After winning the slalom season opener in Levi, Finland on Saturday, Mikaela Shiffrin has officially earned the title of winningest slalom skier in the history of the World Cup. Her fourth win in Levi is her 41st win overall, putting her ahead of Ingemar Stenmark, who had previously held the record at 40 career World Cup wins.
Going into the second run, Shiffrin and Petra Vlhova had separated themselves from the rest of the pack by a second, essentially turning the race into a game of who could pull out the fastest second run. Shiffrin laid down a clean, and incredibly fast, second run that would be hard to compete with given Vlhova only had a 0.13 second lead on Shiffrin. But a big mistake at the top of the course coming over the first break caused Vlhova to fall, and Shiffrin, who was waiting patiently at the bottom to see how Vlhova performed, got the win. Thankfully, Vlhova appeared to be uninjured.
With Vlhova out of the mix, Shiffrin won the race by 1.78 seconds overall, comfortably securing her title as the most successful slalom skier in World Cup history and in Levi. Her reindeer collection now exceeds any other competitor, and can be officially called a herd.
“I was trying to just stay relaxed, thinking of the second run as if it was a different race,” Shiffrin said. “It doesn’t really help to say I have to make up 14 hundredths or I have to do this or that, it’s just I need to go for it. Trying to ski fast and ski well. Maybe I’m a little bit lucky because Petra skied out and I’m happy that she’s okay, but I’m also happy with my skiing today.”
Next, Shiffrin will put her talents on display in front of the home crowd at the Killington World Cup the weekend following Thanksgiving. For the past couple of weeks, she has been training at Copper Mountain, getting some runs under her belt in both speed and in slalom. Prior to Soelden, her focus was on giant slalom. Now with two tech races out of the way, Shiffrin feels fully prepared going into the upcoming race weekend in Vermont.
“I’m always thankful to have a slalom race before Killington because I know that’s where people are more excited to see me skiing and that can add pressure,” Shiffrin said. “But having a good race today and knowing that my good skiing is fast, doesn’t take pressure off but makes me feel like I’m on track. I just have to push and I know what I have to do.”
The Austrian women also made a strong statement in the slalom season opener, putting five women in the top 15, and three women in the top ten despite the absence of one of their top technical skiers, Bernadette Schild. The charge was led by 23-year-old Katharina Truppe, who earned her first career World Cup podium in third. Her teammates, Katharina Liensberger and Katharina Huber, finished seventh and eighth respectively. Leinsberger had been cleared to compete in Levi about a week ago, after finally locking down a contract with Rossignol for the season. She had been in bad blood with the Austrian National Federation after attempting to sign with Kastle skis this season.
“I really could not have expected anything,” Liensberger said, who had been ranked 7th in the slalom going into the season. “It was important for me to concentrate on the essentials and to hide everything around it. I just tried to show my enjoyment of skiing.”
Norway also had a significant showing of women in the top 30. After a strong season opener in the Soelden giant slalom, the Vikings have officially made a statement that they will be a forced to be reckoned with this season. Nina Haver-Loeseth led the way in her first race back from injury in fifth. Haver-Loeseth blew out her knee early on in the 2018/19 season during the slalom race in Semmering, Austria. Her teammates, Mina Fuerst Holtmann, Maren Skjoeld, and Thea Louise Stjernsund, finished 12th, 17th, and 21st respectively.
Aside from Shiffrin, Paula Moltzan was the only other American to score points. After a few big mistakes in the first run, Moltzan was able to pull off a more solid second run to finish 20th, and score her first set of points this season. Nina O’Brien essentially hip-checked so hard that she fell in her first run, but somehow was able to recover, stand, and finish, although she did not qualify for a second run.
Erin Mielzynski was the only Canadian skier able to complete two solid runs, finishing in the top 30 as 25th overall. Her teammates, Laurence St. Germain, Roni Remme, and Amelia Smart, did not qualify for a second run.
- Mikaela Shiffrin (USA): 1:57.57 – Atomic/Atomic
- Wendy Holdener (SUI): +1.78 – Head / Head
- Katharina Truppe (AUT): +1.94 – Fischer/Fischer
- Anna Swenn Larsson (SWE): +2.41 – Head / Head
- Nina Haver-Loeseth (NOR): +2.51 – Rossignol/Rossignol
- Michelle Gisin (SUI): +3.17 – Rossignol/Rossignol
- Katharina Liensberger (AUT): +3.24 – Rossignol/Rossignol
- Katharina Huber (AUT): +3.40 – Fischer/Fischer
- Martina Dubovska (CZE): +3.67 – Volkl/Marker/Dalbello
- Lena Duerr (GER): +3.73 – Head / Head
For full race results, please click here.