Shiffrin sweeps women's slalom in Finland to open World Cup season

Overall World Cup champion Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States claimed a slalom event on Sunday for a sweep of the two season-opening races in Levi, Finland. Laurence St-Germain was top Canadian in ninth.

Beats Holdener for 76th overall win on circuit; Canada's Laurence St-Germain 9th

Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States posted the fastest time in both runs Sunday for a two-run total of one minute 52.21 seconds to beat Switzerland's Wendy Holdener by 0.28 seconds and complete a weekend sweep of women's slalom at the season-opening World Cup in Levi, Finland. (Christophe Pallot/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

Overall World Cup champion Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States wasted no time in taking control of a new season, sweeping the two season-opening races on Sunday.

Shiffrin posted the fastest time in both runs on the way to her 49th slalom victory just a day after winning another slalom in Levi, Finland. No other skier has won more titles in a single competition than the 27-year-old Colorado native.

"Two races in a row like that, it's a really big effort so I'm just very happy," Shiffrin said.

She reached her 68th slalom podium, also a record in the women's competition, one more than compatriot Lindsey Vonn in downhill races.

"I really didn't expect today," Shiffrin said. "I mean even after the first run. I think everyone who is racing is so strong right now and there's so much, actually, a little bit of luck."

Shiffrin had a slim 0.07 second first-run lead over Lena Durr, with her rival Petra Vlhová of Slovakia having 0.1 of a second to make up in the second run in third.

The American produced a near perfect second run to hold off the charging Wendy Holdener and beat the Swiss by 0.28 seconds.

"This second run I was pushing as hard as I could push," she said. "I made adjustments and it felt like a really good pace and tempo. I was strong and solid everywhere."

Laurence St-Germain of Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., was ninth in 1:54.22, 2.01 seconds behind Shiffrin. Toronto's Ali Nullmeyer clocked 1:54.85 for 17th.

Canada's Laurence St-Germain earned the 12th top-10 finish of her career on Sunday. (Alessandro Trovati/Associated Press)

'We have a strong group of girls'

On a chilly, misty day, Germain held the lead for a handful of skiers. It's the 12th top-10 finish of her career and third such result in Levi, where she didn't advance to the second run on Saturday.

"Super stoked to be back in the top 10 and to put two strong runs together," a joyful St-Germain told Alpine Canada. "It's really motivating heading into Killington [Vt.] next week. Killington is my favourite race with my family being there. We have a strong group of girls, we've been training fast and I'm excited to see what's coming next."

Nullmeyer advanced to the second run both days, finishing 14th on Saturday.

Amelia Smart of Invermere, B.C., didn't qualify for Sunday's second run while Kiara "Kiki" Alexander of Sunshine Village, Alta. recorded a DNF (did not finish) on Sunday after not advancing to Saturday's second run.

It was the 30th slalom podium for Holdener who still has to win in the discipline. It's the most World Cup podium finishes without a win in the discipline. Holdener moved up to second from fourth after the second best time in the second run.

Vlhová, the slalom Olympic champion and last season's World Cup slalom winner, was third, matching her result on Saturday, 0.68 behind the leader.

Shiffrin leads the overall standings with 200 points, with Holdener second 75 points behind and Vlhova another five points back in third.

With 76 World Cup wins, the four-time overall champion is only behind Swedish skiing great Ingemar Stenmark (86) and Vonn (82).

Her next chance to add to her records will come in front of a home crowd.

Untouchable in Levi

The women's World Cup moves to the United States next weekend for a giant slalom on Saturday and another slalom on Sunday in Killington, Vt.

Shiffrin and Vlhova have dominated the field in this Finnish resort in recent years.

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

Her sixth victory earned the American a sixth reindeer — a traditional prize the winner receives in Levi where Shiffrin also won in 2013, '16, '18 and '19.

Vlhova has five wins, and a herd of five. The animals remain on a local farm in Finland.

Germany's Durr also matched her fourth-place finished on Saturday, 0.97 seconds behind Shiffrin with Olympic giant slalom champion Sara Hector of Sweden fifth, 1.42 second back.

Americans Katie Hensien and Ava Sunshine placed 26th and 27th, respectively, with Paula Moltzan crashing in the second run.

A total of 22 skiers didn't finish the opening run, including Anna Swenn Larsson of Sweden who took second on Saturday and Americans Zoe Zimmermann and Nina O'Brien.

The two slalom events in Levi opened the women's World Cup season after all four previously scheduled races were cancelled due to warm weather.

With files from CBC Sports

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