The first World Cup race of the calendar year saw the return of Mikaela Shiffrin in slalom disrupted by the skiier’s Slovakian rival, Petra Vlhova, who won the race by five-tenths of a second.
It was Shiffrin’s first race back after missing two races due to a positive COVID-19 test.
“I think I had really good skiing,” Shiffrin said. “Especially after the last two weeks, it’s really wonderful to come back. That I could ski some of my best slalom is really cool.”
Shiffrin was cleared on Monday to race and was the lone competitor to finish within two seconds of Vlhova. Slalom world champion Katharina Liensberger came in third, a massive 2.11 seconds behind the winner.
The Olympic champion placed first and second, respectively, in two giant slaloms in France two weeks ago. But a positive COVID-19 test kept her from racing in Austria the next week.
“After Courchevel, my tank was totally empty, so I needed some time to rest — and then I got a lot of time to rest,” Shiffrin said. “It wasn’t really recovery and I wasn’t able to do any real exercises or training for 10 or more days.”
Vlhova, meanwhile, took advantage of Shiffrin’s disappearance, winning the slalom in the Lienzer Dolomites. With a win in four of the season’s five slaloms under her belt, she leads the discipline standings by 140 points over Shiffrin.