Mikaela Shiffrin second to rival Petra Vlhova at at Zagreb World Cup slalom | VailDaily.com

Mikaela Shiffrin second to rival Petra Vlhova at at Zagreb World Cup slalom

Slovakian has won four of the five slalom events contested on the World Cup

Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates on the podium Tuesday after finishing second in a women's World Cup slalom in Zagreb, Croatia.
Pier Marco Tacca/AP

At this point, Petra Vlhova might deserve the patent to Pat Riley’s trademarked “three-peat” phrase even more than the NBA icon.

On Tuesday night, Vlhova claimed the Snow Queen Trophy at the Zagreb World Cup for a third straight season. The Slovakian continued her recent slalom dominance, winning under the lights in Croatia by 0.50 seconds over Mikaela Shiffrin. Defending slalom crystal globe winner Katharina Liensberger (+2.11) rounded out the podium.

“You know I feel good; I feel a big confidence,” Vlhova told FIS reporters after the race. “Yes, it’s not easy winning (three) in a row because there’s a lot of pressure from the outside, but I’m thankful to have one big bubble around me and just to be enjoying skiing and skiing like I know. I’m so, so happy.”

With the win, Vlhova extended her slalom lead for the 2021-22 season, having won four of the five races so far this season. She has 480 points, with Shiffrin (340) and Liensberger (262) in second and third. The only time the Slovakian has not finished atop the podium this season was when she was second behind Shiffrin in Killington, Vermont, Nov. 28. She’s won the last two slaloms this season after her victory in Lienz, Austria, meaning she could get another “three-peat” if she wins on Jan. 8 in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, the next stop on the World Cup.

When asked how she mentally approached the pressure of defending her title and continuing her slalom superiority, she said, “In my mind was just to focus on my skiing — to ski clean out of the gate because I knew a lot of girls had problems. So, (the) main goal for me was to be over on the gate and let (my) skis go.”

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“Nothing special; of course, it was really tough because the conditions were not so perfect and Zagreb is really long, so when you enter the last pitch, you start to feel it.”

Zagreb was her 16th career slalom victory, breaking a tie with Perrine Pelen for seventh on the all-time list. Vlhova has been dominant in the event since 2020, having won 10 of the last 16 slalom events. Shiffrin (3), Katharina Liensberger (2), and Michelle Gisin (1), are the other winners in that time period.

Mikaela Shiffrin crosses the finish line of Tuesday’s women's World Cup slalom in Zagreb, Croatia.
Pier Marco Tacca/AP

Shiffrin will have to wait until the weekend for another chance at eclipsing Ingemar Stenmark’s record for the most World Cup wins in a single event (46). The American had won the Zagreb slalom in 2013, 2015, 2018, and 2019 and has finished on the podium an incredible 52 times in her last 56 participations in the discipline. Considering her circumstances going into Tuesday’s event, there were good reasons for her to remain positive.

“I knew it was going to be tough today after 10 days in a room and not being able to do any kind of physical exercise,” she told U.S. Ski and Snowboard’s Courtney Harkins.

“I lost some of this energy to push, but today showed me I didn’t lose too much. It’s something I can get back and I’ll do my best to get that back over the next weeks. It was quite a positive day. I love racing in Zagreb, even if I’m not winning, I just love it here. I really appreciate that I was able to come back for this race.”

The World Cup moves to Slovakia for a slalom and giant slalom on Jan. 8-9 in Kranjska Gora.

FIS Alpine World Cup Overall Standings

Mikaela Shiffrin, USA – 830

Petra Vlhova, SLO – 715

Sofia Goggia, ITA – 657

From left, Mikaela Shiffrin, Slovakia's Petra Vlhova, and Austria's Katharina Liensberger, stand on the podium Tuesday in Zagreb, Croatia.
Pier Marco Tacca/AP

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