SR Staff Report
MERIBEL, France — Mikaela Shiffrin already got the overall World Cup title. Petra Vlhová had the Olympic and World Cup titles in slalom. Maybe that left space for a surprise Saturday.
Andreja Slokar stepped up with a career-best result to win the slalom at the World Cup Finals meeting in the sunny French Alps.
The 24-year-old Slovenian skier finished 0.48 seconds ahead of Lena Dürr, who let another first-run lead slip as she did at the Beijing Olympics last month.
Vlhová, who won five of the previous eight World Cup slalom races, was 0.81 back in third.
Shiffrin had been fifth-fastest in the morning then dropped to finish eighth, 1.48 back. Paula Moltzan was 2.39 behind Slokar in 16th place. Only Slokar among the contenders found their speed on a second-run surface that degraded under a warming sun.
“In past races I’ve shown not much speed in these softer conditions,” commented Shiffrin. “It’s something I didn’t have time to figure out before now, but now we have something I can really work on over the summer if we want to try and improve a bit on this kind of softer snow.”
When asked if she is looking forward to the final race of the season, the giant slalom on Sunday, she said, “I’m optimistic. I think it’s a chance for me to again try to work on some things in softer snow. Normally I won’t risk something unless I feel that there is something to get back from the surface. But I’m also watching all the other competitors when they’re skiing really well on these kinds of conditions, their movements and how they’re able to perform and I’m hopeful that I have the chance to perform like that as well.”
Teammate Paula Moltzan finished 16th in the final slalom on Saturday, landing her in the top 20 ranking in slalom overall. Moltzan will join Shiffrin on Sunday in the World Cup Final giant slalom for the first time in her career.
The 18-year-old world junior champion, Zrinka Ljutic of Croatia, also excelled in the afternoon to finish fifth.
Slokar had won a parallel racing on the World Cup circuit in November, though never finished better than fourth in slalom during her career.
Her fifth-place finish at the Olympics, just 0.10 out of the medals, also hinted at her potential.
It was another disappointment for Dürr, who still seeks a victory after more than 100 starts in World Cup slaloms.
The 30-year-old German could not retain a 0.37 lead from the morning — and a 0.75 advantage over Slokar — though at least earned her fourth podium finish this season in slaloms. In China, her first-run lead slipped to a fourth place just 0.07 away from the bronze medal.
The surging Canadian women’s slalom team again crowded the leaderboard with four inside the top 15.
The Canadian’s were lead by Toronto’s Ali Nullmeyer, who posted the fastest second-run time to jump into sixth, while Invermere, B.C.’s Amelia Smart took the third-fastest second run to finish 9th. It was the second time this season that Nullmeyer posted a leading time.
Close behind were teammates Laurence St-Germain, of St. Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., finished 11th and Erin Mielzynski, of Collingwood, Ont., in 15th.
After the race, Vlhová was presented with the small crystal globe trophy for topping the slalom standings. She also won it in 2020.
Shiffrin will be presented with her fourth giant crystal globe as overall champion on Sunday, after the giant slalom that ends the women’s season.
She and Vlhová are in a four-way contest for the giant slalom discipline title with Olympic champion Sara Hector and two-time world champion Tessa Worley.
The Associated Press and the US Ski Team press office contributed to this report.