Flachau

Mikaela Shiffrin edged again by Petra Vlhova in Flachau slalom

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Mikaela Shiffrin was beaten in back-to-back World Cup slaloms for the first time since 2017, relegated by Slovakian Petra Vlhova for a second straight time in Flachau, Austria, on Tuesday.

Vlhova, the giant slalom world champion, distanced third-place Shiffrin by .43 of a second combining times from two runs under the lights. Vlhova led by six tenths over Shiffrin after the first run.

Swede Anna Swenn-Larsson passed Shiffrin in the second run to finish runner-up, one tenth behind Vlhova. Shiffrin’s streak of 15 straight slaloms finishing first or second ends. Full results are here.

“I am happy to be on the podium again. I am disappointed with my skiing. But that’s ski racing,” Shiffrin said, according to The Associated Press. “Her [Vlhova’s] skiing is the best.”

It came 10 days after Vlhova beat Shiffrin by 1.31 seconds in a slalom in Zagreb, Croatia, marking the largest margin of victory by anyone over Shiffrin in a slalom since 2014 (excluding Shiffrin DNFs).

“The way I’ve been on top with my skiing for all these years is because I did more work, harder work and stronger work than everyone else,” Shiffrin said, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “I worked smarter. I could come to the races and I had to push, I knew that, but I worked hard enough that confidence wasn’t a factor. I could ski even when I wasn’t confident, and my good skiing would be enough. Right now, it’s difficult to balance everything — to balance what I want to accomplish in the sport with everything and still be able to stay on top going against girls who are working really hard.”

Vlhova previously handed Shiffrin back-to-back slalom defeats in the last race of the 2016-17 season and the first race of the 2017-18 season. After that, Shiffrin reeled off wins in 18 of 20 traditional World Cup slaloms before Vlhova’s latest repeat victories.

The last time Shiffrin lost consecutive slaloms in one season was late 2014, soon after which her coach of four years, Roland Pfeifer, was reassigned. The last time she finished a slalom and was outside the top two was in Flachau three years ago.

Vlhova, who is 24 and three months younger than Shiffrin, has been the American’s only slalom rival the last few years. The duo combined to win the last 25 World Cup slaloms (19 for Shiffrin, six for Vlhova). Vlhova’s staff has been known to film Shiffrin’s training sessions.

“I know that she is angry because she wants to always win,” Vlhova said of Shiffrin, who hugged the Slovakian in congratulations immediately after Tuesday’s race and at the trophy presentation. “It’s good to have Miki close to me because she push me to more than maybe I have inside. I think it’s very important for skiing, for our sport, to have to girls like this.

“I want to have a friend relationship with her, but we can’t because we are on the top, and everybody wants to win.”

Shiffrin’s mom and longtime coach said in 2017 that the four-inches-taller Vlhova “skis like Mikaela more than Mikaela skis like Mikaela,” according to the Denver Post.

In Tuesday’s post-race press conference, Shiffrin first wanted to be clear that her coach Mike Day, who set the second-run course, did not align the gates to try and slow down Vlhova.

“Maybe the most important thing I wanted to say tonight is we don’t do that,” she said. “We don’t play those games. I think it’s bad karma. It’s a testament to Petra’s skiing that you can’t set a course against her right now because her skiing is the best.”

Shiffrin remains tied with Lindsey Vonn for the most World Cup wins in one discipline for a woman. Shiffrin has 43 slaloms, and the retired Vonn took 43 downhills.

The next World Cup slalom is Feb. 16 in Maribor, Slovenia. There are four World Cup slaloms left this season. Shiffrin leads the slalom season standings by 80 points, eyeing her seventh crystal globe for the discipline. If Vlhova wins the last four slaloms, with Shiffrin finishing second each time, Vlhova would take the title in a tiebreaker.

The women’s World Cup moves to Sestriere, Italy, for a giant slalom and parallel giant slalom on Saturday (8:05 a.m. ET) and Sunday (5:45 a.m.) on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streaming on NBC Sports Gold.

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Watch Mikaela Shiffrin race live on Tuesday afternoon, chasing Lindsey Vonn record

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Mikaela Shiffrin makes a rare appearance during the workday on Tuesday, looking to break a record she shares with Lindsey Vonn, live on NBC Sports Gold.

