It was a tale of two victories at tonight’s parallel city event in Stockholm, Sweden. On the men’s side, German Linus Strasser emerged as victor among a field loaded with the top names to claim his first-ever World Cup victory and podium. Meanwhile American tech ace Mikaela Shiffrin earned her 28th Audi FIS World Cup win and her 40th podium.
Strasser, who was a late replacement for teammate Felix Neureuther, entered the competition with bib 15, setting up a tough first round match-up against Norwegian slalom king Henrik Kristoffersen. But Kristoffersen went down in the first round, just like his main slalom rival Marcel Hirscher (AUT), paving the way for the rest of the field. Strasser had yet another had test in the semi-finals against hometown hero Mattias Hargin, but he made it past that obstacle, much to the disappointment of the massive sell out crowd, to move onto the finals.
One last hurdle awaited Strasser, Frenchman Alexi Pinturault, who was his toughest match of the evening as the two matched each other turn for turn. In the end, Strasser edged Pinturault and skied away with his first World Cup win. Hargin ultimately finished third.
"I am here instead of Felix because of his knee and he said, ‘Come on, boy. That’s your chance. You’re in it to win it,’ and I took my chance," said Strasser. “Yeah, you know, it goes so fast, and then in the next moment you’re standing in the finals against Alexis (Pinturault) and that feels amazing. And then I thought, ‘Alright, now you’re in the final. Now, you have a chance to win it’ and yeah, so I did.”
Shiffrin had an equally difficult path to her win. In the first round, Shiffrin had to swerve to avoid a near collision with Adeline Baud Mugnier (FRA). After surviving that scare, Marie-Michele Gagnon (CAN) was Shiffrin’s next victim, setting up the semi-final showdown against crowd favorite Frida Hansdotter (SWE). Once again, the Swedish fans had to settle for the disappointment of seeing their favorite knocked out of the finals.
Shiffrin met Veronika Velez Zuzulova (SVK) in the final and continued to be flawless as she cruised to her first ever City Event victory. Additionally, Shiffrin picked up valuable points in the hunt for the overall World Cup title as her biggest competition Lara Gut (SUI) sat out tonight’s race. Nina Loeseth of Norway finished third.
“Yeah, I mean, it was a great show tonight. I think everybody enjoyed it. We could here you (the fans) screaming. It was really fun," said Shiffrin. "I trained a little bit of slalom and trained a little super-G in the same day and then I went and raced and the conditions there (Cortina) were perfect, so it was a great day to just go for it. Today, yeah, I don’t know, I just trained a little this morning, and tried to do it. I came here for a reason, so happy to get that crossed off the list."
Tonight’s city event was the last on the World Cup tour before the World Championships begin in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Two weeks of action await the alpine ski world when action kicks off on February 6th.