Mikaela Shiffrin earned a third straight World Cup win, her fifth in nine races this season and the 48th of her career, taking a parallel slalom in St. Moritz, Switzerland on Sunday. But it was close.
The Olympic slalom and giant slalom champion cruised through the bracket-format event before a close final. Shiffrin qualified fastest by .48 of a second, then won each of her four head-to-head rounds by clear margins (1.31, .62, .2 and .56) before rallying to beat Slovakian Petra Vlhova by .11 in the final.
Last December, Shiffrin edged Vlhova by .04 in a parallel slalom.
“I saw the look in her eyes before the final at the start,” Shiffrin said of her younger rival. “I was thinking, ooh, she really wants to beat me.”
Shiffrin made an early mistake in the final and trailed Vlhova midway down the side-by-side courses before pushing ahead in the last several gates.
“I was going a little bit off the course, and I could see her next to me, just ahead,” Shiffrin said. “She was going faster and faster, and I was thinking, oh, no, you’re giving it away.”
Shiffrin is the first woman to win five of the first nine races in a season since Lindsey Vonn in 2011.
“If you want to beat her,” Vlhova said, “you have to go without any mistake.”
Shiffrin, who has been a little ill in St. Moritz, will skip next week’s downhill and super-G in Val Gardena, Italy. Her next expected starts are a Dec. 21-22 giant slalom and slalom in Courchevel, France.
If Shiffrin wins that slalom, she will tie Austrian Marlies Schild‘s record 35 slalom victories. If she wins both Courchevel races, Shiffrin will tie Alberto Tomba for seventh on the World Cup list with 50 victories.
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