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Mikaela Shiffrin of Edwards on Tuesday set the career World Cup record for victories in a single discipline, with her 47th win in a night slalom in Schladming, Austria, narrowly defeating her chief rival, Petra Vlhova of Slovakia. Lena Duerr of Germany finished third.
It was the 73rd career win overall for Shiffrin and vitally gave her 100 points in the overall chase. She had been tied with Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark for most wins in a discipline; he had 46 in giant slalom during his storied career in the 70s and 80s.
Shiffrin was fifth after the first run of a World Cup night slalom in Schladming, Austria, nearly a half second behind first-run leader Vlhova, who had won five of six slaloms coming into Tuesday’s race.
Shiffrin was .42 second behind Vlhova in fifth after the first run, with her teammate Paula Moltzan of Minnesota right behind her in sixth (.47 back). Three other racers were bunched in second, third and fourth after the first run, between .27 and .35 back.
Moltzan, trying to better her career mark of 7th in this season’s slalom in Killington, straddled a gate midway through her second run and did not finish. Four of the top 10 DNF’d in the second run, opening the door for Shiffrin.
Shiffrin ran right after Moltzan and put down a beautiful run that briefly put her in the lead by 1.05 seconds. It held up against a hard-charging Vlhova, who lost time on the lower part of the course and wound up .15 seconds behind Shiffrin. Duerr was near a second back (.93) in third.
Vlhova came into Tuesday’s race just 35 points behind Shiffrin in the hunt for the overall World Cup title (866 to 831), and she picked up 80 for coming second. She now trails Shiffrin 966 to 911.
Vlhova is the defending overall champion, and Shiffrin is seeking an American record-tying fourth overall title to match former Vail resident Lindsey Vonn.
Shiffrin has been struggling a bit to regain her training and conditioning after missing two races due to COVID-19 last month. She clearly is back on top.
Next up for the women are speed events (downhill and super-G) this weekend in Zauchensee, Austria. The Beijing Winter Olympics, where Shiffrin hopes to compete in all five disciplines (slalom, giant slalom, downhill, super-G and combined), kick off on Feb. 4.
Shiffrin already has collected Olympic gold in slalom (2014), gold in GS (2018) and silver in combined (2018).
The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team issued the following press release on Tuesday’s race:
With a blazing second run, Mikaela Shiffrin came back from a 0.42-second deficit behind Petra Vlhova to claim her 47th slalom win under the lights in the iconic venue at Schladming, Austria. The FIS Ski World Cup win is Shiffrin’s first slalom win since the HomeLight Killington Cup and officially pushed her past the legendary Swede Ingemar Stenmark’s record of most individual wins in a single World Cup discipline. Her victory also keeps her on top of the overall World Cup point standings, 55 points ahead of Vlhova.
Schladming is a special place for Shiffrin for a multitude of reasons. Not only is the venue a historic stop on the men’s World Cup slalom circuit, but it also marks the first time the women’s circuit has ever had the opportunity to cut their teeth under the lights. What’s more, Schladming is the site of Shiffrin’s first-ever World Championships in 2013. It was there that Shiffrin won her first-ever World Championship title (at the age of 17) fittingly in the slalom, albeit on a different track.
“I think aside from Killington for obvious reasons, it’s probably going to be the most memorable race of my career,” said Shiffrin. “It’s really quite a privilege for us [women] to be able to race on this slope. This morning I was totally geeking out over it because it’s Schladming! This is what we live for! After the last few weeks, I wasn’t feeling prepared to race this race, but this is the opportunity we have, and we have it now. I’m not going to have this opportunity tomorrow, or in two weeks, or four weeks when I feel ready, I have this opportunity now, tonight, and that’s it. The second run, I think my skiing was more deserving of this hill and this opportunity, and I’m really proud of that. I don’t take for granted the opportunity to race here and be in a position where I can actually win.”
After the first run, Shiffrin sat in fifth overall behind Vlhova in first, Lena Duerr in second, and Wendy Holdener and Ali Nullmeyer tied in third. A win didn’t seem likely for Shiffrin behind four strong performances, especially given the consistent tempo of Vlhova’s slalom throughout the season. But if anyone can make up over a half a second in her second run, it’s Shiffrin. At the end of the night, she found enough speed to claim the win, 0.15 seconds over Vlhova, making for a nerve-racking and emotional second run show. In fact, Shiffrin made up a half of a second at the last interval. With Vlhova in second, Germany’s Lena Duerr rounded out the podium in third.
“She’s skiing strong; she’s making no mistakes,” commented Shiffrin on Vlhova’s slalom season. “She’s skiing slalom the way it’s meant to be skied, and it’s impressive and special to watch that. It’s very rare that somebody is going to be able to come out ahead of her. Tonight it was my night, and I’m thankful for that but I didn’t expect that [my second run] was going to be enough.”
With her second-place finish tonight, Vlhova—with an impressive five victories, two-second place finishes, and 660 points—has clinched the World Cup slalom title.
Overall, the U.S. women’s slalom team had a solid day of skiing. Paula Moltzan had a brilliant first run, only 0.47 seconds behind Vlhova and five-hundredths behind Shiffrin. Moltzan charged in her second run in hopes of securing a top-five finish. Unfortunately, she straddled mid-way down the course and ended the day with a DNF.
Nina O’Brien snagged a top 20 finish in 19th, her best slalom World Cup finish of the season. AJ Hurt and Katie Hensien did not qualify for a second run.
This weekend, the women’s World Cup circuit heads to Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria, for its first speed series since Val d’Isere, France.