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Mikaela Shiffrin wins 7th reindeer, moves up World Cup podiums list

Mikaela Shiffrin

Santa Claus (L) holds skies while prize reindeer is presented to the winner Mikaela Shiffrin of USA after the women’s slalom competition of the FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup in Kittilae, Finland, on November 12, 2023. (Photo by Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva / AFP) / Finland OUT (Photo by VESA MOILANEN/Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images)

Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images

Mikaela Shiffrin earned her 89th career World Cup win after Olympic gold medalist Petra Vlhova straddled a gate with a big lead in the last run of a slalom on Sunday.

The Slovakian Vlhova, eyeing victories on back-to-back days in Levi, Finland, upped her lead during her second and final run to a comfortable 1.06 seconds with about 22 seconds until the finish.

But Vlhova then straddled, handing the win to Shiffrin, the penultimate skier who was second to Vlhova in the first of two runs. Shiffrin had skied into the lead in the second run by 18 hundredths of a second over Croatian Leona Popovic.

“I’m so sorry,” Shiffrin told Vlhova when they embraced in the finish area.

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

“Petra really did a master class in slalom skiing this weekend, and she was by far ahead, so, in my mind, she earned this victory,” Shiffrin told Austrian broadcaster ORF.

Shiffrin became the first skier to win a World Cup race in 12 consecutive seasons and the first to win seven slaloms at a single venue. The winner in Levi traditionally receives a reindeer that they get to name. The reindeer stays in Finland.

Shiffrin also made her 139th World Cup podium, breaking her tie with retired Austrian Marcel Hirscher for the second-most in Alpine skiing history.

Ingemar Stenmark, a Swedish legend of the 1970s and ‘80s, owns the record of 155 podiums.

Last season, Shiffrin broke Stenmark’s career World Cup wins record.

Shiffrin suffered a bone bruise on her left tibial plateau in a training crash two weeks ago, visited the hospital and missed a significant amount of practice.

Given that, she was satisfied with her weekend: fourth place on Saturday and what she thought would be a runner-up on Sunday as she waited at the finish for Vlhova. She didn’t feel knee pain while racing, but said it was a little sore afterward.

“After the last 10 days, I’m like, OK, good, step by step, every day better,” she said.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup continues with downhills at the famed Matterhorn scheduled for next Saturday and Sunday. Shiffrin will skip them, as she often does with speed races. Her next races are a giant slalom and slalom in Killington, Vermont, on Thanksgiving weekend.

Men’s downhills planned for the Matterhorn this weekend were canceled due to heavy snowfall.