Mikaela Shiffrin crowned youngest Snow Queen
ZAGREB, Croatia - Less than two weeks after celebrating her maiden World Cup victory in Are, Sweden, 17-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin confirmed her class and her strong nerves in front of 8,000 spectators capturing the most prestigious slalom race of the season at Zagreb-Sljeme where she finished over a second ahead of Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter while Canada’s Erin Mielzynski came in 3rd, her best result since her unexpected victory at the end of last season at Ofterschwang.
Slovenia’s Tina Maze, 2nd after the first leg, straddled a gate in the beginning of the second run failing to finish her first technical race this season after having reached thirteen podiums this winter including her five wins in giant slalom and Super-combined.
Norway’s Nina Loeseth who wore bib 42 was a strong 4th ahead of France’s newcomer Laurie Mougel and Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch. The recent winner at Semmering and Munich, Veronika Velez-Zuzulova, only 10th place at 1,54 seconds in the first run – skied out in the middle of her second run,
Mikaela was stunned.
Shiffrin was as speechless at the arrival at Sljeme as in Sweden after her first victory! “I still don’t know what to say to express my emotion, this is too much for me,” she said at first. “This means a lot to me,” she added.
The teenager also explained after the race that she tried to imitate Marlies Schild that she saw here winning the race for the fourth time in her career. “I thought about Marlies prior my second run and aimed to remain as cool as concentrated as she was here when she won,” she also said. With this new victory, Mikaela also regained the lead in the slalom standings prior the next slalom at Flachau in two weeks.
Rising Star Mikaela Shiffrin who overcame a bad cold in recent days achieved quite an impressive performance today dominating her rivals in both runs. In the opening leg, she beat by 35/100 of a second Slovenia’s World Cup leader Tina Maze while Sweden’s Maria Pietilae-Holmner came in 3rd with a delay of 72/100 of a second on the leader. Maria also skied out in lower part of second run.
In Sweden, the American came from behind in her second run after finishing 2nd in the first one. This time, she was the last skier at the start, quite a tough situation for such a young athlete. Yet, she was able to ski with the same relaxed attitude as earlier in the afternoon and cruise with impressive smoothness and precision through the gates of the final run.
A group of top favorites including Kathrin Zettel and Michaela Kirchgasser from Austria, Manuela Moelgg from Italy or Therese Borssen from Sweden could not finish their first run.
An impressive winner ten days ago at Are, Sweden, Shiffrin had a hard time to immediately confirm her potential the following week at Semmering where she skied out in the second leg after clocking the 4th best time in the opening run. At only 17, the skier from Eagle/Vail, Colorado, is considered a true phenomenon on the women’s tour since her 3rd place finish a year ago at Lienz.
As her rivals, Mikaela is aware of the unique prestige of the VIP Snow Queen Trophy event at Sljeme where a crystal crown is awarded each year to the winner of the race who is allowed to seat on a splendid throne carried inside the finish area after the official award ceremony. “The ceremony was really special, I enjoyed it a lot,” she told the press afterwards.
The next women’s race is scheduled next week at St. Anton where a downhill and a Super-G are planned on the demanding course of the Arlberg resort. USA’s Lindsey Vonn plans to return on course at that occasion.