Petra Vlhova wins another slalom, takes World Cup overall lead
Petra Vlhova defeated Mikaela Shiffrin in a World Cup slalom, took the overall standings lead and increased her advantage over the American in the season-long slalom standings.
The Slovakian Vlhova earned her 20th World Cup victory, prevailing by two tenths of a second over world champion Katharina Liensberger of Austria. Shiffrin, the 69-time winner, took third, .64 back, on the 10th anniversary of her World Cup slalom debut at age 15.
Vlhova overtook Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami in the standings for the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing, which a Slovakian has never won.
Vlhova, with 100 points, moved 64 points ahead of Gut-Behrami through 28 of 33 races this season in a competition that will come down to next week’s World Cup Finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
“Of course I feel pressure, but I know how to manage this pressure,” said Vlhova, who owns five world championships medals, including giant slalom gold in 2019. The Slovakian said she feels tired after stating all 28 World Cup races so far this season.
Gut-Behrami, whose best events are downhill and super-G, hasn’t raced a slalom since 2017.
Also with Friday’s win, Vlhova added 40 points to her lead on Shiffrin in the slalom standings. She has an 85-point advantage with two slaloms left -- one on Saturday (7:45 a.m. ET, Olympic Channel and Peacock Premium) and on March 21.
Shiffrin, who trailed Vlhova by .41 after the first run, slipped midway through her second run, costing her four tenths to Liensberger.
“I skied better today than I have in a lot of races, especially the second run,” Shiffrin said. “I’m more proud of this third than I am of some of the wins I’ve had in my career because I felt like I earned it and I fought for it.”
If Shiffrin wins both remaining slaloms, and Vlhova finishes third in both, Vlhova still wins the season title.
Vlhova, the primary rival to Shiffrin the last several years, won her first slalom season title last year. She trailed the American by 80 points when Shiffrin left the tour following her father’s death. Vlhova then won the last slalom in Shiffrin’s absence to take the title by 20 points.
Shiffrin has never ceded a slalom title in which she has raced all season, taking the crystal globe six of the last eight years. The outliers were last year and in 2015-16, when she won the five slaloms that she started but missed five others and a city event following a knee injury.
This season, Shiffrin returned from a 300-day break since her last race and an autumn back injury to make five podiums in seven slaloms, including two wins, with a worst result of fifth.
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