Shiffrin skis to eighth place in World Cup Finals slalom

Andreja Slokar of Slovenia nabs surprise win as Vlhova takes third

Ryan Sederquist
Vail Daily
Mikaela Shiffrin arrives at the finish area of the World Cup Finals slalom in Meribel, France on Saturday
Alessandro Trovati/AP

Relaxed and fast.

It’s hard to know the exact mantra Mikaela Shiffrin brought to Saturday’s World Cup Finals slalom, but with the pressure off after securing the overall title Thursday, it is a decent prognostication.

In the first run, it was also an accurate assessment of her skiing. Unfortunately, the six-time slalom discipline winner was behind the course the whole way down her second run, struggling to find her usual snappiness around the gates to finish in eighth place in the last slalom of the season.

Andreja Slokar of Slovenia, in just her 31st career World Cup start, earned a surprise victory, the country’s first in the event since 2014 and her first individual World Cup win ever.

The anticipated weekend showdown between Petra Vlhová and Shiffrin never manifested itself as the Edwards resident was runner-up in Thursday’s super-G and the Slovakian Olympic slalom gold medalist failed to score. The result locked up a fourth career overall globe for the 27-year-old American.

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On soft snow and under sunny skis, Shiffrin skied to the fifth-fastest first run down the Roc de Fer course, 0.66 seconds behind leader Lena Dürr, while Vlhová was fourth with 0.48 to make up in the second leg. Winner of five of the eight slaloms this season, Vlhová clinched the World Cup slalom title before the Beijing Olympics.

Just like in China, Dürr and Michelle Gisin were 1-2 after the first run. At the Olympics, they wound up out of the medals. Making her 178th career World Cup start, Dürr was looking to win her first ever World Cup slalom.

Slovakia's Petra Vlhova speeds down the course during the World Cup Finals slalom in Meribel, France on Saturday.
Marco Trovati/AP

In her second run along a course set up by coach Mike Day, Shiffrin lacked her usual spring through the turns and appeared mechanical, as if she were still working through her slalom struggles from the Olympics. She lost time at each sector, ending the run 1.48 seconds back. Her second run was the just the 19th fastest of the day.

“In past races I’ve shown not much speed in these softer conditions,” commented Shiffrin to U.S. Ski and Snowboard.

“It’s something I didn’t have time to figure out before now, but now we have something I can really work on over the summer if we want to try and improve a bit on this kind of softer snow.”

Shiffrin is looking forward to tomorrow’s giant slalom.

“I’m optimistic; I think it’s a chance for me to again try to work on some things in softer snow,” she said to U.S. Ski and Snowboard.

“Normally I won’t risk something unless I feel that there is something to get back from the surface. But I’m also watching all the other competitors when they’re skiing really well on these kinds of conditions, their movements and how they’re able to perform and I’m hopeful that I have the chance to perform like that as well.”

As the course deteriorated in the spring-like conditions, Vlhova struggled in her second run as well, falling to third, 0.81 seconds back. The corn snow skiing wasn’t great for Dürr either, as she skied the 16th-fastest second run to finish second overall (+0.48).

In front of a well-traveled Slovakian fan-base, a still jubilant Vlhová expressed satisfaction regarding her overall season.

“It’s really important because before the season we set the goal to achieve a small globe for slalom and we made it,” she told FIS reporters when asked what the season title meant.

“It’s amazing. It was a really tough season for me, but I have everything. I am Olympic champion, now I have small globe for slalom — it’s something amazing.”

Shiffrin’s 2021-2022 season successes

* Clinched 4th career overall crystal globe (tied for second-most of all time)

* Claimed 74th World Cup victory (third-most all time)

* 14 podiums (five wins) across three disciplines

* Broke record for most wins in a single discipline (slalom – 47)

In the men’s giant slalom on Saturday, River Radamus dropped seven places after his second run to finish his day in 20th. Radamus finished 15th in the giant slalom season standings, with 147 points. Marco Odermatt won the GS globe handily with 720 points, 267 points more than second-placer Henrik Kristoffersen

The women’s World Cup season ends Sunday with a giant slalom while the men finish with a slalom.

Mikaela Shiffrin speeds down the course during the World Cup Finals slalom in Meribel, France on Saturday.
Alessandro Trovati/AP
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