Another World Cup win for U.S. teen skier

Giovanni Auletta/Associated Press

Mikaela Shiffrin, a teenager from Vail, won her second World Cup title Friday when she beat the field at a night slalom in Zagreb, Croatia. “I was just letting my skis (take) me to the bottom,” Shiffrin said.

By Eric Willemsen
Associated Press Writer

ZAGREB, Croatia – Teenager Mikaela Shiffrin is living up to her billing as American skiing’s next big star.

Shiffrin, from Vail, earned her second World Cup title Friday by winning the slalom by a massive 1.19-second margin to regain the lead in the discipline standings.

The 17-year-old Shiffrin had the fastest time in both runs of the night slalom to finish in a combined 2 minutes, 1.73 seconds. She won her first career World Cup event last month in Are, Sweden.

“I skied solid. It went really smooth,” Shiffrin said. “I was just letting my skis (take) me to the bottom, and that is what I am looking for.”

Shiffrin was helped by mistakes from her closest challengers after the opening leg, Slovenia’s Tina Maze and Sweden’s Maria Pietilae-Holmner, who both failed to finish their final run.

Frida Hansdotter of Sweden was second, and Erin Mielzynski of Canada was 1.76 behind in third.

The rest of the field finished more than two seconds off Shiffrin’s winning time.

“Everything went really well (Friday),” Shiffrin said. “I said it in Are, and I say it again now: I have no idea how I feel. Maybe you should ask me again in a couple of years.”

Defending overall champion Lindsey Vonn, who returned to training Thursday after a monthlong break from the circuit, skipped the race. Slalom world champion Marlies Schild of Austria had been ruled out for three months after knee surgery in December.

Maze, who straddled a gate to end her run Friday, lost her lead in the slalom standings to Shiffrin but remained atop the overall World Cup standings.

Shiffrin has 336 points, followed by Veronika Velez Zuzulova of Slovakia with 312 and Maze with 310. The next slalom is another night event on Jan. 15 in Flachau, Austria.

“It’s definitely one of my goals to win the slalom title,” Shiffrin said. “And then the GS title, and sometime the overall. Right now, I am taking it day by day and race by race.”

Velez Zuzulova won the last two races in Semmering and Munich but finished only 24th after a mistake in her second run brought her to a standstill.

Shiffrin said she was back to full strength after fighting a persistent cold in December.

“I was a little bit sick, I think I have my energy back now,” she said.

Shiffrin’s teammate Resi Stiegler finished ninth for her best result since recovering from knee surgery following her crash at last year’s World Cup finals.

The course was in excellent condition despite rising temperatures in the last few days.

A men’s slalom on the same course is scheduled for Sunday. The women’s circuit travels to St. Anton, Austria, for speed races next week.

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