Moltzan 13th to Lead Three U.S. Skiers into Points in Kranjska Gora Slalom; Shiffrin DNFs
Paula Moltzan led three U.S. skiers into the points in the FIS World Cup slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, finishing 13th. Mikaela Shiffrin did not finish—her first DNF in the discipline in four years.
Dealing with more tough conditions on the Podkoren slope, Petra Vlhova of Slovakia won the race with Wendy Holdener of Switzerland in second and Anna Swenn Larsson of Sweden in third. Vlhova has won all but one slalom in the 2021-22 season—which was won by Shiffrin at the HomeLight Killington Cup in Vermont.
Moltzan skied two solid runs of slalom to finish in the top 15 for the third time this season—an impressive feat given her massive crash in Saturday’s giant slalom, on top of a fractured wrist and skiing with her pole duct-taped to her hand. “It was a very challenging day,” she said. “Conditions were less than ideal for first run, but second run was a little bit smoother. Happy to find the finish line after a huge crash yesterday, especially when I didn’t know if I would be able to race today going to bed. Also very happy to see two teammates grab some slalom points!”
Nina O’Brien and Katie Hensien also finished in the points, taking 25th and 28th. It was both O’Brien and Hensien’s best slalom finishes of the season.
Shiffrin was only .25 seconds off the pace after the first run, despite a couple of mistakes in the top section, putting her in striking distance to the win. She attacked on her second run, skiing aggressively and cleanly with splits that might have landed her on top, but straddled a gate about 15 gates to the finish. Former teammate and Olympic champion Ted Ligety said on the NBC broadcast, "This was some of the best skiing I've seen out of her. It's the best skiing I've seen out of her so far this year, she should get the video of this run and watch it...and then press control alt delete on that hairpin and just think about the skiing and just some confidence out of that and not worry about that, because slalom is a game of hundredths...so she should just think about the great skiing before that."
It was her first DNF in a race since 2018, when she skied out at the final slalom World Cup before the PyeongChang Olympics in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. To put this rarity even more into perspective, of Shiffrin's 207 World Cup starts across six disciplines, 115 are podiums (55%), 72 of them are victories (35%), and a mere 15 (7.25%) are DNFs. It is so rare that in the last 100 starts, she's had just five DNFs.
"I’ll be honest, I’m not feeling great about it," Shiffrin shared following the race. "Straddling is just…it’s twisting the knife when it’s stuck in your heart, except you’re the one who stuck it in and you’re also the one doing the twisting." She added, "Yes, it happens, but it shouldn’t. It’s a very slight silver lining that my skiing up to that point felt very good, but that doesn’t take away any of the frustration, especially after a challenging day yesterday too. But it happened and I can’t change it, I can just try harder next time. Congratulations to all of the women who did their job all the way to the finish today, especially my teammates, Paula, Nina, and Katie."
The race was littered with DNFs from top racers, including Michelle Gisin of Switzerland and Katharina Liensberger of Austria. Racers criticized the Kranjska Gora course preparation, which was given the race after the Maribor World Cup was canceled due to lack of snow.
Rounding out the U.S. athletes, Allie Resnick did not finish first run and Zoe Zimmerman did not qualify for second run. Each of these up-and-comers showed promise for the future.
Vlhova continues to lead the slalom standings with 580 points to Shiffrin’s 340 points, but Shiffrin maintains a slight lead over Vlhova in the overall standings by 35 points.
Next up, the women head to Schladming, Austria—a race moved from Flachau, Austria due to rising COVID cases—where they will race the last slalom before the Olympics Winter Games Beijing 2022.
HOW TO WATCH
*All times EST.
Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022
12:00 pm - FIS Alpine World Cup Women's Slalom, run 1 - LIVE, Schladming, AUT, Streaming Peacock
2:45 pm - FIS Alpine World Cup Women's Slalom, run 2 – LIVE, Schladming, AUT, Streaming Peacock