Petra Vlhova claims 1st women’s World Cup slalom event of the new year

Petra Vlhova won the first women’s World Cup slalom of 2021 on Sunday, five days after her four-year-long joint winning streak with Mikaela Shiffrin ended.

In tough conditions due to fog and rain, the overall leader from Slovakia beat Katharina Liensberger of Austria by five-hundredths of a second.

Shiffrin was 0.27 behind in fourth.

While Canada’s Erin Mielzynski came fifth. The native of Guelph Ont., was 1.40 seconds behind.

At a night race in Semmering last Tuesday, Michelle Gisin became the first skier other than Vlhova or Shiffrin to win a World Cup slalom in 29 races since January 2017, when Frida Hansdotter triumphed in Flachau.

Vlhova and Gisin are 1-2 in both the slalom and the overall standings.

On Sunday, the Swiss skier was 0.22 behind in third as the top four from the first run remained unchanged.

Defending overall champion Federica Brignone skipped the race in order to train for upcoming speed events in Austria.

Earthquake relief given

Heavy rain on Saturday weakened the surface of the Crveni Spust course just outside Croatia’s capital. Course workers added salt that hardened the top layer but also created a lot of bumps.

Even Croatian great Ivica Kostelic struggled on the course. The 2011 men’s overall champion lost his balance and fell during a pre-race camera run.

The race took place five days after a magnitude 6.4 earthquake hit central Croatia. Race organizers said they would donate 10 per cent of the prize money to a relief fund for people whose houses have been damaged or destroyed.

The Croatian ski federation matched that donation, raising the total amount to $60,000 US.