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American AJ Hurt earns first Alpine skiing World Cup podium

Hurt earns 1st Alpine skiing WC podium in Slovenia
American AJ Hurt rallied from 16th after the first run to reach her first Alpine skiing World Cup podium in her 61st-career start, finishing third in the Slovenia slalom.

American AJ Hurt made her first Alpine skiing World Cup podium in her 61st start, placing third in a slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, on Sunday.

Hurt, 23, rallied from 16th place after the first run by posting the fastest second run.

“I thought to myself, ‘Well if I came in first (in the second run), maybe I can get a top 10,’” she said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard.

Olympic gold medalist Petra Vlhova of Slovakia won by 72 hundredths of a second over German Lena Duerr combining times from both runs. Hurt was 87 hundredths behind.

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Hurt, a Tahoe native who studied engineering at Dartmouth, came into this season with a best World Cup finish of 18th in a giant slalom. She then was ninth and 11th in a pair of GS races in December. Her best slalom finish before Sunday was 25th.

Hurt’s 2022-23 season was cut short that December due to surgery to repair left ankle ligaments.

Hurt became the third American to make a World Cup slalom podium in the last 11 years after Mikaela Shiffrin (who has a female record 80 slalom podiums) and Paula Moltzan, who had one runner-up finish last season (and placed fifth on Sunday).

Earlier Sunday, Shiffrin straddled a gate and didn’t finish the first run.

Racing in falling snow, Shiffrin trailed Vlhova by 47 hundredths at the first checkpoint before her left ski went on the wrong side of a gate 24 seconds into her run.

It was a rare mishap for Shiffrin, who last straddled a gate in a World Cup race in the second run of a slalom on the same hill in Slovenia in January 2022, a month before the Beijing Olympics.

Shiffrin fought a cold this week and finished ninth in Saturday’s GS, saying afterward that she had “low energy” for that race. She then skipped the mandatory public bib draw for Sunday’s race.

“I think I’m starting to get better now,” she said after Sunday’s straddle. “The next couple days should be hopefully back to normal. ... Every year, everybody gets sick at one point, and this is my moment. It’ll get better. It’s going to be fine. Not so bad.”

After skiing out, Shiffrin congratulated Vlhova with a fist bump when she passed the leader’s seat.

All six slaloms this season have been won by either Shiffrin or Vlhova.

The women’s Alpine World Cup moves next weekend to Zauchensee, Austria, for two super-Gs and a downhill, live on Peacock. Shiffrin set a goal to race at least one of the super-Gs.

“The biggest issue is I didn’t have super-G training all summer,” she said. “Well, I just didn’t have super-G training since last year. If I can’t get a good day of super-G training, then I don’t think it’s realistic to do Zauchensee. So that’s where the next couple days will tell a lot.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.