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Shiffrin second to Vlhova in Zagreb slalom

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January 4, 2022, 9:15 am

Petra Vlhova of Slovakia held off Mikaela Shiffrin of Edwards, Colorado, by a half a second in Tuesday’s night slalom World Cup race in Zagreb, Croatia, picking up 20 points on leader Shiffrin in the hunt for the overall title.

Shiffrin

One big backseat bobble near the bottom of her first run put Shiffrin in second by .64 seconds heading into the night second run, and Vlhova was losing time to Shiffrin on the upper part of the course in the second run after Shiffrin was nearly flawless under the lights.

But Vlhova turned on the gas on the bottom of the course, which used to be a Shiffrin trademark, to win her fourth slalom out of the last five contested. Shiffrin’s only breakthrough in her formerly dominant discipline was a win earlier this season at Killington, Vermont.

Shiffrin, the 2014 Olympic champion in slalom, will have her work cut out for her in the discipline heading into the Beijing Winter Olympics in less than a month. Vlhova gained 100 points for the win, with Shiffrin gaining 80 for finishing second.

Vlhova is now just 115 points behind Shiffrin in the overall hunt, 715 to 830. Shiffrin is looking for her fourth overall title, which would tie former Vail resident Lindsey Vonn for the American record.

Shiffrin bounced back nicely, however, from a positive COVID-19 test last month that cost her two technical races in Lienz, Austria. She admitted to losing some conditioning due to an inability to train.

Next up for the women is a giant slalom Saturday at Kranskja Gore, Slovenia, followed by another slalom on Sunday.

Here’s a press release from the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team:

In her first race back on the FIS World Cup after coming down with COVID-19 over the holidays, Mikaela Shiffrin put down a blazing second run to take second place in the Zagreb, Croatia night slalom. Paula Moltzan was 11th.

Conditions were tough, with warm weather providing barely enough snow to drill in the gates, and plenty of wind made obvious by the myriad of tree leaves scattered across the hill and a course hold second run to re-install the finish banner that had blown down. There were dozens of DNFs due to the tricky sugary snow, but Petra Vlhova of Slovakia put it all on the line to win the first run by .64 seconds. And she didn’t back off in the second run, taking the win at the Croatian night race for the third year in a row. Shiffrin was half a second behind Vlhova in second place with Katharina Liensberger of Austria finishing third after a big mistake on her second run, 2.11 seconds behind Vlhova. 

Shiffrin missed the slalom and giant slalom races in Lienz, Austria just before New Year’s due to a bout with COVID-19, but was thrilled to return to one of her favorite venues on the circuit after testing negative. She said she didn’t have the ideal preparation due to quarantine, but felt normal and healthy. “I was really happy to be here today,” she said. “I think I had more fun skiing than anybody. After the last weeks, it was like ugh, come on! I just started getting this rhythm going and then totally cut down in the middle of it.” 

The two-time Olympic champion and six-time world champion had certainly fallen into a rhythm throughout December, having five podiums in the last six races she entered. Zagreb was also an ideal venue to make her return, having won Zagreb’s Snow Queen Trophy night slalom four times. 

While rival Vlhova took her third title on the hill, Shiffrin was pleased with her skiing, all things considered. “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 said. “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.”

Moltzan had a tough second run, dealing with gusts of wind in the start gate as well as the soft course conditions and a fractured wrist, but still scored an excellent 11th place finish—her best finish at the venue. 

With her second-place finish, Shiffrin still leads the overall World Cup standings by 115 points over Vlhova, who overtook speed-specialist Sofia Goggia with her win. Vlhova continued to build on her overall slalom standings with 480 points to Shiffrin’s 340. 

Katie Hensien just missed the flip, finishing 31st run in her first run by nine-hundredths of a second, so did not qualify for a second run. Lila Lapanja and Zoe Zimmerman also did not qualify for a second run and Nicola Rountree-Williams—who was racing in her career-first World Cup—did not finish first run. 

The men race their night slalom in Zagreb on Wednesday. The women head to Kranjska Gora, Slovenia for a slalom and giant slalom. 

RESULTS
Women’s slalom

STANDINGS
Overall
Slalom

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