Record on hold as ill Shiffrin finishes 2nd in night slalom
FLACHAU, Austria (AP) — Mikaela Shiffrin will have to wait a bit longer to celebrate a record-breaking win No. 83 on the women’s World Cup circuit.
Her biggest rival and an illness spoiled Shiffrin’s hopes of a big party at a floodlit night slalom Tuesday as the American standout skier finished second behind Olympic champion Petra Vlhova after feeling ill during the race and throwing up afterward.
“I don’t feel very well, but that is not surprising at the end of a long stretch of races. And no matter what, Petra skied amazing tonight and she deserves the victory,” Shiffrin told Austrian TV before feeling even worse and going into a tent adjacent to the finish area to vomit.
She then did not speak to other reporters.
“Ideally, there is not a story about how I’m feeling. I earned the second place and she earned the victory tonight, and that was quite an amazing show,” Shiffrin said in the brief TV interview. “It was a little bit difficult this evening to perform top-top, but even then, I felt some turns that I loved to feel.”
Shiffrin matched Lindsey Vonn’s women’s record of 82 race victories by winning a giant slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, on Sunday, but wasn’t able to produce another win in her best discipline, slalom, to move past her former teammate.
Her head coach, Mike Day, said Shiffrin was “not feeling tip-top” even before the race.
“It was good skiing, for sure not her best, but it was good skiing,” Day said.
About 13,200 fans attended the race in the hometown of Hermann Maier, one of Austria’s most successful racers. Marlies Raich, a former Austrian slalom standout when competing under her maiden name Schild and Shiffrin’s biggest idol growing up, was in attendance.
Vlhova had the fastest time in the first run and then extended her lead over Shiffrin for her first win this season. The Slovakian skier finished 0.43 seconds ahead of Shiffrin, while Lena Duerr of Germany finished 0.85 back in third.
“To be honest, I loved watching (Vlhova) ski this run. I think it was the perfect combination of aggressive and also smart,” Shiffrin said.
The American still leads the discipline standings after winning four of the seven slaloms so far this season, and holds a big lead of 399 points over Vlhova in the overall standings.
Shiffrin’s next chance to break the record will come in a super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, in 10 days. She plans to sit out speed races at another Austrian venue, St. Anton, this weekend.
Vonn broke the previous record, Annemarie Moser-Pröll’s mark of 62 wins, in Cortina eight years ago. Vonn retired four years ago when injuries cut her career short.
Shiffrin seemed to sense she might not have done enough after her second run, only briefly saluting the crowd as she then stuck her poles into the snow and looked back up the mountain to watch Vlhova’s winning run.
Shiffrin’s teammates were holding aloft ballons shaped as an “8” and “3” to form the No. 83 but there was to be no celebration this time as Vlhova, Shiffrin’s biggest rival, enjoyed the moment instead with a large crowd of Slovakian fans that follow her around.
Vlhova said Shiffrin going for the record did not provide her with any extra motivation.
“I was not thinking about her victories. I wanted just to give my best skiing,” said Vlhova, who was loudly cheered by fans waving Slovakian flags. “I’m proud that I could beat Mikaela because this season she is really strong. If you want to beat her, you have to ski both runs perfect, not (just) good.”
Vlhova had compiled seven podium finishes this season without a win entering the night.
“It was a long, long way to come back (to winning) here,” Vlhova said. “For me, it’s an amazing day.”
Wendy Holdener of Switzerland placed fourth and Paula Moltzan, an American teammate of Shiffrin’s, was fifth.
Shiffrin also remained four wins behind Ingemar Stenmark’s overall mark of 86 victories.
Stenmark raced in the 1970s and 80s.
Eric Willemsen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/eWilmedia
More AP skiing: https://apnews.com/hub/skiing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports