LEVI, Finland – Dealing with a bruised bone in her left knee after a training accident 11 days ago, Mikaela Shiffrin would be happy with second place.
But it turned out even better for the American.
Petra Vlhova, who led Shiffrin by 0.76 seconds after the first run of the World Cup slalom on Sunday, was hoping for another clear victory.
A day after taking the lead in Saturday’s race on the same hill, Vlhova extended his big lead to more than a second, but then went over a gate in the steep part halfway down the Levi Black course.
Waiting in the finish area, Shiffrin looked up at the course in disbelief when her longtime rival in the slalom didn’t come down.
“Bad luck for her,” Shiffrin said of Vlhova’s plight. “I did earn a podium, so I was quite happy with second place. After the last 10 days, I was like: ‘Okay! Good, step by step, every day better. ‘”
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Shiffrin won a week later when the American had to reduce her time on the snow after the training accident.
“If anything, it proves that I have a good attitude to fight, still,” said Shiffrin. “After the last 10 days, it was a bit of a struggle to even imagine racing, so this means a lot to the whole team.”
Still, Shiffrin emphasized that her win came amid a dominant performance from Vlhova.
“Petra did a master class in slalom skiing last weekend. And she was way ahead. In my mind, she deserved this win and I’m lucky to have it,” said the American, got his record-tying 89th career catch. To win the World Cup.
“It’s a bit bittersweet. I’m very happy with the win, but I have to give her the credit. She earned it, probably a second and a half at the bottom, at least.”
Shiffrin finished 0.18 ahead of Croatia’s Leona Popovic, who was fastest in the final run and earned her second career podium result, and 0.30 ahead of Germany’s Lena Duerr in third.
The result marked the first triple top of the season for Shiffrin. The American won 14 races last season and his fifth overall title.
Shiffrin started the new campaign with a sixth place in a giant slalom in Austria two weeks ago and finished fourth in the first slalom on Saturday, when Vlhova posted the fastest time in both runs to win by a wide margin of 1.41 seconds over Duerr.
“It was amazing to watch her ski these two days,” Shiffrin told Vlhova.
This weekend’s result gave Shiffrin an early lead in the slalom and overall World Cup standings.
It was Shiffrin’s seventh all-time victory over Levi, where no skier other than herself or Vlhova has won the traditional season-opening slalom since 2016.
The victory won America’s seventh reindeer – a traditional prize given to the winner after the race in Finnish Lapland. The animals stay on a local farm in Finland.
Slalom world champion Laurence St-Germain bounced back from a disappointing performance on Saturday, when she failed to qualify for the second run. On Sunday, St-Germain finished in seventh place, one place behind Ali Nullmeyer’s Canadian team.
Katharina Liensberger, the 2021 slalom World Cup winner and world title holder who secured her first podium in almost two years on Saturday, shared eighth place with Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener.
Shiffrin will pass the two Zermatt-Cervinia cross-border roads in Switzerland and Italy next week. The men’s race on the Matterhorn mountain was canceled this weekend due to heavy snowfall and strong winds.
The Americans’ next races will be in Killington, Vermont on November 25-26.
“It’s great to go home, but it’s not the ideal circumstances to go into home runs,” Shiffrin said, referring to her bruised knee.
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