Petra Vlhova (Slovakia) skied an aggressive second run to win her third World Cup slalom and her second-straight victory over Mikaela Shiffrin dating back to last season’s World Cup Finals slalom in Aspen, Colo. Wendy Holdener (Switzerland) rounded out the podium in third.
Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, Colo.) grabbed her 33rd FIS Ski World Cup slalom podium, and moved into the overall World Cup lead after finishing second by just 0.10, in the season-opening slalom Saturday in Levi.
Shiffrin took a narrow first-run lead over Vlhova on the tricky Levi Black course, which featured numerous break-overs and long flat sections that forced skiers to carry their speed. In the second run, Holdener put the pressure on both Shiffrin and Vlhova as she took the lead with three racers remaining, and held that lead as Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter slipped to second.
However, Vlhova skied an aggressive second run to best Holdener by 1.35 and squarely put the pressure on Shiffrin. Out of the gate, Shiffrin displayed her aggressive style, but failed to match Vlhova’s pace off the first break over and slipped into second.
“The timing was a little bit off on some of the turns, especially on some of the essential turns on the upper flat,” said Shiffrin, who despite her trademark strong finish, could not make up time on the 22-year-old Slovakian.
“I’m really happy because it was a tough day,” Vlhova said. “Mikaela, she’s always fast, but now I am fast.”
“I’ve been training with Petra the past few days and I knew that she has been fast,” Shiffrin added. “So I expected that she would be strong and fast today. She’s also really mentally tough … so I expect it’s going to be a really cool fight with us this year, and that's exciting.”
Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, Wyo.), was the only other U.S. skier to qualify for the second run and finished 21st.
Next up, the women head to Vermont’s Killington Resort for the Xfinity Killington Cup Nov. 25-26 for giant slalom and slalom events. Shiffrin, skiing in front of the home crowd last season, won the slalom in Killington following her fifth-place finish in the giant slalom.