Mikaela Shiffrin is back on top in 2019, continuing her winning streak and remaining undefeated in slalom in the 2018/19 season. She has earned the title of Snow Queen for the fourth time in her career, after creating major separation from the rest of the field, 1.25 seconds ahead of runner-up Petra Vlhova.
Vlhova bested Shiffrin in the parallel slalom just last week, a win the Slovakian had been striving for since the beginning of the season. After finishing second to Shiffrin in each slalom and parallel event thus far, a win was well-deserved. On Saturday in Zagreb, Shiffrin fought back to the top.
“I wasn’t skiing to protect something today. That was my goal for the day, and I’m happy with that,” said Shiffrin. “I was trying not to focus on revenge, but I was definitely trying to do really aggressive skiing and earn the win, I wanted to deserve that.”
The men and women’s slalom takes place on the Medvednica Mountoup Sljeme, north of Zagreb, Croatia’s capital. The track has been an anticipated stop on the tour since it joined the circuit in 2008, particularly for Shiffrin. Her first win came in 2013 at the age of 17, where she became the youngest athlete to have ever been victorious at the venue. Since then, she has worn the Snow Queen crown in 2015, 2017, and 2019.
“It’s the perfect track to be aggressive. I’ve had some amazing races here, I’ve also had a couple of disappointing races. I felt all the emotions in this race,” said Shiffrin. “I skied with pressure, I skied really free, it’s always special to come back to a venue like this when you’ve felt all the different emotions and you can still go in the start and say with confidence, ‘I know what to do to be fast here.'”
Vlhova, who was less excited about the hard, fast surface, was satisfied with a second place finish given the fight she had to put up in order to succeed in conditions that she felt were not favorable.
“Today was a really big fight with the conditions because conditions were really hard and icy. You need a lot of power to come down. In Zagreb, the slope is really long, so the last part, the last steep part, you need to take a lot of power and fight all of the time,” said Vlhova. “It was a difficult race but I’m on the podium so everything is done and we are happy.”
Third place finisher Wendy Holdener had a different opinion. In her case, she loves when the snow is hard and appreciated skiing in a race for the first time this season that truly felt like winter skiing. Overall, she wishes she had been more aggressive.
“I had a really good first run, Mikaela was just too fast,” said Holdener. “And the second run I had a good feeling but the last pitch I was too slow. I skied too nice and didn’t let the skis go.”
Holdener’s third-place finish on Saturday marks the 19th race the Swiss woman has finished on the podium without a victory, a World Cup record.
American Paula Moltzan was sitting in 12th after her first run, but unfortunately straddled near the finish and did not complete her second run. The University of Vermont racer had her career-best finish in Courchevel, France, when she broke into the top fifteen for the first time in her World Cup career. Despite a disappointing finish in Zagreb, Moltzan is still happy with her skiing and looking forward to the next race in Flachau, Austria before heading back to the states.
“Shit kinda happens, you gotta keep it going,” said Moltzan looking back on her mistake in Zagreb. “I’m pretty excited to get back to my college team and keep on racing back in the U.S. But, one more first before we head back and I’m hoping to make that one the best one.”
Christina Geiger of Germany also had a notable performance, tying her career-best finish in fifth. Michelle Gisin returned to the circuit after taking a break to spend time alongside friends and family while her brother, Marc Gisin, recovers from injuries incurred during the men’s downhill in Val Gardena. She finished seventh, 4.02 seconds back from Shiffrin.
The women’s technical circuit will make its next stop in Flachau on Tuesday, January 8th. The first run of slalom will kick off at 6:00 pm Central European Time.
1. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA): 2:01.09 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3. Wendy Holdener (SUI): +1.75 – Head/Head/Head
6. Anna Swenn Larsson (SWE): +3.65 – Head/Head/Head
8. Bernadette Schild (AUT): +4.29 – Head/Head/Head
10. Katharina Truppe (AUT): +4.59 – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
For full FIS results, click here.