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Mikaela Shiffrin of Edwards, racing on “home snow” near her former ski academy in Vermont, won her 71st career World Cup race and her record-tying 46th slalom at snowy Killington on Sunday.
Shiffrin made a small mistake up high in her second run but recovered to post an .83-second lead over Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener, who still has never won a World Cup slalom despite 28 podium finishes behind Shiffrin.
Shiffrin then watched as her top rival, Petra Vlhova of Slovakia, made a huge mistake up high on the course and wound up second, bumping Holdener to third.
Shiffrin tied the record for most World Cup wins in a single discipline with her 46th slalom victory (matching Ingemar Stenmark’s 46 wins in giant slalom), and it was also her fifth straight slalom win at Killington.
Vlhova had the fastest first-run time of 49.87, and Shiffrin trailed by .20 seconds with her first-run time of 50.07. Holdener was .58 seconds back of Vlhova at 50.45 after the first run.
Vlhova beat Shiffrin in two slalom races last weekend in Levi, Finland, and looked poised to keep that streak going before Shiffrin’s comeback win.
“My mentality was super-aggressive and that’s the way it really needs to be for both runs,” Shiffrin told NBC after topping Vlhova. “We both had the mistake but I think hers was just a little bigger.”
Here’s the press release from the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team on Sunday’s slalom:
In yet another exciting battle between Mikaela Shiffrin and Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, Shiffrin has once again been crowned the Queen of Killington, winning her fifth consecutive slalom race on home soil in Vermont.
Shiffrin came out in her second run guns a-blazin’ to close the gap between her and her closest rival, who led the field by two-tenths after the first run. Thanks to an aggressive push, and an agile recovery in the mid-section of the course, Shiffrin was able to best Vlhova by 0.75 seconds, after Vlhova made a significant mistake second run. Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener rounded out the podium in third.
“I hope everyone enjoyed watching (the race) because that’s the most show that we have,” Shiffrin commented on her battle with Vlhova. “It takes someone who is not only able to do the work and to ski that way, but really does it, and takes care of the fine details. She and her team, they have what they need and they’re pushing the limits, and we’re trying to do the same…every race is an enormous test and it’s very nerve-racking as well.”
With her 71st World Cup victory and 46th World Cup slalom victory, Shiffrin has officially tied with the legendary Swede Ingemar Stenmark’s 32-year-old record for wins in a single discipline. A thrilling conclusion to a highly anticipated weekend back at the Homelight Killington World Cup—a venue and a race, that has always meant so much to Shiffrin over the course of her career. Emotions were high after securing the slalom win, with Shiffrin feeling the love from a rambunctious crowd of American fans, as well as from missed loved ones on high.
“Getting to the finish knowing I put everything I could into it, that’s always a special feeling,” reflected Shiffrin. “I’ve had a lot of incredible memories at this race over the years, and I’ve shared it with family and all the people I love, the people who I love the most in the world. And this year, two of them are not here anymore. So it’s emotional, it’s one of the more emotional ones for sure.”
Paula Moltzan also had an excellent showing in Killington, coming into the second run full steam ahead and holding on to her position in the top 10, finishing seventh overall.
As an alumnus of the University of Vermont Catamounts, Moltzan’s performance was well celebrated by a large showing of friends and family who traveled far and wide to cheer her on at her collegiate stomping grounds. For Moltzan, having her support system on the ground while she made her first big push of the season towards achieving her Olympic childhood dream was incredibly meaningful.
“I literally have 20 people here that I’m blood-related to, and my entire fiancee’s family too,” said Moltzan. “I’ve dreamed of going to the Olympics my whole life and today was maybe the first punch in my ticket, so I’m hoping I can keep building off of this so I can build steam into the Olympics this year.
Fellow American competitors Nina O’Brien, Katie Hensien, AJ Hurt completed their first run, but did not qualify for the second run of slalom. Allie Resnick, who was starting in her inaugural slalom World Cup, also started but did not qualify for the second run. Resnick’s best friend and fellow Dartmouth peer Zoe Zimmermann also started in just her second World Cup, but did not finish the first run.
The North American action continues next week, with the men’s team competing in two downhills, and two super-G’s in Beaver Creek through December 1-4. The women will head north to compete in speed in Lake Louise, Canada.