Friday’s giant slalom in Maribor, Slovenia proved to be nothing short of entertaining. The battle continued between Slovakian Petra Vlhova and American Mikaela Shiffrin, leading to the two technical stars sharing the top spot on the podium in a tie for the win. Together, the pair shared their first wins in Maribor.
“Sometimes it’s nice to be in a sport where there can be more than one winner. There are days when more than one person deserves the top step, to win, and it doesn’t always happen that way and today it happened like that so we can both be happy,” said Shiffrin.
Vlhova pushed hard throughout the second run, demonstrating her will to win by closing the 0.48-second gap that hung between her and Shiffrin after the first run. Hoards of her fans cheered her on as she charged through the finish, confident she overtook the lead.
“We train really hard and work hard as a team, that’s why I’m here at the top,” said Vlhova. “I have to say thank you [to my fans], they came here to support to me and it means a lot. I felt like I was at home because they were a lot. It’s good to take a victory for my fans.”
When it came down to Shiffrin’s second run, a small mistake pushed her to the edge, and even she was not confident she could hold her lead over Vlhova. Her reaction to the green light in the finish corral said it all.
“I was a bit surprised to have the green light. In the final gates, I had some advantage and I made a bit of a mistake trying to find the finish too soon, and I almost gave everything away,” she said. “So when I saw the green I was surprised and also relieved. And then I saw the tie and thought ‘yea that makes sense.'”
Vlhova has been putting a lot of pressure on Shiffrin from behind, from time to time, finding her way to the top of the podium, and Shiffrin has taken notice. Recently, Shiffrin decided to take a step back and refocus on her goal to win the overall globe in both the giant slalom and the slalom. As the current leader in the super-G, she had given some thought to going for the overall, but after many close calls with Vlhova and other top technical athletes, does not want to lose sight of her original 2018/19 season goals.
“I try to be really careful about not overshooting or changing my plans like crazy in the middle of a season. That might sound kind of stubborn because for sure I’m in an amazing spot in super-G right now, but I think it would add one too many things to the plate and could potentially kind of ruin all of my other goals” said Shiffrin. “I decided not to take a stab at that and I’m actually quite relieved at that decision as well, because then going to each super-G that I do compete in is – there’s no pressure, there’s no expectations, I’m just trying to put out my best skiing and see what happens.”
For Mowinckel, finding her way back onto the podium after a trying season was a relief. The Norweigan came out strong in Killington with a giant slalom second and then again in Lake Louise with a super-G second but has not been able to break until the top three again until Maribor.
Tessa Worley, currently second in the giant slalom overall standings, was in third after the first run but made a major error that threw her back into ninth, allowing for Mowinckel’s aggressive second run to push her from sixth onto the podium.
“It’s been a kind of jump in the performance for my sake from the start of the season up until…well it’s somewhat been going up and down. It’s good to have this result here and take that with me into World Champs,” said Mowinckel.
The foggy, wet, and low light conditions in Maribor caused trouble for many of the athletes including giant slalom specialists Viktoria Rebensburg and Federica Brignone. Both women had to ski out during their first run due to the conditions. American AJ Hurt was also unable to finish her first run, whereas Nina O’Brien did not make the cut to qualify for a second run.
Next, the women head into World Championships in Are, Sweden, kicking off with the super-G on February 5th.
1. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) 2:31:31 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3. Ragnhild Mowinckel (NOR): +0.93 – Head/Head/Head
4. Wendy Holdener (SUI): +1.29 – Head/Head/Head
5. Sara Hector (SWE): +1.50 – Head/Head/Head
7. Marta Bassino (ITA): +1.71 – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
8. Meta Hrovat (SLO): +2.39 – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
For full results, click here.