Mikaela Shiffrin called out an “unprofessional” delay after just missing a 70th World Cup victory as Slovakian rival Petra Vlhova won a giant slalom on her home hill in Jasna, Slovakia, on Sunday.
Shiffrin, the first-run leader by .16 of a second over Vlhova, ended up third after the second run, when she was held at the start for two and a half minutes while at least two course workers fixed a gate after Vlhova, the penultimate skier, went into the lead.
Shiffrin said she believed the delay was done on purpose, calling it “unprofessional” and “ridiculous” while not taking away from Vlhova’s 19th World Cup victory.
“That should take 30 seconds,” Shiffrin said. “I just felt like she’s a good enough skier to win these races on her own and doesn’t need this unprofessional act from something that she doesn’t have control over, or I don’t have control over, but just [for others] to say, oh, she’s in the lead, and let’s see if we can do something to, I don’t know, get in my head or something. I have to handle those situations better, because it happens more often than you think. But that was frustrating because I could have come down in third anyway, she would have won.
“It’s just a bit ridiculous, and that’s really obvious.”
Vlhova prevailed by .16 over New Zealand’s Alice Robinson for an extra meaningful victory.
Vlhova, who last year supplanted Shiffrin as the world’s top slalom skier, ended a 20-race victory drought, her longest internationally since her second World Cup win in March 2017.
“I had a small crisis,” Vlhova said in an emotional finish-area interview. “At the end, on my home slope, I won. This was my dream.”
Shiffrin dropped to third, .37 behind, for her 102nd career podium in her 188th start. She got upset while waiting at the start.
“I just was thinking this is so obviously false, and that makes me mad because, for sure, life’s not fair,” she said. “I know that better than anyone, and ski racing is certainly not always fair, but at least it can be professional.”
Italian Marta Bassino placed fourth and clinched the World Cup season title in the GS.
American Nina O’Brien was fourth after the opening run, then fell in her second run going for her first World Cup podium. Full results are here.
Vlhova gained 71 points on Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami in the standings for the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing. A Slovakian has never captured it.
Gut-Behrami, who is better in downhill and super-G, leads by 36 points going into the last six races. A race winner gets 100 points. Second place gets 80.
Shiffrin, who is not going for the overall title this season, tries again for win No. 70 in slaloms on Friday and Saturday in Are, Sweden, live on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and Peacock Premium. A full TV and live stream schedule is here.
Friday marks the 10th anniversary of her World Cup slalom debut at age 15.
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