Slovakian skier Vlhova leads Shiffrin in 1st run of World Cup slalom

LEVI, Finland — Slovakian skier Petra Vlhova built a big lead in the first run of a women’s World Cup slalom Sunday, a day after winning a race on the same hill by a huge margin.

Vlhova led second-placed Mikaela Shiffrin by 0.76 seconds as the pair looked set to continue their dominance in the event. No other skier has won the traditional season-opening slalom in Finnish Lapland since 2016.

“I felt good, I did perfect in the steep part compared to yesterday first run,” said Vlhova, who is the Olympic champion and has 20 World Cup wins in slalom.

Sara Hector of Sweden was 0.84 behind in third, followed by Lena Duerr one-tenth further behind in fourth. The German skier finished runner-up and trailed Vlhova by 1.41 seconds in Saturday’s race.

On Sunday, Vlhova clocked the fastest times in the first three sections, but Shiffrin had the strongest finish on the flat final part of the Black Levi course.

“I felt really quite good, smooth, I felt kind of my timing was a bit better than yesterday even,” said Shiffrin, who raced with a bone bruise in her left knee following a training crash last week.

The American had to reduce her time on snow in the buildup to this weekend’s races and finished Saturday’s race in fourth.

“I’d like to kind of add more aggression or power in my turns, but I think it’s step by step, a little bit,” said Shiffrin, who triumphed in both races in Levi a year ago.

The American won 14 races last season to raise her career tally to a record 88 and added her fifth overall title.

Shiffrin started the new campaign with a sixth place in a giant slalom in Austria two weeks ago. Only once in her career has she failed to get a podium result in any of her first three World Cup races – in 2011-12, her debut season on the circuit.

The second leg is scheduled for later Sunday.


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