With Mikaela Shiffrin working her way back onto the World Cup circuit after 10 months away, Petra Vlhova has kept their joined winning streak in slaloms going once again on Sunday.
While Shiffrin placed fifth, Vlhova held off a challenge from Michelle Gisin to clinch her second win in two days, and fifth straight in the discipline.
All 28 World Cup slaloms since January 2017 have been won by either Shiffrin, with 19 wins, or Vlhova, who has won all the races in the discipline in 2020.
“It was really difficult for me because I was a little bit under pressure, because yesterday I won and today I wanted to confirm,” Vlhova said following her 16th career win.
Following her back-to-back wins, Vlhova went top of the overall standings with 260 points, well ahead of Gisin with 175 and Shiffrin with 125.
“Today I leave Levi with big confidence,” Vlhova said. “I feel that this year, I have a lot of power, a lot of confidence. For the next races I will try to do the same but it is not easy to take the victory.”
WATCH | Petra Vlhova wins 2nd World Cup slalom in as many days:
Vlhova and Gisin shared the lead after the opening run, but the World Cup discipline champion from Slovakia beat her Swiss opponent by 0.31 seconds in the final leg.
Katharina Liensberger of Austria was half a second behind in third.
Pair of top-10 efforts to begin season
Battling foggy and dark conditions, Canada’s Laurence St-Germain and Erin Mielzynski placed eighth and 13th, respectively.
“I was a little nervous for today since [I finished a career-best sixth on Saturday] but I’m happy how I handled it,” St-Germain, who was 1.22 seconds behind Vlhova, told Alpine Canada. “I felt ready to attack and I’m really happy with two top 10s to start the season.”
Mielzynski trained for this solid start to the season through the summer in Europe and remote areas of Ontario.
“It’s cool to see how strong our team is right now,” she said. “We train mostly alone but we’re able to push each other and we all made huge improvements in the summer. “I think we can walk away from Levi and know that we did our job.”
Toronto’s Ali Nullmeyer, who did not finish her first run Saturday, finished in 28th while Roni Remme of Collingwood, Ont., didn’t finish her first run and Amelia Smart of Invermere, B.C.,failed to qualify for a second run.
In her second race after a 10-month break, and a day after coming runner-up to Vlhova, Shiffrin missed the podium in a slalom race for the first time in nearly three years.
WATCH | Petra Vlhova takes World Cup slalom opener:
She had been in the top three of every slalom she competed in since failing to finish an event in Switzerland in January 2018.
On a course set by her coach Mike Day, Shiffrin struggled in the opening metres of her first run and trailed by nearly four tenths at the first split.
However, the American three-time overall champion matched the leaders’ pace for the remainder of her run and finished 0.37 seconds behind Vlhova and Gisin.
Shiffrin lost more than half a second on Vlhova in her final run and trailed by 0.93 at the end.
‘Feeling a bit lethargic’
The U.S. ski team said Shiffrin was “feeling a bit lethargic” and “still trying to figure out how to manage her energy levels,” a day after her comeback to racing after 300 days away.
Coming into the weekend, the American had not raced since the death of her father, Jeff Shiffrin, in early February. The coronavirus outbreak and a back injury prevented her from an earlier return to the circuit.
While Shiffrin hasn’t won a slalom since triumphing in Lienz in December, Vlhova stepped in to keep their streak going — all 28 World Cup slaloms since January 2017 have been won by either Shiffrin, with 19 wins, or Vlhova, who has won all the races in the discipline in 2020.
Gisin, who is the Olympic champion in the combined event, has yet to win a World Cup race, but placing second Sunday was her best career result in slalom.
Gisin’s Swiss teammate, Wendy Holdener, was 0.79 behind in fourth.
Federica Brignone, the overall World Cup champion from Italy, was more than three seconds off the lead and finished 24th.
A limited number of spectators were allowed at the race.
The women’s World Cup continues with a parallel event in Austria on Thursday.