Ingemar Stenmark

Shiffrin stands alone atop slalom podium, gets second win in Maribor

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The U.S.’ Mikaela Shiffrin and Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova were locked in an Alpine ski battle for the second time this weekend in Maribor. A day after the two friendly rivals happily shared first place in giant slalom, Shiffrin and Vlhova laid down thier opening runs in slalom, with Shiffrin holding an edge of a full second at the break.

Vlhova pushed Shiffrin in the second run of Friday’s GS, but could she do it again in slalom, an event Shiffrin has owned on the World Cup, winning more than half the races she’s entered — 37 wins in all.

The previous slalom held this season was won by Vlhova, who’s second run was fast enough to relegate Shiffrin to second, stopping Shiffrin one win short of tying the most-consecutive World Cup slalom win record of eight.  In the last 17 slalom races staged on the World Cup stretching back to March 2017, the top podium spot has either gone to Shiffrin (13 wins) or Vlhova (4 wins).

With race time air temperatures in the mid-50s, and a second run course set to help mitigate ruts in the soft surface around the gates, Vlhova dropped in just ahead of Shiffrin, while Sweden’s Anna Swenn Larsson sat at the bottom of the hill as the current leader.

Vlhova could not produce a second run like she had in Friday’s GS to contend for the win, crossing the finish with the fourth best combined time. It’s the first time this season Vlhova has not appeared on a World Cup slalom podium.

Shiffrin, with her biggest challenger out of the podium picture, started her event closing run by picking up time early and never relenting. Despite conditions being less than ideal, Shiffrin crossed the finish to win her third-consecutive slalom in Maribor. Swenn Larsson joined Shiffrin on the podium in second with Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener finishing third.    

Full results are here.

With two slalom events remaining on the World Cup calendar this season, Shiffrin can tie the all-time slalom win record for a man or woman, set by Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark.

The win is also Shiffrin’s 13th victory this season. The entirety of the women’s World Cup field has a combined win total of just 14.  

The women’s tour now turns its focus to the biggest event of the year, the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Are, Sweden. Shiffrin has said she plans to compete in Super-G, giant slalom and slalom and potentially the super combined. Racing kicks off with the women’s Super-G, where the U.S.’ Lindsey Vonn, who sent shockwaves through the Alpine world with her recent retirement announcement, is expected to compete. Vonn has also said she will race in the downhill.

This morning heavy snowfall in Garmisch-Partenkirchen forced the cancellation of the final men’s downhill before next week’s World Championships. The men’s giant slalom is still on the schedule for Sunday morning in GaPa, with the first run beginning at 4:30 a.m. ET and the second run at 7:30 a.m. ET. Watch the first run on OlympicChannel.com or with the NBC Sports Gold Snow Pass. Catch the second run live on TV or streaming with Olympic Channel or NBC Sports Gold.

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MORE: Lindsey Vonn to retire after World Championships

‘Snow Queen’ Lindsey Vonn returns to World Cup in Italy

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The wait was finally over for the U.S.’ Lindsey Vonn, who returned to World Cup competition today in Italy after being out of commission with a knee injury since November. Vonn crashed in training runs ahead of the third World Cup stop this season in Lake Louise, but lucky for the four-time Olympian, the injury did not require surgery.

Friday’s downhill race in Cortina d’Ampezzo replaced the cancelled St. Anton event from one week ago, when a snowstorm put Vonn’s World Cup season debut on hold. Vonn had her last taste of competition back in March 2018. Needless to say, the “Snow Queen” was amped to be back.

Wearing lucky bib #13, and now strapped with matching knee braces, Vonn charged out of the start gate. Despite being clocked at a screaming 75 mph as she attacked the gates, Vonn crossed the finish in seventh place, .79 hundredths of a second behind then-current leader, Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec, who jumped out to take the early lead in the one-run race.

After seeing the scoreboard at the bottom of the hill, Vonn gave a shrug as she caught her breath, then waved to the crowd.

