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Veronika Velez Zuzulova, top Mikaela Shiffrin rival, needs surgery

Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup - Men's Giant Slalom and Women's Slalom

ASPEN, CO. - MARCH 18: Veronika Velez Zuzulova of Slovakia takes 2nd place in the overall standings, Mikaela Shiffrin of USA wins the globe in the overall standings, Wendy Holdener of Switzerland takes 3rd place in the overall standings during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Finals Women’s Slalom on March 18, 2017 in Aspen, Colorado (Photo by Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom

One of Mikaela Shiffrin‘s top rivals will miss the start of the Alpine skiing season

Slovakian Veronika Velez Zuzulova, second to Shiffrin in last season’s slalom standings, is undergoing right knee surgery that will keep her out at least two months, according to her social media.

Velez Zuzulova’s unspecified injury could have otherwise kept her out six to eight months (the Olympics are in five months) if she had not chosen this particular surgery, according to the post.

Velez Zuzulova is sure to miss the first slalom of the World Cup season is Levi, Finland, on Nov. 11. She could also miss the second slalom in Killington, Vt., on Nov. 26.

Velez Zuzulova, 33, revealed last week that she hurt her knee in preseason training in Argentina.

She won three World Cup slaloms between the last two seasons. Only Shiffrin, with 12 victories, has more.

Velez Zuzulova finished second in the World Cup slalom season standings in 2016 (to Swede Frida Hansdotter; Shiffrin missed much of the season with a knee injury) and in 2017 (to Shiffrin, a massive 275 points behind).

Velez Zuzulova, an Olympian in 2002, 2006 and 2010, missed the 2014 Sochi Winter Games after tearing her left ACL in October 2013.

Shiffrin’s biggest slalom rivals to start the season should be world silver medalist Wendy Holdener of Switzerland, plus another Slovakian, Petra Vlhova, and Hansdotter.

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