Overall World Cup champion Mikaela Shiffrin claimed the slalom to sweep the two-season opening race on Sunday.
Shiffrin had the fastest time in both runs as she went to her 49th slalom victory just one day after winning another slalom in Finnish Lapland. No other skier has won more championships in a single competition than the 27-year-old Colorado native. She reached the 68th slalom podium, a record in women’s competition, one more than compatriot Lindsey Vonn in downhill races.
“I really didn’t expect it today,” Shiffrin said. “I mean even after the first run. I think everyone competing is very strong right now and there’s actually very little chance.”
Shiffrin had a thin first-round lead of 0.07 seconds against Lena Durr, and her opponent, Slovakia’s Vlhova, had 0.1 seconds left in the third-round second. The American made a near-perfect second run to stop the attacking Wendy Holdener, beating the Swiss by 0.28 sc.
It was the 30th slalom podium for Holdener, who still had to win in the discipline. This marks the most World Cup podium finishes without a win in the discipline. Holdener moved up from fourth to second place after a second-best time in the second series. Vlhova, slalom Olympic champion and last season’s World Cup slalom winner, tied Saturday’s result 0.68 seconds behind the leader, placing third.
Shiffrin leads the overall standings with 200 points, Holdener is second with 75 points and Vlhova is third with five points.
With 76 World Cup victories, four-time overall champion Shiffrin is behind only Swedish great skiers Ingemar Stenmark (86) and Vonn (82).
His next chance to add to their record will be in front of the home crowd. The Women’s World Cup moves to the United States next weekend for a giant slalom on Saturday and another slalom on Sunday in Killington, Vermont.
Shiffrin and Vlhova have dominated the field at this Finnish resort in recent years. No other skier other than Vlhova or Shiffrin has won the traditional season-opening events since then-overall champion Tina Maze won in 2014. , 2016, 2018 and 2019. Vlhova has five wins and a five-man herd. The animals stay at a local farm in Finland.
Two slalom events in Levi opened the women’s World Cup season after all four previously scheduled races were canceled due to hot weather.