It was a day of surprises in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, for the women’s World Cup slalom on Sunday. With the second run finish line in sight, American superstar Mikaela Shiffrin found herself out of balance and in the blink of an eye was flying out of the course, giving the win to Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova.
“I let it go a little too soon,” Shiffrin said. “At the end of the course with less energy in my legs I wasn’t able to make that recovery that I needed to pull off what I was trying to do in the flush. I’m for sure disappointed, couple inches to the right and I would have been fine but that happens.”
Vlhova, second-place finisher Frida Hansdotter, and Switzerand’s Wendy Holdener didn’t know how to initially react to Shiffrin’s misfortune, with unsure looks abound before congratulations were eventually exchanged. It’s such a rarity to see Shiffrin finish off the podium — much less not finish at all — in slalom that Holdener was actually on her way out of the finish area before being called back in to take third place.
“I was really happy because you know, last races were not so good but not so bad,” Vlhova said. “After first run I was really angry because I did a really bad run. In the second run I tried to go full gas and I’m back on the podium so it’s amazing.”
For Hansdotter, her current streak of slalom podiums will no doubt do wonders for her confidence heading into next month’s Olympics in South Korea. The Swede will be looking to add some Olympic hardware to her already impressive trophy case.
“At first when I came down I didn’t think it was going to be enough for the podium but it showed that Petra was skiing so good,” she admitted. “It was fun to come on the podium again and the fifth in a row. For sure it’s always sad (when a competitor goes out), it’s not fun for (Mikaela), but in one way it’s also nice to see that she’s also human. She’s been skiing so good this season and you know when Mikaela is in the right spot she is so fast. In one way it’s nice for us others to feel a little bit like we are up there but I think she will come back even stronger.”
Holdener admitted to putting a lot of pressure on herself to perform in front of a home crowd. Initially deflated after her second run, it was a mix of emotions when she saw that she had in fact made the podium.
“In the end, it’s really good,” an emotional Holdener shared after the race. “I had some problems today. The pressure was high and I couldn’t ski as normal, it was hard for me. I had a big fight with myself and in the end I am for sure happy with the third place.”
Sunday was Shiffrin’s first DNF in a World Cup slalom since going out in the first run of the 2017 Snow Queen Trophy in Zagreb, Croatia, over a year ago. With a race-heavy January, Shiffrin admitted to some fatigue and is looking forward to some much-needed training and rest.
“I’m really excited to get some time to actually train, it feels like it’s been — it’s actually been — weeks since I actually had any solid, focused training days, it’s just been racing since Cortina,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to some rest, some training, and then going to the Olympics.”
“Momentum is a funny thing, sometimes you have it and sometimes you don’t,” she added about her two-week slump. “During that period when we were just racing every other day there wasn’t much to do, it just kept going into the next race and I wasn’t getting that much training but nobody was. And now, going against some girls who are not doing speed and just focusing on GS or going against girls who are not doing so much GS or speed, they’re just focused on slalom, it’s a little bit harder to stay on top of that.”
Resi Stiegler finished in 18th place as the only other American finisher. Nina O’Brien did not qualify for a second run.
The men and women now travel to Stockholm, Sweden for a parallel city event on Tuesday, Jan. 30.
- Petra Vlhova (SVK) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Frida Hansdotter (SWE) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Wendy Holdener (SUI) – Head/Head/Head
- Melanie Meillard (SUI) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Nina Haver-Loeseth (NOR) – Rossignol/Lange/Look
- Katharina Liensberger (AUT) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Katharina Gallhuber (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Erin Mielzynski (CAN) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Irene Curtoni (ITA) – Rossignol/Lange/Look
- Denise Feierabend (SUI) – Head/Head/Head
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|12||15||705287||VELEZ ZUZULOVA Veronika||1984||SVK||58.04||55.10||1:53.14||+2.61||17.00||22|
|14||9||506146||SWENN LARSSON Anna||1991||SWE||59.05||54.69||1:53.74||+3.21||20.91||18|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|61||6535773||O BRIEN Nina||1997||USA||1:01.23||0|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|49||426100||HOLTMANN Mina Fuerst||1995||NOR||0|
|35||197319||BAUD MUGNIER Adeline||1992||FRA||0|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not start 1st run|