Slovakian Petra Vlhova and Frenchman Alexis Pinturault won their first Alpine skiing World Cup overall titles, while Mikaela Shiffrin finished second in the slalom standings on Saturday.
Vlhova became the first person from her nation to win ski racing’s biggest annual prize by placing sixth in the women’s slalom at the World Cup Finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
“It means a lot because I made history. I cannot believe it,” Vlhova said on ORF, noting being disappointed with the slalom result while acknowledging the difficulty of doing all 30 races so far this season. “This, for us, was main goal for this season.”
Vlhova needed to finish 15th or better to mathematically clinch over Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami with one race remaining, a giant slalom on Sunday.
Vlhova, who last year supplanted Shiffrin as the world’s best slalom skier, was overtaken in this season’s final slalom standings by Austrian Katharina Liensberger.
Liensberger, the 23-year-old gold medalist at last month’s world championships, won on Saturday by 1.24 seconds over Shiffrin, denying the American a seventh slalom season title. Liensberger came into the season with a best World Cup race finish of third, yet in the last month won worlds and two World Cups all by seven tenths of a second or more.
“I couldn’t expect anything,” before the season, said Liensberger, who steadily rose in the slalom standings in her 20s, from 14th to seventh to third last year. “I knew just from the last seasons that I’m just getting better.”
Shiffrin, who went 300 days between races in 2020, needed to finish higher than Liensberger to have a chance at the crystal globe.
“There’s a lot of things that went totally different this season, and I had a lot of uncertainty personally,” Shiffrin said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “It’s been quite successful, even if it’s comparatively not as successful as other seasons. It’s a really good stepping stone for me.”
Earlier, Pinturault won a men’s giant slalom and clinched the overall on his 30th birthday. Pinturault finished second or third in the overall standings on five previous occasions. He began Saturday with 33 World Cup race victories, the most for any man yet to win an overall.
“I worked so hard for so many years,” he said. “I was always searching for, pushing for [titles].”
Pinturault went into the World Cup Finals leading Swiss Marco Odermatt by 31 points. After the downhill and super-G were canceled due to weather, he was in position to win the overall by finishing ahead of Odermatt in the GS.
Pinturault not only won the GS race, but he also claimed his first season title in that discipline after placing second or third the previous eight years, usually behind Marcel Hirscher, Ted Ligety or both.
The World Cup Finals finish Sunday. A full TV and live stream schedule is here.
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