Impressive Vlhova holds off Shiffrin to end American’s slalom run
Two brilliant runs from Petra Vlhova saw her end World Cup leader Mikaela Shiffrin's winning run in the slalom at Zagreb on Saturday.
After Shiffrin’s statement win in Lienz before the turn of the year the American had won six World Cup slalom races in a row, dating back to the start of 2019 when Vlhova beat her in Flachau.
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And the Slovakian flew out the gates as the first skier to race in 2020, setting the early pace with a first run time of 57.25.
The next five skiers struggled to cope with Vlhova’s early speed and then there was an uncharacteristic error from Shiffrin.
She was second after the first run, such was her recovery, but she was still over a second down on Vlhova going into the second run.
Knowing she had to throw everything at her second Shiffrin put in the sort of blistering performance we have become accustomed to seeing.
The American clocked a time of 1:00.88, over two seconds ahead of the previous leader Katharina Liensberger.
But Vlhova more than matched her, rather than crumble the Slovakian rose to the occasion, going 0.15 quicker than Shiffrin for a total time of 1:57.98, 1.31 ahead of her rival to take the win and to be crowned the Snow Queen in Zagreb.
“I don’t know what to say." Vlhova said afterwards.
"Today I felt great from the morning and I finally did both runs really perfect with no mistakes and this victory was really important because in Zagreb I have often been second
" To ski as fast as possible I knew Mikky [Mikaela] would go really fast so I knew if I wanted to win I had to risk and I finally I did it. "
Vlhova still trails Shiffrin in both the overall and slalom standings but she has closed the gap partially with a host of slalom races due to come over the next few weeks.
It opens up the possibility of more of a title race but the pressure will be on Vlhova to put a similar performance together in Flachau in ten days time.
By her own admission her putting two runs together like this has been a long time coming, now she needs to do it on a more regular basis.