Mikaela Shiffrin wins season-opening World Cup slalom

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LEVI, Finland (AP) — World Cup champion champion Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States claimed the season-opening women’s World Cup race on Saturday for her 48th slalom victory.

No other skier has won more titles in a single competition.

She reached her 67th slalom podium, also a record in women’s single competition, one more than compatriot Lindsey Vonn in downhill races.

Shiffrin moved to the top with the fastest second run after placing third in the opening run in foggy conditions in Finnish Lapland to beat Anna Swenn Larsson of Sweden by .16 of a second.

“Yeah, this is amazing,” Shiffrin said. “Really strong skiing, really good final in that last bit of the pitch. Yeah, super cool.”

It the 75th World Cup win for the four-time overall champion. Only Swedish skiing great Ingemar Stenmark (86) and Vonn (82) have more.

Slalom Olympic champion and last season’s World Cup slalom winner Petra Vlhová of Slovakia was third, another four hundredths of a second back.

Vlhová took a lead after the first sections of the second run but made a mistake in the steep middle part, while Shiffrin accelerated toward the end for the win.

Vlhová and Shiffrin have dominated the field in this Finnish resort in recent years. Both skiers have won five slalom events, meaning the two rivals now have an equal herd of five reindeer, a traditional prize the winner receives in Levi.

No skier other than Vlhová or Shiffrin has won the traditional season-opening slalom since then-overall champion Tina Maze triumphed in 2014.

Shiffrin also won in 2013, ‘16, ’18 and ’19.

Germany’s Lena Dürr led after the opening run but dropped to fourth, .75 of a second behind Shiffrin, with Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener fifth another four hundredths of a second behind.

Slovenia’s Ana Bucik placed sixth and giant slalom specialist Sara Hector of Sweden seventh.

Another American, Ava Sunshine, was 21st.

American skiers Paula Moltzan and AJ Hurt were among 13 skiers who didn’t finish the opening round.

Unusually warm weather had prompted all four previously scheduled women’s World Cup races to be canceled.

Only a giant slalom that was slated to open the season in Sölden, Austria, on Oct. 22, was rescheduled for Semmering, Austria, in late December.

The organizers in Levi, which is located 110 miles north of the Arctic Circle, stored almost 60,000 cubic meters (almost 78,500 cubic yards) of snow on the resort’s Black slope in the spring to make sure the races take place.

Another slalom in Levi is scheduled for Sunday.

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