Petra Vlhova has held on to her first-run lead to beat Mikaela Shiffrin and win the first World Cup slalom of the season
The Slovakian overall champion initially lost a few hundredths from her slim lead of .11 but accelerated near the end of her final run to win by .31 as the pair continued their dominance in the annual event in Finnish Lapland.
No skier other than Vlhova or Shiffrin has won the traditional season-opening slalom since then-overall champion Tina Maze triumphed in 2014. Shiffrin and Vlhova have now each win it four times.
“Here on this kind of slope I like to ski, it’s something special to me,” said Vlhova, who won two slaloms in one weekend here last year.
Having dealt with a back issue that hampered her training over the last few weeks, Shiffrin was made to wait in her bid to match the 32-year-old record for most World Cup victories in a single discipline. Currently on 45 slalom wins, the American is one short of Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s best mark in giant slalom.
Lena Dürr finished .84 behind in third for the German skier’s second career podium result, nearly nine years after winning a city event in Moscow.
Andreja Slokar of Slovenia, who won the parallel event last week, was 1.12 behind in fourth, followed by Anna Swenn Larsson, who was one-hundredth of a second further back in fifth. The Swede returned from a knee injury to compete in her first World Cup race in 21 months.
Austria’s Katharina Liensberger was 1.28 behind in sixth. Liensberger edged Shiffrin and Vlhova to win the World Cup slalom title last season, a few weeks after also winning the world title in the discipline.
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