She was targeting an historic eighth straight slalom victory, but Mikaela Shiffrin’s winning streak came to an end with defeat by Petra Vlhova in Austria Tuesday.
Shiffrin, 23, has dominated women’s slalom skiing in recent years and has edged Vlhova into second in the first five races of this season, but the Slovakian gained some revenge in the Flachau night race.
Vlhova, also 23, came from behind on the second run to win by 0.15 seconds to hand Shiffrin her first World Cup individual slalom defeat since last January.
“Tonight, she (Petra) got me,” said Shiffrin. “I know that I can’t win every race — I’m only human. It’s a big fight with Petra. That’s motivating … not records or numbers, but skiing my best and fighting out there.”
Vlhova also beat Shiffrin in the final of the Oslo parallel slalom — in which racers compete head-to-head on neighboring courses — on January 1.
Shiffrin has won nine times in 16 starts across four of the six World Cup disciplines this season to take her career tally to 52 World Cup wins, three shy of Switzerland’s Vreni Schneider in third on the women’s all-time list.
Lindsey Vonn leads with 82 World Cup victories and will begin her farewell season in St. Anton this weekend after recovering from injury.
Shiffrin’s blistering form this season has earned her the record of 15 victories in a calendar year. She also passed Austrian great Marlies Schild as the most successful women’s slalom skier of all time when she clinched her 36th win in Austria on December 29.
She is the runaway favorite for a third straight World Cup overall crown and leads Vlhova by 80 points in the slalom race.
In Flachau, Shiffrin was bidding to equal the record of eight consecutive slalom victories, held by Schneider and Croatia’s Janica Kostelic.
The Flachau race is the highest paying on the women’s circuit, with a pot of $196,000, far exceeding the stipulated minimum amount of $122,000. Vlhova received about $80,000 as the winner.
At next month’s World Championships in Are, Sweden, Shiffrin will be bidding for a fourth straight slalom world title.