Mikaela Shiffrin and Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova have the sort of rivalry that only two athletes at the top of their sports can have, pressuring one another to go a little faster and keep pushing.
Going into Tuesday’s night race in Flachau, Austria, the last 24 women’s world cup slalom races were won by either Shiffrin (19) or Vlhova (5), a streak dating back to January 2017.
That number is now at 25, though with a twist.
Vlhova, who snapped Shiffrin’s world cup slalom win streak at six just after New Year’s, again took first place, but this time Shiffrin slipped from second after the first run to third.
For someone who has dominated the slalom events for the past several years, Shiffrin’s result Tuesday was notable in a handful of ways. It marked the first time in over two years that she was not first in back-to-back slalom races. It also marked her lowest finish in a slalom race since finishing fourth at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, and her worst slalom finish on the world cup since January 10, 2017, when she also finished third in Flachau. (She also recorded a DNF in slalom in January 2018.)
Shiffrin was six-tenths of a second back from Vlhova after the first run on Tuesday and sat in second place. Sweden’s Anna Swenn Larsson turned in the fastest time on the second run, however, and that was enough to propel her past Shiffrin. Vlhova took the win in 1:53.65, followed by Larsson just .10 seconds back and Shiffrin finished in 1:54.08.
Shiffrin had an uncharacteristic DNF in Sunday’s alpine combined, her first in nearly two years. Competing in the super-G portion of the race, she caught an edge, went into a big turn off-balance and couldn’t recover but skied away from the crash unscathed. She did not to race in the previous day’s downhill in order to focus on training for this race along with next weekend’s giant slalom and parallel giant slalom.
Even with Tuesday’s results, Shiffrin still maintains commanding leads in both the overall and slalom standings, leading Vlhova by 273 in overall and 80 in slalom.
She also has won an all-time record 43 world cup slalom events. Only Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark has more in a single event, recording 46 wins in giant slalom.