Shiffrin giant slalom bid goes to the wire as Vlhova wins again
?pindleruv Mlýn (Czech Republic) (AFP)
Mikaela Shiffrin's bid to win the giant slalom World Cup title will be decided at the final race of the season after Slovakia's Petra Vlhova closed the gap on her in the standings by winning here on Friday.
The race at Andorra next weekend will now make a thrilling climax for an epic season-long struggle between Shiffrin and Vlhova, who is second in the overall standings too.
Vlhova was fastest down the first run in the morning with Shiffrin, fourth in the early run, producing a sensational second to set up a tight finale.
The Slovak overcame an early blip to win the race with a combined time of 2min 24.69sec, just 0.11sec ahead of Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg in second with Shiffrin, the American overall world cup winner, third at 0.60sec.
Shiffrin still tops the giant slalom season standings with 515pts, but Vlhova's tally of 418 means she can technically overtake her and win the title by a mere three points should the younger woman finish outside the top 15 and the Slovak win the race at Andorra.
Despite an early mistake in her first run, Vlhova, the world champion in the discipline, built up a sizeable advantage in the early run with the 2010 Olympic champion Rebensburg second after both runs.
Shiffrin clinched her third straight World Cup title when the super-G at Sochi was cancelled last weekend due to heavy snow leaving her with an unassailable lead in the overall standings.
Having already picked up the slalom title, she is in pole position to win the small globe in the giant slalom and is also top of the super-G standings.
With five races remaining she has already equalled Vreni Schneider's record of 14 World Cup victories in a season the Swiss skier set in 1988-89.
Shiffrin has 1,854 total World Cup points this season. The record, under modern scoring, is 2,414 set by Slovak Tina Maze in 2013.
© 2019 AFP