Petra Vlhova continues hot form in slalom with Kranjska Gora win

The Slovakian has now won five of the season's six slalom races, with Mikaela Shiffrin – who straddled a gate on her second run in Slovenia – the only woman to have stopped her so far.

By ZK Goh
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

Petra Vlhova appears unbeatable in slalom at the moment.

For the fifth time in six races this season, the Slovakian triumphed in that discipline on the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup circuit after a storming victory in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, on the Podkoren 3 slope on Sunday (9 January).

The 26-year-old looked imperious on her second run despite the course conditions, which were not to her liking on a cloudy day with temperatures hovering just below freezing.

With the win, coupled with a surprise did-not-finish for American rival Mikaela Shiffrin, Vlhova extended her lead at the top of the slalom World Cup standings to an impressive 240 points while also closing the margin to Shiffrin in the overall standings to just 35 points.

Vlhova, whose only slalom defeat this year came at Killington where she finished second to Shiffrin in the latter's home race, was second after the first run behind Switzerland's Wendy Holdener but stormed through the course on the second leg to record the fastest second-run time and win by a comfortable margin.

The Slovak appeared to stumble slightly out of the gate in the top section where the snow and ice underfoot had appeared to cut up the most, but kept her composure and quickly gained time in the flatter second sector.

An aggressive, tight line in the final descent led her across the finish in a combined time from her two legs of 1 minute 44.29 seconds.

"This morning I was a little bit angry because I saw the conditions were not perfect, not like a World Cup race," Vlhova admitted to FIS TV afterwards.

"It's not so easy to win all the time and today was tough conditions, second run I did everything perfect and at the end it's another victory. I'm happy because my team, they do everything for me to be in a perfect shape and I am trying all days to be 100 percent perfect, and I am again here."

Holdener finished second, some 0.23 seconds behind, after keeping her lead through the first two sectors before losing time towards the bottom.

It was the Swiss skier's 29th World Cup slalom podium in her 100th race in the discipline, extending a record for most World Cup podiums in a discipline without a win. No other skier, male or female, has had as many podium finishes in a single discipline without standing on the top step of the podium.

"It was a big fight because Wendy did a good run," Vlhova said of Holdener. "I am a little bit sad for her because she is all the time second."

Sweden's Anna Swenn Larsson, sixth after the first run, improved to third overall, aided by mistakes form both Shiffrin and Katharina Liensberger.

Shiffrin had started out strongly in her run, carrying a 0.66-second advantage over Swenn Larsson from the first leg and opening that up to over a second at the midway point with some aggressive skiing.

However, that backfired when the American uncharacteristically straddled a gate in the third sector, just as world champion Liensberger had two racers before her.

The women's circuit now heads to Schladming, Austria, for another slalom race.

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