Mikaela Shiffrin completed a hat-trick of Killington Cup slalom wins on Sunday to delight a passionate home crowd in Vermont. Having just missed out on the podium in Saturday’s giant slalom, Shiffrin responded magnificently with a near-flawless second run to secure victory by over half a second from Petra Vlhova of Slovakia. Killington in Vermont has adopted Shiffrin as one of its own, the 23-year-old superstar having trained for the top at the local Burke Mountain Academy.
“I could hear the crowd the whole second run, from the start to the finish,” explained Shiffrin, who’s captured two straight overall World Cup titles. “Sometimes they were getting loud and sometimes quieter. I thought: ‘Uh, oh, I’m not fast enough. I have to push harder!’ I was trying to really push the whole way down the course. The crowd takes me down the mountain and they did today.”
Shiffrin, 23 from Colorado, made a small mistake halfway through her final run, meaning only one thing – charge even harder. Despite less than ideal conditions—a mix of heavy mist, fog and rain which made for soft snow and low visibility on the course, she finished in a combined time of 1 minute, 43.25 seconds to edge Petra Vlhova of Slovakia by 0.57 seconds. Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter finished third.
This was World Cup slalom win No. 34 for Shiffrin, tying her with Vreni Schneider for second among women in the discipline. The record of 35 is held by Austria’s Marlies Schild, one of Shiffrin’s childhood favorites. Shiffrin still watches videos of the way Schild attacks a course.
“I don’t care if I beat her record,” she modestly told reporters. “I still feel she is the greatest slalom skier of this generation.”
Next up for the women’s circuit will be speed races in Lake Louise, Alberta. Lindsey Vonn had been scheduled to make her season debut, but she hurt her knee in a training run and will skip the races. Vonn has 82 World Cup victories, leaving her five away from breaking the record held by Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden. In the absence on Vonn, Shiffrin carries US hopes but admits to being a “little short of practice” in the downhill and super-G disciplines.
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Meanwhile, the men’s World Cup downhill season started Saturday in Lake Louise and there was a victory for Austria’s Max Franz in Canada. In bright sunshine, he held off the challenge of Italian pair Christof Innerhofer and Dominik Paris for the second World Cup win of his career after Val Gardena in 2016.
Sunday’s super-G at the same Calgary venue went to 2014 Olympic champion Kjetil Jansrud of Norway, who is defending the World Cup title in the discipline. Vincent Kreichmayr of Austria finished second with Swiss Mauro Caviezel in third.