Vlhova slaloms to Zagreb victory, Shiffrin fourth

Zagreb (AFP) –


Slovakia's Petra Vlhova consolidated her lead atop the overall World Cup standings with victory in the slalom in Zagreb on Sunday, her 11th discipline win on the alpine skiing circuit.

Vlhova timed 1min 59.08sec over the two runs to finish 0.05sec ahead of Austrian Katharina Liensberger, with Switzerland's Michelle Gisin in third place (+0.22sec).

Three-time overall World Cup champion Mikaela Shiffrin, a winner of 67 World Cup races, came in fourth spot, a further 0.05sec adrift.

Vlhova had herself finished a disappointing fourth in the Semering slalom on Tuesday, but she rebounded to claim the "Snow Queen" title traditionally given to winners in Zagreb.

The first run, in warm, wet conditions, proved a challenge for the entire field.

The top racers all finished within striking distance with Vlhova holding a 0.32sec advantage over Liensberger, while Gisin sat in third place only 0.38sec back, just ahead of American Shiffrin.

The second run did nothing to change the final results as Vlhova, Liensberger and Gisin all went 1-2-3, with Shiffrin landing just short of the podium.

"It was a really hard day for me today," Vlhova said.

"I had to find my confidence again and the entire day was a fight, especially the second run. I thought I was out of the podium picture, but I kept fighting through the finish.

"When I saw I was only the 11th fastest in the second run, I thought I was for sure out of the podium, but then the green light showed up and I couldn't believe it."

The win was Vlhova's fourth in the slalom this season, alongside two third-place finishes in the giant slalom.

That combination is enough to give the Slovakian a 128-point lead over Gisin in the overall World Cup standings.

Shiffrin, however, finished without victory in a slalom for the sixth consecutive time, the first time that has occurred since she won her first, back in 2012.

"Things are going in a good direction," Shiffrin insisted in reference to the fact it was only her sixth race back on the circuit after an extended break following the death of her father.

"But it takes time and I always said that from the beginning: It's not easy to win. Especially if you don't have momentum, then it's even harder. It's always really hard work — hard mentally and I know that. I'm trying not to expect too much."

Shiffrin, who had previously won on four occasions in Zagreb, added: "I want to be there — on the podium and in the first spot. But it's also greedy or arrogant to think I can just do it."