Vlhova wins, Shiffrin takes second in Flachau World Cup slalom
Shiffrin still looking for World Cup win No. 83 and pass Vonn on the women's all-time win's list
Even though the anointing of Mikaela Shiffrin as the proverbial GOAT seems like a forgone conclusion at this point, the Edwards skier isn’t the official statistical greatest of all-time just yet.
Shiffrin placed second in the World Cup slalom in Flachau, Austria on Tuesday, coming up short in her quest for an 83rd-career World Cup win after tying Lindsey Vonn (82) for the most victories by a female Alpine skier on Sunday in Kranjska Gora. It was the American’s chief rival, Petra Vlhova, who took the 0.43-second win under the lights with a combined time of 1 minute, 51.95 seconds. Lena Duerr (1:52.80) of Germany rounded out the podium.
“If you beat Mikaela it means you were really strong because you can see this season she’s strong,” said Vlhova, who added she wasn’t thinking about preventing Shiffrin from breaking Vonn’s record.
“I wanted just to ski free and just to do my run and I feel good today,” the Slovak skier continued. “I’m proud I could beat Mikaela because … if you want to beat her you need to ski above her and it (has to be) perfect, not (just) good.”
“It was difficult this evening to perform top-top, but even then, I felt some turns that I love to feel, so it’s …actually when I’m not on my most top form, I still am enjoying when I’m skiing, so that’s nice,” Shiffrin said.
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Racing against a field with a combined World Cup win total exactly half as voluminous (41) as her own, Shiffrin skied a tactical first run on the relatively moderate 210-meter Griessenkar slope, a hill she’d won on four times heading into Tuesday. With limited potential traps — but a notable one occurring at the beginning of the fourth sector — in the 70-gate course set up by Vlhova’s coach Mauro Pini, there was an opportunity for risk-takers to gain speed. The question was whether anyone would take the bait.
Even with a conservative approach, Shiffrin’s clean run and 56.07-second time was the class of the field …except for Vlhova. The Slovak streaked to a 55.90-second mark thanks to a scintillating third and untouchable fourth sector, respectively.
“On some rolls, I took risks because they were a little bit tricky,” Vlhova told the AP regarding her first run. “It’s something special, in front of a lot of fans from Slovakia.”
“I actually think it was a quite a good run. I felt like my skiing was very good everywhere but for some small mistakes, but nothing too crazy so I kept the speed going everywhere,” Shiffrin told the AP after the first run.
Even though she’s come from behind to win slaloms nine times before, Shiffrin wasn’t sure if her first effort had positioned her well enough for a win, but she did say it was “enough for me to be satisfied.” She also enjoyed watching her Slovak rival work the course. “I think it was the perfect combination of aggressive and also smart,” she said.
- 234 World Cup starts
- 35.2 percent. Shiffrin’s World Cup winning rate
- 130 World Cup podiums. That includes 71 in slalom, the most in a single discipline for a woman.
- 13 seasons. The 27-year-old has now taken part in 13 different seasons on the World Cup circuit, from 2010/11 through 2022/23.
- 12 Globes. From her 13 seasons, Shiffrin has won four overall Crystal Globes and eight discipline titles (six in slalom, one each in super-G and giant slalom). Her eight discipline globes lead all active skiers; her six slalom titles is tied for the most alongside Vreni Schneider.
- 51 World Cup slalom wins, the most by any skier in any discipline.
- 17 World Cup giant slalom wins, more than any other active skier.
- 17 victories. That’s the FIS World Cup record for the most wins in one season, set by Shiffrin in 2018/19.
- 1st skier. The American is the only person, man or woman, to have won a race in each of the World Cup’s six disciplines (downhill, super-G, slalom, giant slalom, combined, and parallel).
- 15-364. Shiffrin’s age when she raced her first World Cup event in Spindleruv Mlyn, Czechia, a day before her 16th birthday in 2011.
- 18–351. Shiffrin’s age when she became the youngest slalom Olympic champion (man or woman) when she won in Rosa Khutor at Sochi 2014. She had become the third-youngest world champion in the discipline the year prior.
- 27 years, 252 days. Shiffrin’s age when she won her 76th World Cup race, younger than both Stenmark, by 53 days, and Vonn, by nearly four years.
- 27 years, 309 days. Shiffrin’s age when she equalled Lindsey Vonn’s women’s record of 82 race wins. Vonn was 33 years and 156 days old when she won the last of her World Cup races.
In-between runs, Shiffrin reportedly experienced stomach issues.
“I don’t feel very well, but that’s not surprising after a long stretch of racing, and no matter what, Petra skied amazing tonight and she deserves the victory,” she told FIS reporters who asked her if her discomfort effected her at all. “Ideally, there’s not a story about how I’m feeling. I earned a second place and she earned the victory tonight and that was quite an amazing show.”
In the more direct second course and with conditions holding up in run No. 2, Shiffrin’s top-half of the course wasn’t anything to write home about, but she found another gear in the bottom third. Still, slow-mo revealed rattling skis in sectors one and two, which left the door open for Vlhova. The Olympic champion was particularly hungry for her first win of the season after reaching seven podiums thus far and she capitalized with the second-fastest second run despite being the final athlete to take to the rutted course.
“We were waiting so long and of course we wanted to win earlier but it’s not so easy to win. That’s maybe the reason I was full of emotions in the finish — I wanted to win.” Vlhova said after the victory, her third in Flachau. “I’m super happy to win here because it’s something special.”
Vlhova ended Shiffrin’s five-win slalom streak back in 2019 when she defeated the American in Flachau. When asked if there is an explanation for why the pair tends to trade turns on the top step of the podium, the Slovak replied, “I think not. I guess like, sometimes it’s really difficult skiing with her in the same era because 82 victories is something huge, but I think for our sport it’s good that we are together.”
“We are pushing each other,” she continued. “Today, she knew I was going to be strong and I knew she was going to be strong, so we were pushing our limits.”
The World Cup travels to St. Anton Jan. 14-15 for a downhill and super-G, but Shiffrin will rest and try again for win No. 83 at the speed events Jan. 20-22 in Cortina d’Ampezzo.
“I’m looking forward to Cortina; get some recovery and right back into it,” she said.