L Alpine skiing

In the lead: Petra Vlhova © ANSA / ANTONIO BAT

Vlhova leads, Shiffrin threads in and Popovic falls headfirst into the finish

The first round in Kranjska Gora (Slovenia) refuted an old saying that Petra Vlhova and Mikaela Shiffrin were in a league of their own in slalom. The Slovakian is in the lead, but the competition is hot on her heels. Her eternal rival, however, suffered an extremely rare mishap.

Mikaela Shiffrin is known for her sophisticated technique. The Americans almost never make big mistakes, let alone failures or mistakes. The numbers prove this: In her long World Cup career, the 28-year-old has only failed to finish a slalom race seven times. The last outage was on January 9, 2022 in Kranjska Gora. Two years later, she failed to reach the goal again at the same place, thus opening the door to competition for Petra Vlhova.

In difficult conditions again, she had the advantage of starting number 1. On the tricky course, the 28-year-old mastered all the hurdles without any major problems. What Vlhova did particularly well was the steep final slope, where she made the difference. Immediately afterwards, this almost became Leona Popovic's undoing. The Croatian had a spectacular fall, flew headfirst into the finish, but did everything correctly and is in shared second place at the halfway point with the German Lena Dürr (+ 0,26 seconds).

Leona Popovic was uninjured when she fell. © ANSA / ANTONIO BAT

Shiffrin started with number 7 and was already in dire straits in the first few goals. She was able to correct one mistake, but shortly afterwards the race was over for the superstar completed. “I can accept that I was eliminated. But I hate it when I merge,” she said at the finish. “It's a terrible feeling and entirely my fault.” Italy's best hope, Marta Rossetti, was eliminated for the third time in a row after promising interim periods. Vera Tschurtschenthaler did not qualify for the decision.

The result

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