Mikaela Shiffrin won her 41st World Cup slalom, breaking a tie with Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark for the career record, Saturday in Levi, Finland.
Rival Petra Vlhova had the lead after the first run but crashed out early in her second, providing an anticlimactic finish to the showdown between the top two slalom skiers in the world.
“I felt a little bit lucky with this win, but I also felt good with my skiing, so I’m happy,” Shiffrin said.
Shiffrin, who finished second in the season-opening giant slalom last month, also took the lead in her campaign for a fourth straight overall World Cup.
Vlhova was the only skier to beat Shiffrin in a slalom last season. The 24-year-old Slovakian, three months younger than Shiffrin, has steadily climbed up the World Cup standings each year and was second to Shiffrin in the slalom, giant slalom and overall last year.
With Vlhova’s crash, Shiffrin won by a comfortable margin of 1.78 seconds over Wendy Holdener. The Swiss skier, third in last year’s slalom and overall standings and second in each ranking the year before, was sixth in the first run but had a torrid second run. Holdener still has never won a World Cup slalom.
Austria’s Katharina Truppe finished third to reach the podium for the first time in her career.
Shiffrin now has momentum as the series heads to Killington, Vt., virtually her hometown race. Thanks to the unique awards in Levi, she also has a fourth reindeer, who showed a bit of feistiness in the award ceremony. She has not yet thought of a name for the animal who will join Rudolph, Sven and Mr. Gru in her herd.
While Shiffrin has become a threat in all events, winning her first giant slalom and super-G World Cup titles last season, the slalom has always been her go-to race. After her debut World Cup season in 2011-12, she has won six of the last seven World Cup slalom season titles and four straight world championships.
Under dark and foggy conditions in Levi, Shiffrin drew the first starting spot for the first run and finished in 58.78. The other contenders and top finishers also started early. Truppe, skiing fifth, finished in 59.64. Next up was Sweden’s Anna Swenn Larsson, the runner-up in last year’s world championships, who finished in 59.96. Vlhova was next, finishing in 58.65 for a lead of 0.13 seconds over Shiffrin. No other skier finished in less than one minute.
New Zealand teen Alice Robinson, who beat Shiffrin in the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, is out of action until December with a bone bruise.
The men’s slalom from Levi will stream live on NBC Sports Gold at 4:15 and 7 a.m. ET Sunday. The Olympic Channel will broadcast the second run. The men’s and women’s World Cup circuits will diverge next week, with the men going to Lake Louise, Alberta, for speed events.
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