US skier Shiffrin leads slalom after 1st run, Vlhova in 27th


ÅRE, Sweden — Mikaela Shiffrin led a women’s World Cup slalom after the opening run on Saturday, while the American’s main rival, Petra Vlhova, only just qualified for the final run following a costly mistake.

The Slovakian, who won Friday’s race on the same course, finished 2.95 seconds behind in 27th place. Only the top 30 are allowed to start in the second run.

Vlhova lost her balance after the fifth gate and needed an acrobatic recovery with her left leg up in the air to correctly pass the next gate. She was already 1.97 seconds behind Shiffrin at the first split.

Vlhova led Shiffrin by 85 points in the discipline standings before the race, with the title now likely to be decided at the last slalom of the season, at next week’s finals in Switzerland.

Shiffrin, who turned 26 on Saturday, positioned herself for her 70th career win with a clean run. The American led Katharina Liensberger, the world champion from Austria, by 0.19 seconds.

If Shiffrin wins for her 46th career slalom triumph, she would match a World Cup record. Only one skier, male or female, has won as many races in a single discipline: Ingemar Stenmark triumphed 46 times in giant slalom in the 1970s and 80s.

Lena Dürr of Germany was 0.68 behind in third, and Swiss skier Wendy Holdener was the only other racer to finish within a second of the lead.

Another Swiss skier, Mélanie Meillard, tested positive for COVID-19 after competing in Friday’s race and was quarantining.

Her teammates were cleared to start Saturday after their tests in the early morning hours came back negative.

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