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Mikaela Shiffrin’s closest rivals in the chase for the overall World Cup title all edged closer this week with the two-time Olympic champion and three-time overall winner sidelined in Lienz, Austria after a positive COVID-19 test.
The Edwards resident is still out front in the hunt for an American record-tying fourth overall globe, awarded to the best all-around ski racer who earns the most points throughout the season, but her lead narrowed significantly.
In Tuesday’s giant slalom in Lienz, Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova finished second to Tessa Worley of France and picked up 80 points, Sara Hector of Sweden was third and picked up 60 points, Federica Brignone was fourth and picked up 50 points and Sofia Goggia was 12th and picked up 22 points.
In Wednesday’s slalom, Vlhova won in dominating style and picked up the maximum 100 points, Hector was 10th and picked up 26 points, Brignone was 16th and picked up 15 points, and speed specialist Goggia did not race.
Heading into Lienz, Shiffrin had the lead with 750 points to 635 for Goggia, 435 for Vlhova and 342 for Brignone, who won the 2019-20 overall title. Vlhova won the 2020-21 title, and both racers benefited from Shiffrin being sidelined at various times due to the death of her father, a bad back and the impacts on the tour from the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the two tech races this week in Lienz, Shiffrin’s hunt to tie former Vail resident Lindsey Vonn’s American record four overall titles got quite a bit tighter. On Thursday, her lead stands at 750 points to 657 for Goggia, 615 for Vlhova, 424 for Hector and 407 for Brignone.
For her part, the quarantined Shiffrin, who hopes to be back for slalom races in Zagreb, Croatia, Jan. 4-5 and compete in five events in February’s Beijing Olympics, was philosophical about the overall chase.
“As far as the overall globe goes, we’re just taking it day by day. Obviously, this is a blow to the points and chances there, but if we’ve learned anything this season so far, it’s that anything can happen,” Shiffrin said in a statement tweeted out Tuesday by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team. “I’m just focused on getting better and getting back to racing ASAP, and we’ll let the chips fall where they may. Can’t worry too much about globes and titles with everything going on with COVID.”