Mikaela Shiffrin had the fastest second run in a World Cup slalom Saturday, showing progress during a tough stretch, but missed the podium in Are, Sweden, by .02 of a second.
“I’m a little bit uncertain right now,” Shiffrin said. “In training I feel so good. In races, I hold back. I’m trying not to hold back.”
Shiffrin, the 19-year-old Olympic slalom champion, finished fourth at a venue where she won the previous two seasons, including her first World Cup victory two years ago.
Swede Maria Pietilae-Holmner, fastest in the first run, held on to beat Slovenia’s Tina Maze by .06. Swede Frida Hansdotter was third, just ahead of Shiffrin. With the fastest second run in the field, Shiffrin moved up one spot from fifth in the first run.
“The second run was the first time this year, in a slalom, where I got in the gate, and I was like, OK, I can do this,” said Shiffrin, adding she’s been making changes with her boots.
Hansdotter, Maze and Pietilae-Holmner make up the top three in the World Cup slalom standings. Shiffrin, who won the World Cup slalom season title the last two seasons, is sixth, 101 points behind Hansdotter, through three of a scheduled nine races.
Shiffrin is in the midst of a five-race World Cup podium drought and a three-race winless drought in slalom, both the longest stretches for her since that maiden victory in Are two years ago.
“I have to learn how to come back,” said Shiffrin, much happier to be fourth and .02 off the podium than 11th, as she was in her season-opening slalom in Finland on Nov. 15. “My first three, four years on the World Cup has been pretty smooth, lots of winning and perfect equipment and perfect everything. Now, I’m learning how to fight through some bumps in the road. I have to stay positive.”
The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup continues with a downhill and super-G in Val d’Isere, France, next weekend. Lindsey Vonn is expected to do both races.
Shiffrin’s plan, as of November, was to make her World Cup super-G debut in Val d’Isere, which would be the first time she and Vonn enter the same race since Jan. 27, 2013.