SOLDEU, Andorra — Seven weeks after earning it, Mikaela Shiffrin was finally able to hold and kiss the crystal globe as the best slalom skier of the Women’s World Cup season.
The dominating American had already won the title in the discipline in a mid-season slalom in the Czech Republic in January, but the trophies in ski racing are traditionally not handed out until the last week of the season.
Slovakian rival Petra Vlhova enjoyed a frenetic finish in her decisive run on Saturday to win the World Cup final slalom ahead of Croatian prodigy Leona Popovic, while Shiffrin placed third.
“It’s the sum of a lot of hard work and a lot of amazing races and the work of the whole team,” Shiffrin said. “I am very grateful and very proud.”
Shiffrin, who also earned her fifth overall globe and her second giant slalom globe, won six of 11 slaloms this season, making her the first woman to win seven slalom titles this season, overtaking Swiss star Vreni Schneider, who won it six times in the 1980s and 90s.
It will be after Shiffrin’s 14th win of the season and 88th overall in Sunday’s giant slalom, the final race of the season, a week after setting the record for most career wins with 87 in a slalom in Sweden.
“Since Are, I’ve felt a little freer,” Shiffrin said. “And even then, I still feel the nerves and the pressure, like I want to win as much as before. I still have the same motivation, which is the most exciting thing.
In a close finish to Saturday’s race, Vlhova edged then-leading Popovic by eight hundredths of a second in the final split, but gained time through the gates of the final flat section and finished 0 .43 seconds ahead of the Croatian, who won her first career. podium.
Shiffrin edged Vlhova by 0.83 for her 17th podium finish in 30 starts this season.
Vlhova won the season title in slalom last year and won her second race of the current campaign after triumphing in a nighttime event in Austria in January.
“It’s (emotional) because my season has been so eventful,” Vlhova said. “I wanted to come here and show my skiing in the last races and have a good feeling for next season.”
After the first run, Vlhova was ahead of Popovic by 0.32 seconds. Sweden’s Anna Swenn Larsson, third, straddled a gate on her final run.
Shiffrin was 0.59 behind in fourth. The American led the opening run until the final split but lost three-quarters of a second after making a mistake entering the flat finish area.
Canadian skier Laurence St-Germain, who beat Shiffrin to the world slalom title last month, was 10th after the opening run but became one of six skiers who did not finish the second run, which was affected by rain and wet snow in the form of dark clouds. moved on the course.
“It was complicated with the snow coming. There’s so much weather today,” Shiffrin said. “It was really fun to race, it’s a difficult track and it’s quite interesting to finish the season with it. Because for me it gives a lot of information about things we can work on during the summer and how to prepare for next season. So that kind of leaves some motivation.
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