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Mikaela Shiffrin, after the toughest slalom stretch of her career, starts new season on fire

Mikaela Shiffrin

LEVI, FINLAND - NOVEMBER 19: Mikaela Shiffrin of Team United States takes 1st place during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women’s Slalom on November 19, 2022 in Levi, Finland. (Photo by Christophe Pallot/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

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Mikaela Shiffrin became the first woman to win the first two races of the Alpine skiing World Cup season in 29 years, taking back-to-back slaloms this weekend and bouncing back from her worst string of slalom results to end last season.

Shiffrin followed her 75th World Cup victory on Saturday with another one on Sunday in Levi, Finland. She won consecutive races for the first time since 2019 and extended her record for the most wins for any man or woman in a single discipline with her 49th in slalom.

Shiffrin won Sunday with the fastest times in both runs, prevailing by .28 of a second over Swiss Wendy Holdener. Olympic champion Petra Vlhova of Slovakia was third.

“The second run, maybe it’s the best run I’ve ever skied on this hill,” said Shiffrin, who has won six times in Levi. “I was actually really surprised. After the first run, if I was going to bet on someone, I was actually going to bet on Petra, and then maybe Wendy [and German Lena Duerr] next. ... If I had a list, I would be fourth.”

She will go for her 50th World Cup slalom victory next Sunday in Killington, Vermont after the season’s first giant slalom on Saturday (both on NBC Sports and Peacock).

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Shiffrin, who trails Lindsey Vonn by six wins for the career women’s record across all disciplines, became the first man or woman to win the first two races of the season since Bode Miller in 2004 (and 2003). The last woman to do so was Austrian Anita Wachter in 1993.

A caveat is that most seasons do not start with two races in the same discipline, let alone at the same venue and on back-to-back days.

Nevertheless, Shiffrin eased doubts coming out of how her slalom season ended last winter -- skiing out early in the first run at the Olympics, then ninth- and eighth-place finishes in the last two World Cups. That marked her worst string of slalom results since she was a World Cup rookie as a 17-year-old.

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