Shiffrin says she misses injured rival Vlhova after taking 95th career win

Mikaela Shiffrin earned her 95th career win, extending her record. She triumphed in a slalom at the Women’s World Cup on Sunday, a day after the star’s main rival suffered a season-ending injury.

In the first race without Olympic slalom champion Petra Vlhova, Shiffrin defeated Croatian teenager Zrinka Ljutic by 0.14 seconds. Sweden’s Anna Swenn Larsson in third place and Switzerland’s Camille Rast in fourth were the only other racers to finish within a second of Shiffrin’s time.

“We miss someone very big today, we missed Petra very much, so it’s great that you stayed,” the American told the Slovak audience in an interview during the course. “It wasn’t easy during the second run, now I feel the energy is gone.

“I could hear you cheering for Zrinka, which was pretty cool to hear this sound from the beginning. I knew she was putting in a great run and I had to push.

It was Shiffrin’s fifth slalom win of the season and her 58th overall, a World Cup record for both men and women.

Shiffrin also set a record for most World Cup podiums in a single discipline with 82, after sharing the previous best mark with Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark, who achieved 81 top-three results in slalom in the 1970s and 1980s.

Vlhova crashed and tore ligaments in her right knee on Saturday during the giant slalom near her hometown in the Tatra Mountains.

Shiffrin and Vlhova have dominated women’s slalom skiing for years, winning 14 of the last 15 races together, including all eight this season, in a run only interrupted by Lena Duerr when the German triumphed in the Czech resort of Spindleruv Mlyn a year ago.

“I’ve been thinking about Vlhova a lot in the last 24 hours,” Shiffrin said. “For me personally, I’ve grown to love the fights with her over the last few years. I think she would have been so strong today. So I really miss seeing her ski today and fighting that battle.

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With Vlhova out of the race, Shiffrin is close to clinching her eighth World Cup season title in slalom, leading third-place Duerr by 228 points with three events to go. Since a race win is worth 100 points, Shiffrin can secure the title at the next slalom in Soldeu, Andorra, on February 11.

On Sunday, Duerr was 1.77 seconds behind the lead in seventh place.

Vlhova became the third former overall champion to end his season prematurely this month. In the men’s race, Alexis Pinturault and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde underwent surgery for various injuries after crashing during speed races in Wengen, Switzerland.