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Mikaela Shiffrin returns to podium in Sestriere

Mikaela Shiffrin

SESTRIERE, ITALY - DECEMBER 11: Mikaela Shiffrin of Team United States competes during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women’s Slalom on December 11, 2022 in Sestriere, Italy. (Photo by Francis Bompard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

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Mikaela Shiffrin returned to the Alpine skiing World Cup podium with a runner-up to Swiss Wendy Holdener in a slalom in Sestriere, Italy, on Sunday.

Holdener, who two weeks ago earned her first World Cup slalom victory (a tie with Swede Anna Swenn Larsson) after 30 second- or third-place finishes, won her first World Cup slalom outright in the Italian Alps.

“I heard in the start that Mikaela’s in the lead, so I knew I had to give all I have,” said Holdener, who became the first Swiss woman to win back-to-back World Cup slaloms since Vreni Schneider in 1994. “Most of the records are Mikaela’s, so it’s cool I have small victories.”

She prevailed by 47 hundredths of a second over Shiffrin combining times from two runs. Shiffrin, who was third after the first run, leapfrogged first-run leader Petra Vlhova, who dropped to third.

American Paula Moltzan finished fifth, matching her best World Cup slalom finish. The last U.S. woman other than Shiffrin to place higher in a World Cup slalom was Resi Stiegler, who was a runner-up in 2012.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Holdener cut Shiffrin’s standings lead for the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing, to 19 points through nine of 39 scheduled races. She also tied Shiffrin in the season slalom standings through four of 11 scheduled races.

Shiffrin rebounded for her 100th World Cup podium between traditional slaloms and giant slaloms after placing 13th, fifth and sixth in her previous three races between a stop in Killington, Vermont, two weeks ago and a GS in Sestriere on Saturday. She hasn’t missed the podium in four consecutive World Cup technical races in eight years.

“I am quite exhausted, but I think I had some really good turns and some things to fix for the next slalom,” Shiffrin said. “Anyway, it’s a step from Killington, a step in the right direction. It was two really difficult days.”

Shiffrin plans to travel to St. Moritz, Switzerland, ahead of speed races next weekend but may reevaluate her plans during downhill training runs. After that is a critical stretch for Shiffrin’s season title hopes: eight consecutive slaloms or giant slaloms from Dec. 27 through Jan. 10, all at venues where she has multiple victories.

Shiffrin, who has 76 World Cup wins, can move closer to the female record of 82 held by Lindsey Vonn and the overall record of 86 held by Swede Ingemar Stenmark.

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