Mikaela Shiffrin began 2015 the way she finished 2014, winning her second straight World Cup slalom race and putting an early-season slump further behind her.
Shiffrin, who became the youngest Olympic slalom champion in Sochi, dominated to earn the “Snow Queen” title in Zagreb, Croatia, on Sunday.
She posted the fastest time in both runs and prevailed by 1.68 seconds over Austrian Kathrin Zettel. Norway’s Nina Loeseth was third.
“Mikaela is from a different planet,” Zettel said, according to The Associated Press. “It looks like nothing can go wrong.”
It marked Shiffrin’s largest margin of victory of her 12 career World Cup wins.
“For the first time in my career, I feel like I’m in complete control,” Shiffrin, who did a crossword puzzle and hugged Croatian legend Janica Kostelic before racing, said in a Zagreb press conference.
Shiffrin earned a queen’s crown, robe and sat on a throne for her victory. Shiffrin won the same race two years ago, and her crown broke.
She also jumped from fourth into second place in the World Cup season slalom standings, through five of nine races. She is one point behind Swedish leader Frida Hansdotter.
She’s won consecutive races after going five races without a podium finish and six without a win, the longest droughts since she won her first World Cup race more than two years ago.
She fought illness, put off making her World Cup super-G debut and focused on fixing her slalom, including equipment changes.
Shiffrin won her 11th career World Cup slalom race Sunday, matching the record for most victories in the discipline before turning 20 years old. France’s Perrine Pelen also took 11 in the 1970s and ’80s.
Shiffrin will have two more chances for No. 12 before turning 20 on March 13.
The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup continues with a downhill and super-G in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria, next weekend. Lindsey Vonn is expected to compete. Shiffrin said Sunday she won’t race a super-G before the World Championships in February, much to the chagrin of World Cup overall leader Tina Maze.
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