Given her recent form of five straight wins, Mikaela Shiffrin looked nailed on for another triumph in Austria Friday but the American star slipped from first to fifth after the second and final run of a World Cup giant slalom event.
The 23-year-old leads the World Cup overall standings by a huge margin after seven wins already this season, but Shiffrin struggled in Semmering as Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova stormed to her first giant slalom victory and fifth career win.
Shiffrin led by 0.02 seconds from Austria’s Stephanie Brunner after run one but her second effort was well off the pace as Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg, France’s Tessa Worley and Brunner also came through.
“It was tricky, it was really tight but sometimes you push over the limit or in the wrong way,” she told reporters.
Shiffrin has another chance to set the record of 15 straight wins in a calendar year in a slalom in Semmering Saturday.
With team mate Lindsey Vonn yet to start her farewell season because of injury, Shiffrin has stolen the limelight this term and has taken her tally of career World Cup wins to 50, including double victories in St. Moritz and Courchevel before Christmas.
Shiffrin has now won in four of the six alpine disciplines this season — slalom, giant slalom, super-G and parallel slalom. Only missing are wins in downhill or the combined event.
Shiffrin is targeting a third straight World Cup overall crown and a fourth consecutive slalom world title at the World Championships in Are, Sweden in February.
In Bormio, Italy, homegrown athletes Dominik Paris and Christof Innerhofer topped the standings in a challenging men’s World Cup downhill on the notorious long, bumpy, icy Stelvio track.
Paris clinched his first win of the season and a record-equaling third at Bormio by 0.36 seconds from Innerhofer with Switzerland’s downhill world champion and Olympic bronze medalist Beat Feuz in third.
“It feels amazing, it was a big dream to make a triple on this very difficult slope,” Paris told reporters.
“Bormio is always very tough. It’s not easy to arrive on the bottom when it’s so bumpy and icy. But I tried to push really hard and today I’m the lucky one.
“I like it when it’s very difficult and icy because you need tactics on the course, not just going straight down.
“The bottom is always a challenge because the legs are burning and you have to battle to the finish.”
Rising US star Bryce Bennett, 26, clinched a career-best fourth to add to a ninth in Beaver Creek in November.