Neither Mikaela Shiffrin nor Petra Vlhova made a World Cup slalom podium for the first time in six years, while Vlhova again gained on Shiffrin in the overall standings on Saturday to set up a head-to-head title tilt at next week’s World Cup Finals.
World champion Katharina Liensberger, fifth after the opening run, won by .16 of a second combining times over two runs in Are, Sweden, for the Austrian’s first victory this season.
Norwegian Mina Fuerst Holtmann, 10th after the first run, and Swiss Michelle Gisin, sixth after the first run, rounded out the surprise podium.
Vlhova, second after the first run, had a chance to nearly erase Shiffrin’s 77-point lead in the standings for the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing.
But Vlhova finished fourth, missing a slalom podium for the first time this season. Shiffrin dropped from fourth after the first run to place ninth, her worst result in a slalom that she finished since November 2014.
Vlhova still gained another 21 points on Shiffrin in the overall standings, a day after chopping 40 points off Shiffrin’s lead. Shiffrin entered the week with a 117-point lead. Now it’s down to 56 points going into the season-ending World Cup Finals next week in France.
The World Cup Finals include a race in each of the four disciplines — downhill, super-G, giant slalom and slalom.
A race winner receives 100 points, with 80 points to second place and 60 for third place on a descending scale through 30th place (through 15th at finals). So the overall title could come down to the last race of the 37-race season, a giant slalom on March 13.
Last year, Vlhova became the first Slovakian to win the overall.
Shiffrin won three overalls in a row from 2017-19 and is looking to tie Lindsey Vonn for second place in women’s history at four, trailing only Austrian Annemarie Moser-Pröll, who won six in the 1970s.
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