Colorado’s Mikaela Shiffrin has set the bar very high on the Audi FIS World Cup alpine ski circuit. Midway through the 2019-20 racing season, the three-time World Cup women’s overall champion is finding some worthy adversaries.
Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, 24, stands tall, at 5-11, among the contenders.
On a chilly Tuesday night before 14,800 spectators at Flachau, Aust., the 24-year-old Shiffrin captured her 16th straight World Cup slalom podium—a World Cup record—finishing in third place of 73 skiers.
But Vlhova put down a 53.32-second opening run on the 70-gate Hermann Maier Weltcupstrecke course, which was 0.60 seconds faster than her pursuer Shiffrin, and Vlhova held on for a 0.10-second win over second-run winner Anna Swenn Larsson, 28, of Sweden.
It was Vlhova’s 12th World Cup victory and second consecutive slalom win, 10 days after her monstrous 1.31-second win over runner-up Shiffrin at Zagreb, Croatia Jan. 4.
The Slovakian star captured the title of Snow Space Salzburg Princess and the biggest prize purse on the FIS World Cup women’s tour—70,000 euros or $78,034.
It was Vlhova’s second win in Flachau—having beaten Mikaela in last year’s night race, as well.
“When you look at Petra, she’s skiing just perfect right now,” Shiffrin said afterward to writer Courtney Harkins of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.
Shiffrin added about her rival, “Even if she makes some mistakes, her mistakes are smaller than everyone else and her better turns are better than everyone else. That includes me.”
Shiffrin increased her season prize winnings to $296,233. Surging, Vlhova has increased her prize winnings by over $125,000 the last two weeks and currently stands second with $231,646. In third place is Federica Brignone of Italy, $157,062.
Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team athletes Paula Moltzan and Nina O’Brien snagged points in the race, as well, taking 23rd and 29th, respectively.
Shiffrin’s third-place finish in Flachau kept her strongly in first place in the overall hunt over Vlhova with 886 points to Petra’s 613. She also leads the slalom hunt over Petra by 80 points, 440-360.
There are still four slaloms remaining on the World Cup tour.
America’s women’s tech crew is traveling together to Sestriere, Italy for a giant slalom on Saturday, Jan. 18 and a parallel giant slalom Sunday, Jan. 19. Last year’s World Cup GS winner Shiffrin is currently in second place in the giant slalom standings, 275-254 behind Brignone.