Swiss skier Gisin ends Shiffrin-Vlhova winning slalom streak

SEMMERING, Austria (AP) — Michelle Gisin earned her maiden World Cup win on Tuesday, becoming the first Swiss skier to win a women’s slalom in nearly 19 years.

Gisin trailed Mikaela Shiffrin by two-hundredths of a second after the opening run but posted the second-fastest time in the final as the American dropped to third, 0.57 behind.

Gisin’s win ended a streak of 28 slaloms that were won by either Shiffrin, who triumphed 19 times, or Petra Vlhova. That streak started in January 2017.

“I broke the incredible run of two giants,” Gisin said. “It’s a perfect day.”

Vlhova was nearly nine-tenths off the pace in sixth after the first run before the Slovakian skier, who leads Gisin in both the overall and the slalom standings, improved to fourth with an attacking final run.

Vlhova had won all five slaloms since Shiffrin last won in Lienz, Austria, one year ago.

“I admire them since many years,” said Gisin, adding that her win “helps us to see that we got closer and it’s a fight again. It’s not just like we have two goddesses and we are just trying not to lose too much time. But we can fight for it. They improved the way we ski so have to be very grateful to them.”

Katharina Liensberger posted the fastest time in the final run and the Austrian trailed Gisin by 0.11 in second.

“It’s crazy. It’s just amazing,” Gisin said. “My first victory exactly eight years after my first race in the World Cup, exactly at the same place. I am just so happy.”

It was the first slalom win for the Swiss women’s team since Marlies Oester shared victory with Kristina Koznick of the United States at a race in Berchtesgaden, Germany, in January 2002.

The Swiss drought lasted for 162 slaloms.

“It’s good that Wendy (Holdener) and I won’t be asked about winning slaloms anymore,” said Gisin, referring to her Swiss teammate.

Holdener has racked up 24 podium finishes in slalom without winning one. No other skier, male or female, has more top-three results in any discipline without a win.

Holdener finished Tuesday’s race in fifth.

Gisin had nine previous podium results on the World Cup but was lacking a victory.

However, she won Olympic gold in the combined event in Pyeongchang in 2018, four years after her sister, Dominique Gisin, shared victory with Tina Maze in the Olympic downhill from Sochi.

“I am super happy for Michelle,” Shiffrin said. “I’m really happy to see Michelle skiing like that, and like really earning this win. It’s been like a long time coming so it’s nice to see that.”

The last racer on course, Shiffrin lost time on Gisin from the start. She was three-tenths behind the Swiss’ time halfway through her run and failed to make up the deficit at the bottom part.

The result meant that Shiffrin failed to win a slalom in a whole calendar year for the first time since her maiden World Cup triumph in 2012.

“I would like to win, for sure, and I was really pushing, but sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” she said. “The night is not so bad.”

The American was grateful with a podium result to end the most difficult year of her career, which included a 10-month break following the dead of her father, Jeff Shiffrin, in February.

“There is a lot of positive things to take from today. It’s a process going step by step,” said Shiffrin, who admitted she felt uncomfortable while waiting for her final run.

“I didn’t mange it very great but also, it wasn’t so bad. I was trying to bring good intensity, and sometimes it’s a little bit too much,” she said. “I try to remember how these things feel and it’s a good step in a good direction. Hopefully I can take that and keep moving in the right direction.”

Federica Brignone, who dethroned Shiffrin as overall champion last season, was 16th in the Italian’s weakest discipline.

Shiffrin’s American teammate Nina O’Brien scored a personal best in slalom, finishing ninth.

The floodlit slalom took place a day after strong winds had destroyed parts the finish area between two runs of a giant slalom as gusts blew away safety fencing and sponsor banners.

Workers rebuilt the setup at the bottom of the Zauberberg course early Tuesday.

The women’s World Cup continues with another slalom in Zagreb, Croatia, on Sunday.

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