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Eagle-Vail’s own Mikaela Shiffrin saw her bid for a record-tying eighth-straight World Cup slalom victory halted on Tuesday, as she failed to defend her “Snow Queen” crown in a night slalom at Zagreb, Croatia. Shiffrin straddled a gate in the first run of a race won by Slovakia’s Veronika Velez Zuzulova.
The 21-year-old Shiffrin was trying to tie the record for consecutive slalom wins held by Croatian legend Janica Kostelic, who was in attendance in her home nation, and Switzerland’s Vreni Schneider. Shiffrin came in having won 12 straight slalom races she entered and 14 of the last 15.
“I was never thinking about the streak in the beginning until people started talking about it,” Shiffrin told the Associated Press after straddling a gate in the first run. “To be honest it is a bit of a relief because nobody is going to talk about it anymore.”
Shiffrin last failed to finish a World Cup slalom in 2012 but the long and demanding Zagreb course knocked her out about halfway down the course.
“It is what it is. Sometimes you don’t ski exactly the way you want to,” Shiffrin told AP. “I was trying to go forward but I got a little bit tentative in some sections and straddled.”
Shiffrin maintained her overall World Cup lead over Switzerland’s Lara Gut, who typically does not race slalom, but saw the slalom chase close to just a 10-point lead over Velez Zuzulova, who had finished second to Shiffrin in the last three races.
“It’s huge for U.S. ski racing to have somebody who has something like a big streak going on. People start to gain interest,” said Shiffrin, who is chasing her career-best seventh win this season and her 27th overall, which would tie her for 11th on the all-time list. “But for me, I am not doing this for those records. I am doing this for myself. I try to find peace in my own heart. I am on my way there.”