Just as the Olympic season is starting, Mikaela Shiffrin faces maybe her toughest challenge yet in the slalom.
Shiffrin, the reigning Olympic, world and World Cup champion in the discipline, goes into this weekend’s World Cup races in Killington, Vt., having taken second in the last two slaloms behind emerging Slovakian Petra Vlhova.
Sunday’s slalom in Killington, following a giant slalom on Saturday, could determine in the eyes of many the Olympic slalom favorite.
The broadcast schedule:
- Giant Slalom first run – Saturday, 9:45am (Stream here)
- Giant Slalom second run – Saturday, 12:30pm (Olympic Channel) (Stream here)
- Slalom first run – Sunday, 9:45am (Stream here)
- Slalom first run – Sunday, 1 pm (NBC) (Stream here)
Shiffrin, who is 22 like Vlhova, is the reigning World Cup overall champion, an award that honors the best skier across all disciplines over the course of a season.
It was a milestone in the young racer’s career, but as her all-around skills improved, her grip on her signature slalom is no longer iron clad.
Vlhova beat Shiffrin at the World Cup Finals in March in Aspen, Colo., and at this season’s opening slalom in Finland two weeks ago.
“In all honesty, Petra skis like Mikaela more than Mikaela skis like Mikaela,” Shiffrin’s mom, Eileen, said before the Finland race, according to the Denver Post. “Their coaches are always on the hill, videoing Mikaela. I think Petra is going to give Mikaela a real run for her money.”
It marked the first time since December 2013 that another woman won consecutive World Cup slaloms over fields that included Shiffrin. It was Marlies Schild four years ago, just before the Austrian veteran ceded her dominance to Shiffrin going into the Sochi Olympics.
“Mikaela, she’s always fast, but now I am fast,” Vlhova said after her win two weeks ago.
First is Saturday’s giant slalom, where Vlhova is not expected to factor into the podium race.
Shiffrin ranked second in the world in GS last season, continuing a steady rise since placing fifth in Sochi.
Minute Frenchwoman Tessa Worley dominated the GS last season, taking the World Cup and world championships titles, including a win in Killington.
At this season’s opening giant slalom in October, Shiffrin was in second place after the first run but got bumped off her line in the second run and ended up fifth.
Worley ended up second behind 2010 Olympic GS champion Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany.
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