The world’s top female skier headlines a World Cup slalom in Flachau, Austria. Shiffrin owns four wins this season, upping her career total to 64, including 43 in traditional slaloms.

Shiffrin and the retired Vonn are tied for the female record of 43 victories in one discipline. Vonn won 43 downhills among her female-record 82 total World Cup wins.

LIVE STREAM: Flachau slalom run 1 — 12 p.m. ET
LIVE STREAM: Flachau slalom run 2 — 2:45 p.m. ET
*For NBC Sports Gold “Snow Pass” subscribers

Shiffrin goes into Flachau leading the World Cup overall standings by a comfortable 261 points, despite skiing out of Sunday’s combined in Zauchensee, her first DNF in nearly two years. She’s in line to become the second woman to win four straight overall titles (Austrian Annemarie Moser-Pröll in the 1970s).

Shiffrin was beaten in the last slalom by Slovakian rival Petra Vlhova, who routed the American by 1.31 seconds in Zagreb on Jan. 4. Shiffrin had won the previous six World Cup slaloms.

Shiffrin and Vlhova combined to win the last 24 World Cup slaloms, with Shiffrin taking 19 of them. But Vlhova’s win in Zagreb was particularly notable for the margin of victory, the largest for anybody over Shiffrin in a slalom since November 2014 (excluding DNFs).

“It’s a good duel with us,” Shiffrin said Sunday, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “She feels the pressure from me, and I feel the pressure from her, too — and that’s exciting for people to watch.”

After Flachau, Shiffrin and Vlhova will take their rivalry to Sestriere, Italy, for a giant slalom and a parallel event on Saturday and Sunday.

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Mikaela Shiffrin wins 5th straight World Cup, longest streak in 20 years

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More history for Mikaela Shiffrin, one of the world’s most dominant athletes in any sport.

She became the first Alpine skier to win five straight World Cup races in 20 years on Tuesday, coming from behind at a night slalom in Flachau, Austria.

Shiffrin won for the eighth time in nine races overall, prevailing by .94 of a second combining times from two runs over Austrian Bernadette Schild.

Schild led Shiffrin by .37 after the first run, when Shiffrin said her timing was off. Shiffrin’s coach, Mike Day, set the course for the second run.

“This was the first time [this season] that I was coming from behind in the first run, and I had to make a statement,” she said, according to The Associated Press. “That was really important for me, a really big checkmark on the way to the Olympics because when we are there, anything can happen, and I want to be mentally prepared for all those possibilities.”

Two of Shiffrin’s closest slalom rivals — Slovak Petra Vlhova and Swiss Wendy Holdener — skied out in the first run.

Full results are here.

Shiffrin became the first man or woman to win five straight World Cup races since German Katja Seizinger in 1997.

She also tied Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell‘s record for most World Cup wins before turning 23, grabbing her 41st career victory and 10th this season.

Lindsey Vonn, the female record holder with 78 victories, had seven at this age.

Shiffrin is favored to win three gold medals in PyeongChang (slalom, giant slalom, super combined), which would match the record for an Alpine skier at one Olympics.

All of Shiffrin’s eight wins in this nine-race span have been in slalom (or some variation) and giant slalom.

The Coloradoan grabbed gold in Sochi as the youngest Olympic slalom champion ever. She since matured into the world’s best all-around skier, taking last year’s World Cup overall title and running away in this year’s standings.

The women’s World Cup continues with a downhill and super-G in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria, on Saturday and Sunday, live on Olympic Channel.

Vonn will headline those races, which Shiffrin is expected to skip.

Shiffrin picks and chooses speed events where she feels comfortable. She is expected to race the following weekend’s downhill and super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

Also Tuesday, Resi Stiegler became the third U.S. female Alpine skier to qualify for PyeongChang, joining Shiffrin and Megan McJames.

Stiegler, 32, has a best finish of 11th from two previous Olympics.

She has a best finish this season of 14th and last made a World Cup podium in 2012, but qualified for the Olympics as the second-best U.S. slalom skier behind Shiffrin this season.

Vonn and other speed racers can qualify the next two weekends.

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