ALPINE SKIING: Shiffrin and Vlhova tie in Maribor; Vonn will retire after World Champs

American skiing star Mikaela Shiffrin (Photo: Reese Brown/U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

Ties aren’t common, but they show up occasionally in the FIS Alpine World Cup and they did again on Friday in Maribor (SLO) in the women’s Giant Slalom, as the two best technical skiers in the world – Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) and Petra Vlhova (SVK) – tied at 2:31.31.

Shiffrin had the lead after the first run at 1:14.28, ahead of Vlhova’s 1:14.76. But Vlhova came back to lead the second run at 1:16.55, while Shiffrin was fourth-fastest at 1:17.03. The totals were the same.

“I saw Petra from the start and I was like “OK, I better up the ante a little bit,’” said Shiffrin. “It was a fight in the second (run). I almost lost it at the bottom. I was fighting to find the finish line, and a little bit relieved to see the green light.”

On the tie, Shiffrin said, “It’s incredible, and it’s the first time I won a GS here, so it’s a really nice feeling. [The tie is] pretty cool, I know she’s been skiing pretty strong in GS – and of course strong in Slalom as well – there are some days when more than one person deserves to win the race, and today we were sharing that.”

The last World Cup came last season. On 14 March of 2018, Austrians Vincent Kriechmayr and Matthias Matt tied for the men’s Downhill title in the World Cup Final in Are.

It’s Shiffrin’s 12th World Cup win of the season, leaving her just two behind Swiss Vreni Schneider’s all-time single-season mark of 14 from 1989. She can pick up another on Saturday with the Slalom, which will be aired on NBC’s Olympic Channel at 7 a.m. Saturday morning, Eastern time.

FIS Alpine World Cup
Maribor (SLO) ~ 1-2 January 2019
(Full results here)

Women’s Giant Slalom: 1. tie, Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) & Petra Vlhova (SVK), 2:31.31; 3. Rahnhild Mowinckel (NOR), 2:32.24; 4. Wendy Holdener (SUI), 2:32.60; 5. Sara Hector (SWE), 2:32.81.

American star Lindsey Vonn finally succumbed to a long list of injuries during her career and announced on Friday that she will retire after this month’s World Championships. She wrote on a lengthy post on her Instagram account:

“It’s been an emotional 2 weeks making the hardest decision of my life, but I have accepted that I cannot continue ski racing. I will compete at the World Championships in Downhill and SG next week in Are, Sweden and they will be the final races of my career.

“I have always pushed the limits of ski racing and it has allowed me to have amazing success but also dramatic crashes. I have never wanted the storyline of my career to be about injuries and because of that I decided not to tell anyone that I underwent surgery this past spring. A large portion of cartilage that had delaminated from my bone was removed. My crash in Lake Louise last year was much more painful than I let on, but I continued to race because I wanted to win a medal in the Olympics for my late grandfather.

“Again, I rehabbed my way back this summer and I felt better than I had in a long time. Then I crashed in Copper this November and injured my left knee, tearing my LCL plus sustaining 3 fractures. Despite extensive therapy, training and a knee brace, I am not able make the turns necessary to compete the way I know I can. My body is broken beyond repair and it isn’t letting me have the final season I dreamed of. My body is screaming at me to STOP and it’s time for me to listen.

“Honestly, retiring isn’t what upsets me. Retiring without reaching my goal is what will stay with me forever. However, I can look back at 82 World Cup wins, 20 World Cup titles, 3 Olympic medals, 7 World Championship medals and say that I have accomplished something that no other woman in HISTORY has ever done, and that is something that I will be proud of FOREVER!”

Vonn will exit as the finest women’s Alpine skier of all time, and has been a positive force in the sport and beyond. But time matters and she is 34. Hopefully, she will stay around sports and especially around skiing.