Slovakian skier Vlhova beats Shiffrin for 2nd time in 2 days

National Sports

Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova competes during the first run of an alpine ski, World Cup women’s slalom in Levi, Finland, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

LEVI, Finland (AP) — Petra Vlhova got the better of Mikaela Shiffrin for the second time in two days Sunday, winning another women’s World Cup slalom in Finnish Lapland.

The overall World Cup champion from Slovakia was .18 ahead after the first run and ultimately beat her American rival by .47 of a second.

Shiffrin nearly skied out in her final run but did well to recover as she came off the race line turning into the steep pitch and only just managed to clear the next gate.

“I am not disappointed with anything,” said Shiffrin, who has won the race four times.

“I was pushing, made a mistake, and we don’t know what would have happened without the mistake. But after that, I pushed even harder.”

Like she did in Saturday’s race, Vlhova posted the fastest time in both runs. Her winning margin on Sunday was .16 bigger than the day before.

“I like Levi. It was so difficult today. Honestly, I didn’t like too much the second run, so it was like a big fight,” Vlhova said.

“The second run was really tough because the (course set) was very difficult. On the steep I had some trouble but, of course, when I saw it on inspection, I said to (my coach, Mauro) Pini: ‘I have to push.’”

It was the Slovakian’s 22nd career win, 14th in slalom, and fifth in Levi. No skier other than Vlhova or Shiffrin has won the race in Finland since Tina Maze triumphed in 2014.

Lena Dürr placed third as the top three were identical to Saturday’s race. The German was .78 behind for her third career podium finish.

Slalom World Cup and world champion Katharina Liensberger of Austria was 1.64 back in eighth.

In the first run, Vlhova was just under two-tenths of a second faster than Shiffrin on a course set by one of the American’s coaches, Jeff Lackie.

Only .01 ahead at the second check point, Vlhova gained more time on Shiffrin with a smooth transition from the flat into the steep middle section.

“On the flat part I felt not so good because today is harder and the snow surface is more aggressive, so I went really full gas in the steep part,” said Vlhova, who had been in Finland for three weeks to prepare intensively for the first two slaloms of the seasons.

The victory earned Vlhova a fifth reindeer, a prize given to the race winner each year, and she named it after her brother, Boris, as “he is always with me and supports me.”

“I will do at home some small farm,” the Slovakian said jokingly. The animals remain on a local farm in Finland.

Vlhova and Shiffrin now share the lead in the overall standings with 260 points each. Slovenia’s Andreja Slokar, who won last week’s parallel event in Austria where neither Vlhova nor Shiffrin raced, is third with 184 points.

Having dealt with back pain that hampered her preparation for the last few weeks, Shiffrin was aiming for her 46th career win in slalom. It would have seen her match a 32-year-old record for most World Cup wins in a single discipline, set by Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark in giant slalom.

Her next chance to reach the mark comes in front of an American home crowd in Killington, Vermont, next Sunday.

“I have a little bit more confidence after feeling that I could push my skiing … and that’s a really big step,” Shiffrin said.

“It’s also a home race and I want to do well and have a good record there. So, there is some expectations, some pressure there as well, but it’s always very exciting to race in Killington.”

The race weekend on the East Coast also consists of a giant slalom on Saturday.

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