Americans Struggle in Kranjska Gora; Shiffrin Maintains Overall Lead
It was a tough day for the Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, with no Americans qualifying for the second run in Sunday's slalom. However, despite missing the last five FIS Ski World Cup races, Mikaela Shiffrin maintained her lead in the overall standings.
Paula Moltzan, who has been skiing fast in training, straddled, while Nina O'Brien was skiing solid on the top of the first run, but "made a mistake and couldn't get her rhythm back," explained coach Magnus Andersson. Nina did not qualify for a second run.
Swede Anna Swenn Larsson had everyone amped, having had the fastest first run. After the first run, Slovakia's Petra Vlhova was sitting in fourth, .92 seconds back. However, Petra stepped on the gas second run, moving ahead of both Switzerland's Wendy Holdener (who ended up second) and Norway's Nina Haver-Loeseth (who moved back to fourth). All eyes on the Swede, Anna, as she made a valiant effort to win her first World Cup. Gaining time all the way down, Anna had a massive 1.17 second lead on Petra before a heartbreaking fall right before the finish line.
Petra won by .24, with Wendy Holdener in second, .24 seconds back, and Austria's Katharina Truppe in third, .89 seconds off Petra's pace. This is Petra's third-straight slalom victory—a victory that extended the three-year winning streak of Mikaela and Petra in the discipline. Mikaela and her rival Petra have won the last 26 slaloms, with Mikaela winning 19 to Petra's seven.
Mikaela's absence was not only felt by fellow competitors and the media but also fans. Slovakian fans paid a classy tribute to Mikaela, holding up a big sign with a Slovakian and American flag that read, "We miss you, Mikaela!" Though the rivalry on the hill is strong, Mikaela and Petra have displayed incredible sportsmanship both on and off the mountain, and Mikaela is adored by Slovakian fans.
Despite sitting the last five races out (one downhill, two super-Gs, a giant slalom, and a slalom), Mikaela continues to hold the lead in the overall standings, by 113 points over Italy’s Federica Brignone (who was in 25th after the first run, but DNFed second run of Sunday's slalom) and 154 points ahead of Petra Vlhova. In the slalom standings, Petra has now surpassed Mikaela by 20 points, with 460 points, followed by Mikaela with 440.
The races in Kranjska Gora were a replacement for the previously scheduled "Golden Fox Trophy" races in Maribor, Slovenia, but warm temperatures forced the change in venues.
Up next for the women is a speed series in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, with two downhills—including a make-up downhill from Rosa Khutor, Russia—and an alpine combined (featuring one run of super-G and one run of slalom). The next tech series in Ofterschwang, Germany March 7-8. At this point, the current overall leader Mikaela's return to Europe and return to competition is unknown.
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
Sunday, Feb. 16
7:00 p.m. - Women’s slalom, Kranjska Gora, SLO - NBCSN*
Note: All televised events to stream across NBCSports.com, NBC Sports app, OlympicChannel.com, and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA app.
Exclusive commercial-free coverage will be available for subscribers of the NBC Sports Gold Pass, available here: https://www.nbcsports.com/gold/snow.