The New Year started perfectly for two of the leading stars on the women FIS Alpine Ski World Cup tour at Oslo and Zagreb where first Petra Vlhova and then Mikaela Shiffrin dominated the rest of the field in the recent City Event at Oslo and on the long and challenging ‘Sljeme’ course at Zagreb.
Slovakia’s powerful Petra Vlhova crushed Mikaela Shiffrin during the final of the Norwegian parallel race, yet the American took a splendid revenge on her arch-rival a week later in Croatia where she beat her by the impressive margin of 1,25 seconds.
Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener – already 3rd at Oslo – was once more 3rd in the slalom race at 1,75 seconds. Forth place finisher Frida Hansdotter, slalom Olympic Champion in Korea, was already abyssal 2,97 seconds away!
It was Mikaela’s fourth triumph in the VIP-Queen Trophy in total – as much as her former idol Marlies Schild – and her 52nd World Cup win since December 2012.
Unbeaten in a World Cup slalom for the seventh time in a row in ten months, Shiffrin has already reached the mark of ten season wins with more than two months of racing left until the Finals in Andorra in March. Chances are great that the athlete from Vail Valley can pass the record of fourteen season-win established in 1989 by Switzerland’s Vreni Schneider and improve the milestone of Slovenia’s Tina Maze, who scored an impressive amount on 2,414 points in 2013 with multiple victories in all specialties! Mikaela has already amassed a total of 1’214 World Cup points so far – but there are still 21 competitions left on the calendar until the Finals including nine technical races.
“It’s always special to compete in Zagreb, I like the atmosphere and the challenging slope too,” Shiffrin explained after the race. “I went thru various kinds of emotions here since my first race a few years ago, but I basically feel confident when I am at the start. I know what I need to do to ski fast here,” she added.
“It has been an amazing season for me so far and I have to thank all my team to help me so much and so well to move at that level. There are a group of excellent skiers out there and you really need to give all the time your best to succeed. At Oslo, Petra Vlhova was just better in the final runs, more focused and more aggressive too. She was also smarter and doing everything well, so she fully deserved her win there. She made me refocused and motivated me a lot again for this race.”
“In fact my first run was pretty good, also because the course conditions were so nice. They allow me to give my best all the way. It’s a nice feeling to do this kind of skiing. I was just enjoying my very best skiing, powerful and take advantage of such a good surface. In the second run I also wanted to ski fast, not to defend my win.”
Petra Vlhova, 2nd for the fifth time this winter, fought as hard as usual to challenge her as well as recently in Semmering and Oslo, yet she didn’t find her most efficient rhythm on the Sljeme course, especially not in the first leg. “I didn’t ski as well in the first run, yet I found back my best level afterwards,” she told the press. “It’s good to be so consistent this season, which has been one of my main goals, and I’ll keep on fighting hard to also win a slalom,” the skier from Jasna added. “Mikaela skied again really well today, but I’m very pleased by my form and my results this winter. The victory at Oslo after my amazing win in giant slalom at Semmering was very exciting. I am ready for more.” So far Petra has enjoyed a total of twenty podium finishes on the World Cup tour including her six wins.
She surely remains very motivated by the idea of soon also win a slalom after her impressive season start. Her spectacular victory at Oslo surely is a strong boost for her moral. “It was great to achieve great runs here and to finally be on top of the podium,” she said in Oslo at the post-race press conference.
“I kept on pushing hard in each run until the end. To beat Mikaela is very special of course as everybody knows how strong she is. I felt so great crossing the finish line in the lead during the last run, it’s an amazing day for me.”
Petra also explained that she did spent some time improving her special technique used in parallel slalom which consists of smashing the gates by her two hands as the men do. “I am tall and powerful so it makes sense for me to ski that way,” she explained. “It definitely can be an advantage for me. I like parallel slalom which is a spectacular event for the racers and the crowds.”
The next technical events are scheduled this week at Flachau, in Austria, where a night-slalom will take place, and the following week by a giant slalom at Kronplatz/ San Vigilio, in Italy. In between the speed specialists will be racing at St. Anton am Arlberg, where USA’s Lindsey Vonn is supposed to make her comeback after a two-month-long break following her latest knee injury sustained while training Super-G at Copper Mountain, in Colorado.
Written by: Patrick Lang