ÅRE, Sweden – Petra Vlhova is back on course to become the first Slovakian to win skiing’s overall World Cup title.
Vlhova defended her first-run advantage in a slalom to claim her 20th career victory on Friday. She moved 64 points ahead of Swiss rival Lara Gut-Behrami – who does not race slaloms – in the overall standings.
Vlhova finished 0.20 seconds ahead of recently crowned world champion Katharina Liensberger and 0.64 ahead of Mikaela Shiffrin.
Vlhova held her arms out wide and spun around in the finish area to celebrate.
She led the overall for almost the entire season until Gut-Behrami’s recent success in speed events pushed her ahead.
“Of course I feel pressure but I know how to manage this pressure,” Vlhova said. “Every race is a lesson for me. … I’m trying to be perfect.”
Shiffrin, who stood second after the opening run, pulled off a major recovery after a big mistake in her second trip down.
Jeff Lackie, Shiffrin’s coach, set the second run, but that didn’t help the American when she lost control on the upper portion of the course.
“Even though there was a mistake I was still pushing a lot. It was still good skiing,” Shiffrin said.
“I’m more proud of this third than I am of some of the wins I’ve had in my career, because I felt like I earned it and I fought for it. You have to fight to the finish and I felt like I did that,” Shiffrin added.
The race was held under the lights at dusk.
Vlhova also added to her lead in the slalom standings, where she now leads Shiffrin by 85 points and Liensberger by 90 points.
Wendy Holdener and Lena Duerr finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
American Paula Moltzan, who turned in the 15th-fastest first run, had the seventh-fastest second run to end up ninth — to match her career-best. For the first time in her career, she will be starting in the top-15 on Saturday.
Nina O’Brien finished 22nd on the day, which is her second-best result in slalom of the season.
Katie Hensien also started for the Americans and had the 25th fastest time after the first run, but went down on her hip at the fourth gate and recorded a DNF the second run. Resi Stiegler had a solid top section first run, but finished just outside of the 30. AJ Hurt and Lila Lapanja also started for the Americans but did not qualify for a second run.
The up-and-coming Canadian team continued its promising season with Laurence St-Germain in 11th and a career-best 12th place finish for Ali Nellmeyer.
Nullmeyer, from Toronto, also clocked the fastest second run time.
“The snow was perfect and clean for me so I tried to take advantage of that,” Nullmeyer said about her second run. “I’m super stoked and excited to get to go again tomorrow.”
The 26-year-old St-Germain moved into sixth place in the overall slalom standings with her sixth top 20 finish.
“I am pretty happy with today, I’m a bit bummed because I had a mistake second run but I’m happy with 11th. I had a good mindset throughout the day so I just want to bring that to tomorrow’s race,” said St-Germain. “The highlight of the day is Ali’s second run. It was great to see her in the top-15. She’s been fast in training so it was just a matter of time before she pulled off a result like this.”
Another slalom is scheduled for Saturday in Åre. Then the finals start in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, on Wednesday.
World Cup – Women’s Slalom – Åre, Sweden – March 12, 2021