ASPEN, Colo. (AP) – Mikaela Shiffrin had the ideal scenario all worked out: celebrate a slalom win in front of the home crowd to cap off capturing the overall World Cup title.
It just didn’t quite go according to plan. Still, a big day for the young American.
Petra Vlhova of Slovakia stole some of the show from Shiffrin – the newly anointed overall champion – by speeding up near the bottom to take a slalom race at World Cup Finals on Saturday.
Vlhova finished in a combined time of 1 minute, 32 seconds as she eclipsed the American by 0.24 seconds. Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter was third.
It was Vlhova’s first World Cup win since Dec. 13, 2015, in Sweden. She led Shiffrin by 0.07 seconds after the morning run and discovered another gear on the sun-drenched course.
The 22-year-old Shiffrin wrapped up the overall World Cup title when Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec didn’t race the slalom. She officially takes the title by 278 points over Stuhec.
The reality of her accomplishment is beginning to sink in for Shiffrin, who was greeted at the finish with boisterous cheers.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever process that,” Shiffrin said of winning the overall. “It’s been a goal and a dream of mine since I was 5 years old. It’s really difficult to understand something that finally happens after 20 years.”
Shiffrin becomes the fifth American ski racer to win the overall crown, joining Phil Mahre (1981-83), Tamara McKinney (1983), Bode Miller (2005, 2008) and Lindsey Vonn (2008-10, 2012).
McKinney couldn’t be happier that Shiffrin joined such an elite club. She watches virtually every race on television, but caught this one in person.
“Mikaela’s got the whole package, where she’s worked hard, and loves what she does,” McKinney said. “That’s at the core of it. It’s been really exciting to watch.”
Shiffrin locked up her fourth slalom title in five seasons before the race. On Sunday, she has an outside chance at a giant slalom crown, trailing Tessa Worley of France by 80 points.
“I’m definitely motivated after today,” Shiffrin said. “I don’t want to leave anything out there.”
– By PAT GRAHAM, AP Sports Writer
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