When Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest slalom world champion in history last year, she celebrated by picking a fight with a relative she blames for her prodigious success.
That relative? Petra Vlhova, of Slovakia.
Vlhova beat Shiffrin, with whom she shared a training base in Vermont, in a slalom Saturday at Alta Badia, Italy, earning her first victory of the season.
Shiffrin, who was in second place after a blazing first run, suffered a fall on her second turn and later dropped to seventh place.
Vlhova was upbeat after the race. “I was really strong on the gates today, which is really good,” she said. “In the second run, I tried to read my skis. For sure, now I think the results are more than the training runs.”
With the result, Vlhova, who turns 23 on Sunday, edged out Shiffrin by two points to win the GS Junior World Cup title in 2011.
Sending Shiffrin home in the first run was huge for Vlhova, who came in ranked second in the overall slalom standings.
One of the things that has enabled Shiffrin to win 10 races this season is her selection of downhill and super-G venues, giving her the opportunity to stretch out her legs in the more technical disciplines.
But Vlhova has found success at her home province of Slovakia’s World Cup stop in recent years, including placing second and third in last season’s slalom, so Shiffrin’s decision not to race a slalom next weekend seemed to leave a smile on Vlhova’s face.
And the way she handled Shiffrin’s best trick—a run of an avalanche of fast turns—suggested she knows how to deal with trouble.
After losing time on her first turn of the second run, Shiffrin held steady, moving back to second place at the last split time and catching Vlhova with 10 meters left.
But in the ensuing run, Shiffrin ran too wide going down the uphill portion of the hill—composed of multiple jumps—and lost time. On the winner’s podium, Vlhova looked to her right at Shiffrin and then laughed.
“It just happened,” Shiffrin said, adding that she took her skis back and worked on them. “It’s hard to know what really happened … but obviously, I’m super sad that I let that time slip away. I was just trying to be confident that my skis were OK and at a point when I should’ve just skied flat.”
Shiffrin is trying to defend her two slalom world titles this season—another major reason why Vlhova slipped past her in the standings Saturday.
“Her consistency [is good],” Shiffrin said. “She’s already won a World Cup, which is never easy, so she’s been able to sustain that. It’s great to see her keeping that success and keep going, because it’s really hard to do that.”
Shiffrin held a narrow lead after the first run—after finishing a brutal first run at her home course that placed her 12th, more than two seconds behind the winner, Frida Hansdotter of Sweden.
Shiffrin looked fatigued when she returned to the hill, but she came back in the second run to put herself in position to take the lead.
She wound up second, recording a time of 1 minute, 24.33 seconds on the second run, nearly two seconds behind Hansdotter.
Germany’s Lizzy Yarnold, who took gold in her first World Cup super-G last month in Buttermilk, Ore., placed fourth, while Julia Mancuso, who won her only slalom world title three years ago at Letzigrund in the Austrian Alps, placed fifth.
Marta Sharpe, who has never won a World Cup slalom, finished in 11th place.