Brilliant Mikaela Shiffrin secures 68th World Cup win to move ahead of Marcel Hirscher
Mikaela Shiffrin had to wait but she has finally won her first slalom race of the 2020-21 season. It moves her ahead of Marcel Hirscher in the all-time list and behind only Lindsey Vonn and Ingemar Stenmark. Shiffrin had to battle to deny home favourite Katharina Liensberger after a terrific performance earlier from the Swiss team.
Mikaela Shiffrin of USA takes 1st place during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's Slalom on January 12, 2021 in Flachau Austria
In many ways the day looked as if it might be about the Swiss team as the initial leader out of the gates in the second run was 22-year-old Melanie Mellaird.
Not to be outdone, 21-year-old Camille Rast, who started 57th in the first run, then stunned the pack as she took the lead going into the top 10 before she was eventually ousted by compatriot Michelle Gisin.
Gisin put in a storming run, and the unity within the Swiss team was clear as Rast celebrated emphatically in the winner’s chair.
Gisin then had Rast next to her while she waited for the last riders to come down the course but her stint didn’t last long as Liensberger thrilled the Austrian crowd with a blistering run.
Home favourite Liensberger has to settle for second in Flachau despite great run
It looked as if World Cup leader Vlhova might catch the Austrian but a couple of bad mistakes caught the defending champion out on this course.
Those mistakes opened the door for Rast and Gisin’s team-mate Wendy Holdener to round off the podium, her 25th podium without a World Cup victory.
This is a monumental win for Shiffrin, make no mistake about it.
Gisin might have broken the Shiffrin-Vlhova stranglehold on slalom racing a couple of weeks ago but they are still very much the two to beat.
Shiffrin has had to watch her Slovakian rival dominate the slalom but this was Shiffrin back to her best.
This was the last slalom before the World Championships in February and it will do Shiffrin the world of good to be going to Italy next month on the back of a win.