A little fresh snowfall wasn’t enough to slow down American Mikaela Shiffrin on her way to taking the win in Sunday’s World Cup parallel slalom in St. Moritz, Switzerland — her 48th career victory on tour.
In contrast to Saturday’s picture-perfect super-G, racing action on Sunday in St. Moritz took place under dark, snowy skies as the knockout rounds of the parallel slalom got underway at 1:30pm local time. The field of women took part in a morning qualification run that seeded the fastest 32 racers for the elimination rounds. Shiffrin qualified first and cruised her way into the finals where she faced Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova in a rematch of last season’s parallel final in Courchevel, France.
Shiffrin looked to be in some trouble, however, as Vlhova began to pick up a slight lead heading into the final, quick gates before the finish. Shiffrin, never one to leave anything to chance, stepped on the gas and managed to pull herself together before besting the Slovakian by a slim 0.11 seconds at the line for the win. In the small final, Switzerland’s home-crowd favorite, Wendy Holdener, defeated Austria’s Katharina Liensberger for third place.
“I think there’s a lot of motivation there, also with Wendy,” Shiffrin said of her blossoming parallel rivalry with Vlhova. “Of course, we all want to win, but in the start you can see it in our eyes; we’re trying to fight harder and be tougher. Today, I managed with 11-hundredths and maybe next time it’s different so I’m thankful and excited.”
Shiffrin now enjoys a 393 point lead in the overall standings with 689 total points to second place in the standings, Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin, who has amassed 296.
Shiffrin has opted to skip next weekend’s rescheduled speed races in Val Gardena, Italy, and will instead recuperate from a minor sickness and get some valuable training under her belt before returning to the tour in Courchevel in two weeks time.
“It was always my decision to skip Val d’Isere and when the races were changed, I started to think about [racing], but I need to get this training and finish this sickness and get ready for the next races in Courchevel so I’ll be back in a little bit,” she said after the race.
Vlhova nearly had Shiffrin beat just meters from the finish line but a slight bobble in the closing gates gave Shiffrin the opening she needed to squeak out the win. Also one of Shiffrin’s primary rivals in traditional slalom, Vlhova will no doubt be looking to unseat the American from the top of the podium in the coming races.
“I thought I had won it, too,” Vlhova admitted at the post-race press conference. “I didn’t see Mikaela and I started to think, ‘Ah, I’m a little bit in front! Now I have to risk.’ I took that risk but made a little mistake and lost it on the last part when she went in front of me. I was really angry when I crossed the finish line but if you want to win you have to do it without any mistakes and then it comes. Mikaela is really strong and if you want to beat her you have to go without any mistakes because she always goes full-gas but anyways, it’s good to be on the podium again.”
Holdener defeated Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter — herself a top-tier parallel skier — in the first knockout round after a mishap in her qualification run saw the Swiss star post the 31st fastest time, matching her with second-seeded Hansdotter right off the bat. Holdener battled her way through the knockout rounds, picking off skier after skier before eventually defeating Liensberger in the small final for her first podium appearance of the season.
“At the qualification I thought I was not going to race this afternoon,” she said. “When I knew I was going to have a second chance, I was really happy and knew I had a really hard competitor in Frida. I tried to change my skiing and went all in and it worked out.
Resi Stiegler was the only other American competitor on Sunday and finished 44th in the morning’s qualification run.
The women’s tour now heads to Val Gardena, Italy, for downhill, super-G, and combined races Dec. 17-19.
- Mikaela Shiffrin (USA)- Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Petra Vlhova (SVK)- Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Wendy Holdener (SUI)- Head/Head/Head
- Katharina Liensberger (AUT)- Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Nina Loeseth (NOR)- Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Stephanie Brunner (AUT)- Head/Head/Head
- Erin Mielzynski (CAN)- Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Lena Duerr (GER)- Head/Head/Head
For complete FIS results, please click here.