Shiffrin wins 7th consecutive women's slalom, tying personal best
Defeats Slovakia's Vlhova by 1.25 seconds; Canadians Mielzynski, St-Germain crack top 15
In the rhythmic style of a dancer, Mikaela Shiffrin approached yet another record on Saturday.
The American skier dominated the first women's World Cup slalom of 2019 to match her personal best winning streak in the discipline with seven straight victories.
Rivals were awed by her opening run, a flawless attack that gave her a lead of more than a second for the final run, while Shiffrin felt a familiar groove.
Watch Mikaela Shiffrin dominate the competition:
"When I am skiing my best, it feels something like a dance," she said. "The rhythm is really something that I can feel helps me ski faster in every turn. There were a lot of turns that felt like this dance."
Everybody on my team does a really good job to help me focus again, push harder, to be more motivated ... to do these things that I can stay at the top.— U.S. alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin
The American two-time overall champion built on a big first-run lead of more than a second to beat Petra Vlhova of Slovakia by 1.25. Wendy Holdener of Switzerland was 1.75 seconds behind in third.
At a night race in Austria on Tuesday, Shiffrin can match the all-time record of eight consecutive slalom wins, set by Vreni Schneider of Switzerland in 1989 and repeated by Janica Kostelic of Croatia in 2001.
"I am not counting the streak," she said. "To be at this level and always pushing to be faster and stay at the top, for sure it is difficult to keep that form or to even get better. Everybody on my team does a really good job to help me focus again, to push harder, to be more motivated, to do these things that I can stay at the top. I am not up there alone."
It was Shiffrin's fourth triumph in the race on the outskirts of Croatian capital Zagreb, after winning it in 2013, 2015 and last year.
"It's a great atmosphere and it's a really great track," Shiffrin said about the Sljeme hill. "It's the perfect track to be aggressive. I just tried to do my best and the surface was perfect so it was easier to be really aggressive."
World Cup-record holder
Last week, the American set the all-time women's World Cup record of 36 slalom victories. Saturday's win leaves her three short of Ingemar Stenmark's total of 40. The Swedish great is the only skier to have won more races than Shiffrin in the discipline.
She built on a big first-run lead to beat Vlhova of Slovakia by 0.29 seconds and Holdener by 0.38 for her 36th slalom victory.
In all five classic slalom races this season Shiffrin and Vlhova went 1-2, but the Slovakian turned the tables in a parallel event in Oslo on New Year's Day, when she beat her rival in the final.
Four days later, however, Shiffrin won in impressive style.
She was challenged by a furious final run of Vlhova, who posted the fastest second-run time on a course set by her coach, Livio Magoni. The Slovakian is the only skier beside Shiffrin to have won a women's World Cup slalom since the start of last season.
Attacking, flawless run
Carrying a lead of 1.34 over Vlhova from the opening run, Shiffrin started fast in her final run but briefly lost control, a mistake which reduced her advantage by a half-second.
Shiffrin quickly regained her rhythm and, even though it looked like she avoided taking further risks, she extended her lead again to well over a second.
The American had already awed her rivals by taking a big opening-run lead, as she used an attacking yet flawless run to finish more than a second ahead of her nearest competitors.
Racing sixth, Shiffrin crushed the times of earlier starters, and beat then-leader Holdener by 1.15 seconds.
Sitting in the leader box, the Swiss skier looked to the video wall with a smile of disbelief and a brief shake of the head when Shiffrin crossed the finish.
A men's World Cup slalom om the same hill is scheduled for Sunday.