KILLINGTON, Vt. — Vermont’s Thanksgiving weekend tradition continued on Sunday at the Killington World Cup, as 11,000 ski racing fans showed to cheer on Mikaela Shiffrin’s slalom victory.
It was Shiffrin’s fourth consecutive slalom win in the Killington event, first hosted in 2016. Her 2019 performance was particularly impressive. When she crossed the finish line on her second run of the day, the 24-year-old’s margin of victory was 2.29 seconds over runner up Petra Vlhova of Slovakia. Sweden’s Anna Swenn Larsson was third, 2.73 seconds behind.
“It was just a fight,” said Shiffrin after the race. “And I expected that because I knew Petra had a couple big mistakes after the first run, and Wendy [Holderner’s] coach set the second run, so I was expecting that they were both going to be really fast and fighting really hard. So I just had to go for it.”
Shiffrin has been skiing with a heavy heart this season following the death of her 98-year-old grandmother, Pauline Condron, in November.
“There are some feelings that I’ve kind of just put in a box so I can focus on the racing,” said Shiffrin. “At some point I’m probably going to have to face that, but I’m trying not to do it just yet. It’s just sometimes things you can’t deal with yet. Right now, it’s just trying to remember her in the best way that I possibly can because she was absolutely just an angel on this earth.”
To put Shiffrin’s slalom dominance into perspective, the time difference between her and Vlhova was almost the same as Vlhova and Magdalena Fjaellstroem of Sweden, who was 15th. It’s Shiffrin’s 42nd career World Cup slalom win (which extends her own record), and her 62nd win across all disciplines on the tour.
Still, the four Killington victories are special to Shiffrin, who grew up skiing in New Hampshire and attended Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont.
“It’s so fun to compete in front of a crowd like here,” said Shiffrin. “This crowd is just so special. They create a special atmosphere, and I can hear them. I could hear them today again. I kept thinking to just keep fighting to get down there and keep fighting to make it to the finish, keep pushing. These guys are excited to see it, and they really, really carried me down the hill.”
Race conditions deteriorated in the afternoon, but were ideal in the morning. This allowed the favorites — who skied first — to get going quickly in their opening runs. Shiffrin was third to go in her first run, and confidently skied into the lead. She carried a 1.13-second advantage over Vlhova halfway through the competition.
“I was really quick, and I was aggressive and athletic even when I got shot out of some turns, I was able to pull it back,” Shiffrin explained. “I was pretty close on being precise to the line I wanted to ski as well.”
“I had a good line, good tactics, and just a really good game plan for that run in order to make it as smooth and connected as I could,” Shiffrin added in between runs. “It worked.”
Shiffrin and Vlhova have been on an almost unprecedented run of dominance in World Cup slalom. The duo have accounted for every win in the discipline on the World Cup tour since January 2017.
Shiffrin, who finished third in the giant slalom portion of Killington’s event on Saturday, extended her overall World Cup points lead. With 340 points, she holds a commanding lead over Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin (148).