Mikaela Shiffrin (Avon, Colo.) is back to her old ways again - winning slalom races by more than a second!
For the fourth time in her career, Shiffrin was crowned the “Snow Queen” following her FIS Ski World Cup slalom win in Zagreb, Croatia, Saturday. This was also her seventh-straight World Cup slalom win and her 37th career slalom victory.
As in the other four slalom races this season, the second place goes to Petra Vlhova. The Slovakian athlete made the step to the very first spot of the podium for the first time both in the giant slalom (in Semmering) and in the city event (Oslo), but still couldn’t clinch a win in slalom this season.
In third place, Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener could celebrate a 19th World Cup podium in slalom. The Swiss multi talent, who is already a World Champion, a multiple Olympic medalist and a globe winner, is still waiting for her first slalom win.
Shiffrin’s 1.25-second margin of victory is her largest since she defeated Holdener by 1.58 seconds on March 17, 2018, in Are, Sweden. In the two World Cup slaloms leading up to Zagreb, Vlhova was second at just .29-seconds back in Courchevel, France, and Semmering, Austria. But Saturday, Shiffrin demonstrated why she is indeed the best skier in the world, especially on a hard, fast track.
“It’s the perfect track to be aggressive,” said Shiffrin, who also won seven-straight slalom races in 2016. “I just tried to do my best, and the surface was perfect, so it’s easier to be really aggressive.”
Shiffrin took a 1.15-second first-run lead over Holdener. In the second run, Vlhova put the pressure on both Holdener and Shiffrin with a flawless run. With Vlhova sitting in the hot seat, Shiffrin opened up a 1.36-second advantage at the first interval and was well on her way to victory before a small bobble cost her 0.51 seconds. But in typical Shiffrin fashion, she shifted gears and pulled back time for her 52nd career World Cup win.
“I had a scary moment in the middle there, but actually the second run was really cool because I was aggressive,” Shiffrin said. “I was really pushing. I had this mistake, but after that, I was fighting back again. I wasn’t skiing to protect something today.”
Paula Moltzan (Burlington, Vt.) started 28th in the first run and finished 12th. She was well on her way to a career-best result in the second run but cut a gate too tight near the finish, straddled, and DNF’d.
The women race slalom again on Tuesday in Flachau, Austria, followed by a speed series in
St. Anton, Austria, Jan. 10-13 and giant slalom in Kronplatz, Italy, Jan. 15. After competing in six events over the past 15 days, Shiffrin is balancing training and rest, while working on her race plans heading into the World Championships in Are, Sweden, Feb. 4-17.
“It’s a little bit up in the air right now,” Shiffrin said of her upcoming race plans. “After Oslo, I was thinking ‘I’m pretty tired,’ and coming (to Zagreb) I felt pretty good today. But it’s difficult to manage the energy. So my plan is to do Cortina (Italy) - all the races. But I’m not sure if it’s going to work out. Basically, I’m going to decide about that after Kronplatz and see how the training goes.”
Shiffrin leads the overall World Cup standings by 496 points over Vlhova. She also leads the slalom and super-G standings and is third in the giant slalom standings.