With a powerful second run Saturday, three-time Audi World Cup overall champion Mikaela Shiffrin won the first World Cup slalom of the 2019-20 season at Levi, Finland.
The American gate racing ace from Colorado recorded her 41st World Cup slalom victory and moved past Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark, who had 40, to become the all-time winningest World Cup slalom racer.
Second to her rival Petra Vlhova of Slovakia after the first run on the 65-gate Levi Black course, the 23-year-old Shiffrin unleashed a second run no one could match.
Her 58.79-second time, 0.36 seconds faster than Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener, gave Shiffrin (1:57.57) a 1.78-second triumph over Holdener (1:59.35). Vlhova didn’t finish the second run. There were 73 starters.
Shiffrin posted her 61st career World Cup triumph. She won eight of the nine World Cup slaloms during her record-setting run of 17 individual Cup wins last winter.
Afterwards, she told Tom Horrocks of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association that she wasn’t thinking about setting a new record, saying, “I wasn’t thinking about that at all today. I was just trying to push it.
“I was thinking of the second run as it was a different race. It doesn’t really help if I say ‘I have to make up 14 hundredths, or I have to do this or that.’ I just had to go for it! Ski fast and ski well, and that’s what I was thinking about in the second run. Not thinking about Petra...or Wendy and just go for it and see what happens.
“I feel a little bit lucky with this win because Petra skied out, but I also feel good with my skiing, so I’m happy today. Petra is skiing really well. I was super impressed with her strength physically, but mentally too. That was tough, but she’ll be back.”
Shiffrin’s Land Rover U.S. Ski Team teammate Paula Moltzan picked up her first World Cup points of the season, finishing 20th after an acrobatic first run. Nina O’Brien finished 60th in the first run.
The women travel to Vermont for next week’s HomeLight Killington Cup with giant slalom and slalom events.
Shiffrin said, “The season has started in both GS and slalom, and I feel good with both events, so now we’re rolling and it’s a nice place to be. I’m on track. I know what I have to do. So this is like a dry run for the rest of the season and Killington, and now I can just go back (to Killington) and enjoy that.”