Petra Vlhova cemented her status as the leading female slalom skier of the season with her fifth win from six races on Sunday with just a month to go before the Olympic race in Beijing.
The defending overall World Cup champion from Slovakia won the penultimate slalom before the Games as she denied first-run leader Wendy Holdener of Switzerland a first career win.
Mikaela Shiffrin was third after the opening runin Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, but skied out in what seemed a blistering-fast second run until the American straddled a gate.
It was the first time in nearly four years Shiffrin failed to finish a slalom. In January 2018, she skied out in the second run of a race in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, the last slalom before the Pyeongchang Olympics.
Shiffrin defeated Vlhova to win her home race in Killington, Vermont, in November, but all other slaloms this season went the Slovakian’s way.
“I am always trying to be the best, to be the fastest in the race. I am satisfied about my second run, especially,” Vlhova said.
WATCH | Vlhova rides fastest 2nd-run time to victory:
Shiffrin had been aiming to set a new record in a single discipline, where she is tied on 46 giant slalom victories with former Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark. But her hopes were dashed after she straddled a gate.
The first time in nearly four years that <a href=”https://twitter.com/MikaelaShiffrin?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@MikaelaShiffrin</a> failed to finish a slalom…. 🤯<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/fisalpine?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#fisalpine</a> <a href=”https://t.co/f9w5g5jFi4″>pic.twitter.com/f9w5g5jFi4</a>
Stenmark set his record during his 1974-1989 career on the men’s tour.
Trailing Holdener by eight-100ths of a second, Vlhova had the fastest second-run time to put pressure on the Swiss leader as the last starter.
Racing in her 100th career slalom, Holdener held on to her lead for the first half of her run but ultimately finished 0.23 behind Vlhova, who clocked a two-run time of 1:44.29. Anna Swenn Larsson of Sweden was 1.06 behind in third (1:44.52).
‘Second run I did perfect everything’
Toronto’s Ali Nullmeyer was top Canadian in sixth, stopping the clock in 1:46.44, followed by Erin Mielzynski of Collingwood, Ont., in ninth (1:46.92).
Teammates Amelia Smart and Laurence St-Germain were 13th and 22nd of 28 finishers.
WATCH | Nullmeyer, Mielzynski place inside top 10:
Vlhova called the race ” big fight” after criticizing course conditions following days of snowfall in the Slovenian resort.
“This morning I was a little bit angry because when I saw conditions, they were not, like, perfect, not like World Cup race,” Vlhova said.
“Second run I did perfect everything. In the end it is another victory, so I’m happy because my team, they do everything for me to be in perfect shape.”
It was the Slovakian’s 25th career win. She leads the discipline standings by a massive 240 points from runner-up Shiffrin. The American, however, remained in the overall lead, 35 points ahead of Vlhova.
World Cup and world slalom champion Katharina Liensberger of Austria also straddled a gate in her second run.
No spectators were allowed at the event, which had been moved from another Slovenian resort, Maribor, because of a lack snow.
The next race is a night slalom in Schladming, Austria, on Tuesday in an event relocated from Flachau, which has been hit by a recent rise in coronavirus infections.