In front of approximately 8,600 fans, Slovakian Petra Vlhova secured her fourth giant slalom win in Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic. The slalom specialist has come into her own in the giant slalom over the course of the season. In early 2019, Vlhova won her first ever World Cup giant slalom race in Semmering, Austria and has since gone on to take the victory on home soil in Maribor and the gold on the World Championship stage in Are, Sweden.
Vlhova’s win allowed her to overtake France’s Tessa Worley in the standings for the giant slalom globe. She now sits in second, 97 points behind standings leader, and Friday’s third-place finisher, Mikaela Shiffrin. Worley had been in the best position to challenge Shiffrin for the giant slalom title. Her seventh-place finish in Spindleruv Mlyn means that Shiffrin still sits in a solid position to take the overall giant slalom globe. Just three points short of clinching her third globe this season, the American has left just barely enough room in the standings so that the giant slalom title must officially be decided during World Cup finals in Soldeu.
“Those three points are not something to protect but they are something to be really aware of and like all season take nothing for granted. Clearly, Petra is skiing really well, and my second run is something I can be proud of,” said Shiffrin. “In the second run I was just so much cleaner. It was a small difference between the first and the second run but it makes such a big difference in time and I was able to make the adjustment but not without a lot of anger with myself. If you wanna win, you gotta ski better than that. So I tried to put everything into my second run.”
Shiffrin had her first World Cup start in Spindleruv Mlyn on March 11th, 2011 at the age of 15, kicking out of the giant slalom start gate in bib 46. Now, going into the 2018/2019 finals, Shiffrin has already clinched the slalom crystal globe, and the overall crystal globe after the cancellations in Sochi last week. Not only is she a contender for the giant slalom globe, she is also a contender for the super-G crystal globe due to the cancellations in St.Anton and in Sochi (races she would have skipped to focus on sustaining her energy throughout a stacked schedule). The super-G title was not initially on her radar at the beginning of the season, but unexpected success has brought her the lead over Tina Weirather in the super-G standings by a mere 32 points. If Shiffrin can clinch either title, she will be the first woman since Anna Vieth in 2015 to win three overall titles in a single season.
Between Vlhova, Worley, Federica Brignone, and Viktoria Rebensburg, the final giant slalom podium at World Cup finals is still up in the air. Vlhova leads Worley by a mere eight points, who leads Brignone by 50 points in third. Rebensburg’s second place finish on Friday in Spindleruv Mlyn inched her closer to Worley, now 75 points back from third. Depending on how Soldeu shakes out, the giant slalom podium could turn a multitude of ways.
Rebensburg has had 14 World Cup victories in the giant slalom, equal to that of the technical greats such as Tina Maze, Anita Wachter, and Lise-Marie Morerod. Yet the 29-year-old woman has been unable to win a World Cup race in the 2018/19 season. She has finished second in Courchevel and Semmering, as well as in World Championships. Eight years ago, the last time the women’s circuit visited Spindleruv Mlyn, Rebensburg won the giant slalom but was unable to repeat her win on Friday.
“When I started ski racing, I just loved the sport so much and what it gave to me. I’ve been Olympic Champion, I’ve won three globes, I have 16 World Cup wins and many GS victories and podiums, and two super-G medals. It’s so much more than I ever expected to achieve in my career and I’m really grateful for that,” said Rebensburg. “I’m just happy that I’m still able to do my sport and that I’m still healthy. The most important thing after winning eight years ago and I getting second today, is I’ve kept the intensity in this discipline, which has changed a lot in the last eight years. It’s a good sign for me.”
Other notable performances came from the Austrian camp, led by Eva-Maria Brem in her first top ten appearance on the World Cup since 2016. The 30-year-old World Cup veteran finished sixth, followed by Katharina Truppe in eighth, and Ricarda Haaser in ninth. Frida Hansdotter broke into the top of the field in tenth in her last giant slalom competition prior to finals in Soldeu, Andorra next week.
On Saturday the women move on to the slalom for one final race before World Cup finals kick off in Soldeu and the final overall titles are decided. The first run begins at 10:30 CET, 2:30 am EST and can be streamed on OlympicChannel.com or NBC Sports Gold.
- Petra Vlhova (SVK): 2:24.80 – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Viktoria Rebensburg (GER): +0.11 – Stoeckli/Lange
- Mikaela Shiffrin (USA): +0.60 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Federica Brignone (ITA): +1.49 – Rossignol/Look/Lange
- Meta Hrovat (SLO): +1.83 – Salomon/Salomon
- Eva-Maria Brem (AUT): +1.97 – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Tessa Worley (FRA): +2.18 – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Katharina Truppe (AUT): +2.49 – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Ricarda Haaser (AUT): +2.62 – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Frida Hansdotter (SWE): +2.68 – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
For complete FIS results, please click here.