Vonn ultimately slipped into a tie for 15th, with a time that was 1.15 seconds off the lead.

The seventeenth skier out of the gate, Austria’s 27-year-old Ramona Siebenhofer laid down the winning run of the day, stealing the lead away from Stuhec by .40 hundredths of a second. Finishing in third was Austria’s Stephanie Venier. Full results are here.

Vonn is chasing the all-time World Cup wins record — for a man or woman — held by Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark. Vonn currently has 82 to Stenmark’s 86, but has said she intends to retire at the end of this season. Vonn told the Associated Press last week she’ll be fine if she doesn’t get the record.

“The record won’t define me, whether I get it or not,” Vonn said according to the Associated Press. “I don’t need 87 wins to be able to continue the work of my foundation, to help kids, inspire people to be healthy and active and be positive and strive to reach their dreams and goals. I don’t need that record to accomplish those things. Once I retire, 87 won’t really matter anymore.

Vonn has appeared on a World Cup downhill podium in Cortina d’Ampezzo nine times in her career — five times as the winner. The last time Vonn won a downhill at the venue was in 2016. Last season Vonn won four downhill races and one Super-G. Two of those victories came in Germany at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, next week’s World Cup stop.

Vonn will be back tomorrow racing in the second downhill of the weekend. Watch the race live on Olympic Channel or stream it on NBC Sports Gold.

The men’s World Cup resumed in Wengen, Switzerland on Friday with the Alpine combined. After the opening slalom run, U.S. skier Ted Ligety was sitting in fourth position, 1.20 seconds behind the leader at the break, Austria’s Marco Schwarz. Ligety ended up crossing the line in 11th after finishing his downhill run, eventually getting bumped back to 14th.  

Finishing in 15th behind Ligety was the U.S.’ Bryce Bennett.

Schwarz held on to take the top podium spot, getting his first career World Cup Alpine combined victory. A pair of Frenchmen joined Schwarz on the podium, Victor Muffat-Jeandet and Alexis Pinturault. Full results are here.

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MORE: How to watch Lindsey Vonn in her season debut

Marcel Hirscher owns Adelboden, wins snowy slalom

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After winning the giant slalom on Saturday by going all-out in his second run, Austria’s Marcel Hirscher returned to the Swiss slopes to see if he could go 2-for-2 in 2019 in Adelboden.

With wet snow falling, Hirscher was able to once again lay down an aggressive second run, this time in the slalom, to pick up his 67th career World Cup victory.

After his first run, Hirscher was positioned in third behind Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen and his own countryman, Marco Schwarz.

Wearing bib #12, Schwarz produced a surge of speed at the bottom of his first run and overtook the lead by .34 hundredths of a second, good enough for the top spot heading into the break.

Despite unfavorable conditions, Hirscher turned in a masterful second run, crossing the finish line with a .50 hundredths of a second lead.

Kristoffersen was unable to match Hirscher’s pace in his second run. The Norwegian struggled to find a rhythm, and looked off balance at times, even putting his hands down on the snow to help him recover after scraping past a gate.

Schwarz also faltered in his second run, losing control and pulling up as the grandstand at the bottom of the course came into view.

Joining Hirscher on the podium was France’s Clement Noel in second, with his first podium finish of the season, and Kristoffersen who’s rough ride was good enough for third. Full results are here.

The men’s World Cup tour remains in the Swiss Alps this week as they travel to Wengen. On Friday, January 18 competition resumes with the Alpine combined, with the downhill scheduled for Saturday and the slalom for Sunday.

On the women’s tour, Lindsey Vonn is expected to make her return to the slopes for the U.S. as she attempts to close the gap between herself and all-time World Cup win list leader — for a man or woman — Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark. Stenmark holds the record with 86 career victories, with Vonn right behind him at 82. Look for Vonn to compete in the women’s downhill on Friday, January 18 in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

Watch World Cup Alpine skiing on Olympic Channel or stream it live on NBC Sports Gold.

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