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Mikaela Shiffrin of Edwards finished off the podium in fifth Sunday in yet another World Cup slalom won by Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, who has now claimed five straight slalom races on the circuit dating back to last season.
Vlhova also has won four straight slalom races in head to head action against Shiffrin — the most dominant slalom racer in the history of the sport with 43 career victories in the discipline.
Shiffrin, who’s coming back from a back injury and the death of her father last season, was .37 seconds behind after the first run but lost ground in the second run and wound up a combined .93 seconds off Vlhova’s pace.
Shiffrin dropped from fourth after the first run on a foggy course. Switzerand’s Michelle Gisin finished second, and Katharina Liensberger of Austria was third.
Shiffrin missed the season opener last month in Soelden with a back injury and dropped out last season after the death of her father in early February.
This weekend’s action marked the first time back in competition for Shiffrin in 10 months, and U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team officials say she’s still working her way back into form.
“The U.S. ski team said Shiffrin was ‘feeling a bit lethargic’ and ‘still trying to figure out how to manage her energy levels,’ a day after her comeback to racing after 300 days away,” the Associated Press reported.
Vlhova has now won every slalom in 2020, and this was the first time Shiffrin missed a podium in the discipline in three years on the circuit.
Next up, the women head to Lech, Austria for parallel events.
Here’s the press release from the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team:
After her triumphant return to the podium in Saturday’s slalom, Mikaela Shiffrin put together another stellar result in Sunday’s slalom, skiing into fifth place in Levi, Finland.
The race was held under the lights in the dark Finnish Lapland and a light fog settled in throughout the day. Petra Vlhova continued her dominance, taking her fifth slalom victory in a row and second of the weekend. Michelle Gisin of Switzerland was second and Katharina Liensberger, who was third on Saturday, finished third again.
Mikaela admitted she was tired after Saturday’s emotional result and jet-lagged from the overseas travel but still put together two solid runs. She sat in fourth place after the first run and while she didn’t make any major mistakes, had trouble finding the next gear to land her on the podium again. But she wasn’t disappointed with a fifth-place finish. “It’s incredible to be here,” said Mikaela. “I had two really solid races and it was an incredible weekend. I feel really grateful that I’m able to do these races and I was able to participate again.” Sometimes, the simple act of stepping into the start gate can be a victory. In that sense, she was also victorious today.
She also took a moment to thank her mom, as she did on social media. “My entire career I wouldn’t be here without her—especially right now and this year,” said Mikaela. “She’s just the strongest person that I know and the kindest and most caring and smartest. She’s my best friend and my mom and my favorite coach—and I have a lot of really great coaches!”
Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team athlete Paula Moltzan, who started the season strong with a career-best 10th place finish in Soelden, continued her points-scoring trend, taking 23rd place—even with a major mistake. Expect to keep seeing this woman in the points all season long; she’s skiing fast!
Lila Lapanja was also thrilled to put down a strong race to start the season, finishing 25th—her first slalom points since 2016. “I had a lot of fun skiing that course today,” Lila said after the race. “My equipment felt great, and body felt strong, especially on the top flats. Levi did an incredible job with the slope preparation. I think these conditions were the best I’ve ever experienced in a World Cup. I feel like I came full-circle with Levi in so many ways. It’s been over four years since I scored my first World Cup points in Flachau so the result tonight is extra special for me. This step back into the Top 30 was a huge win for my team and their belief in what I am doing. This one was for them as much as for me.”
Nina O’Brien was having a solid first run before she straddled and DNFed, while Resi Stiegler did not qualify for the second run.
Next up, the women take a charter flight back to Europe for some training before the men and the women head to Lech, Austria for parallel races November 26-27.
Learn more about how you can support U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes this season at KeepTheFlameAlive.org.