Liensberger wins Are slalom, Shiffrin left chasing record

·3-min read
Austria's Katharina Liensberger

Austria's newly-crowned world champion Katharina Liensberger won the second World Cup slalom in Are on Saturday after Mikaela Shiffrin made a costly error in her bid for a record-equalling discipline victory.

Liensberger, who upstaged Shiffrin and overall women's World Cup leader Petra Vlhova at the Cortina world champs last month, timed a combined total of 1min 47.93sec over the two runs for her maiden win on the circuit.

"It's amazing, I'm super proud, it was really my day today," said the 23-year-old Liensberger, who had nine previous podium finishes.

"I just wanted to ski as I know I can and just get the feeling through the gates, just put my energy into it and fly from the start to the finish line."

Shiffrin, who was fastest down the first leg as she celebrated her 26th birthday Saturday, was second at 0.72sec, her 47th podium finish in her last 51 slalom starts (36 wins).

But it was still not the elusive victory that would have seen the American claim a 46th World Cup slalom win to equal the record of most World Cup wins in a single discipline, by Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark in the giant slalom.

"It was a good day and a good fight in the second run," said Shiffrin. "I was pushing but Liensberger was just on another level.

"Two days, two podiums, some good fighting, it's been a nice weekend."

Shiffrin rebounded from a long time off the slopes following the sudden death of her father Jeff last year to win four world medals in Cortina last month, becoming the US skier with most world titles (six) and world medals (11).

"For me the last year and couple of months it's just trying to keep my head above water," she admitted.

"On paper it's my least successful season, but it's still been quite incredible, there have been some amazing races and a lot of success. I can be happy with that but not totally satisfied."

Switzerland's Wendy Holdener was third, at 0.72sec, as the race for the slalom's small crystal globe heated up: Liensberger, on 590, is now just 22 points behind Vlhova, with Shiffrin third on 575, followed by Michelle Gisin (431) and Holdener (415).

- Vlhova drama -

There was drama for Vlhova, who scraped through to the second run in 27th of the 30 qualifiers after recovering well from an early error.

The Slovak, almost three seconds behind Shiffrin, laid down a fantastic second run to eventually finish eighth, bagging 32 points, to go with the 100 she earned for winning Friday's opening slalom in the Swedish resort.

That extended her lead in the overall standings from Lara Gut-Behrami to 96pts, the Swiss speed specialist having opted out of the two slaloms in Sweden.

Vlhova's 54.94sec second run remained the fastest of the field and allowed her to sit in the lead as contenders failed to bother her.

As it narrowed down to the top 10, Norway's Kristina Riis-Johannessen eventually snatched the top spot by two-hundredths after Gisin fluffed her lines.

In sunny conditions on compact snow, another Norwegian, Kristin Lysdahl, and then American Paula Moltzan made their first-run advantage count.

Gisin's teammate Holdener, fourth fastest in the first run, then claimed temporary first place, Germany's Lena Duerr failing to knock her off the pedestal.

Liensberger, starting with a 0.73sec advantage, piled on the pressure, turning that into a 1.65sec lead, with just Shiffrin to race.

The American kicked out of the start hut 0.19sec up on the Austrian, but a mistake halfway down the course cost her dearly and she crossed the line in second.