Petra Vlhova of Slovakia claimed a riveting World Cup women’s slalom in Croatia’s capital on Tuesday to deny second-placed Mikaela Shiffrin a record 47th win in any single discipline after finishing half a second ahead of her rival.
Vlhova, who has now won four of the season’s five slaloms, produced a pair of flawless runs, the second under the most intense pressure as she was the last to weave her way down the hill after Shiffrin had jumped into pole position.
She posted a two-run time of one minute 56.99 seconds, with American rival Shiffrin 50-100ths of a second behind in 1:57.49. Austria’s Katharina Liensberger was third in 1:59.10.
Shiffrin, who returned to action after missing two events following a positive COVID-19 test, had hoped to break Ingemar Stenmark’s record but she remains tied with the former Swedish men’s great who has 46 giant slalom wins.
Toronto’s Ali Nullmeyer was top Canadian, jumping from 17th spot to place a career-best fifth in 1:59.57, followed by teammates Roni Remme in 17th (2:01.10) and Amelia Smart 20th (2:01.43). Erin Mielzynski was one of seven skiers to not finish.
Vlhova was delighted after seeing off her rivals on a difficult course littered with leaves from the nearby woods, with the snow deteriorating due to warm weather and a strong wind which forced the organizers to remove the finish-line banner.
“I just wanted to ski cleanly through the gates knowing that a lot of the girls had problems,” she told Eurosport.
‘I feel really happy and confident’
“It was really tough because the conditions were not so perfect. The Zagreb course is also a really long one, so you need to find some extra breathing at the bottom.
“I feel really happy and confident, winning in a row is not easy because there is a lot of pressure from outside, but I am trying to have one big bubble around me and enjoy my skiing.”
The outcome will also be a major confidence boost for last season’s overall World Cup winner Vlhova ahead of the Feb. 4-20 Beijing Olympics, where she will aim for her first-ever medal at the Games.
Vlhova tops the season’s slalom standings on 480 points, 140 ahead of second-placed Shiffrin who leads the overall World Cup on 830 points. Vlhova is second on 715 points and Italian Sofia Goggia third on 657.
The women’s World Cup season continues with a giant slalom on Saturday and Sunday’s slalom in Slovenia’s Kranjska Gora.