Holdener’s wait for a slalom victory is finally over
KILLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Wendy Holdener’s lengthy wait for a slalom victory came to an end on Sunday although the Swiss skier had to share top spot with Anna Swenn Larsson.
Mikaela Shiffrin was bidding for a sixth straight win in Killington, Vermont, and the American was fastest in the first run but finished fifth, 0.59 seconds behind the winning duo.
It was Holdener’s first slalom win after finishing 30 times on the podium for the unwanted record of most World Cup podium finishes without a win in the discipline.
“It does taste sweet, but in an hour or two it will be even more crazy,” the 29-year-old Holdener said. “I love skiing, and I try to never forget to have fun, because I had years where it was not that easy. I didn’t always have fun ski racing. So I’m happy that I’m skiing good and I can fight for wins.
“I was thinking maybe we have a chance, because it’s not that easy to ski, it’s a little bit bumpy. I fought really hard for this one.”
It was a first individual World Cup success for the 31-year-old Swenn Larsson of Sweden.
“I am so happy. I have a lot of emotions, it is a dream come true,” she said. “I fought really hard for this one, I’ve been fighting for it my whole life.
“I am proud. To beat Mikaela — I didn’t do it many times in my life. She is an inspiration, she is the best skier, so it feels amazing.”
Holdener had finished the first run 0.21 seconds behind Shiffrin. When Holdener crossed the line to find she had exactly matched Swenn Larsson’s combined time of 1 minute, 42.97 seconds, both skiers appeared shocked and delighted.
They then had to wait for Shiffrin, the overall World Cup champion, who was favorite to claim another win in Killington.
Shiffrin had won all five World Cup slaloms held there and also emerged victorious in the two season-opening slalom races last weekend to take her tally to 49 wins in the discipline.
Despite being cheered on by a passionate crowd, Shiffrin had a disappointing second run after losing time on the lower half of the course. She nevertheless was beaming as she embraced Holdener and Swenn Larsson, who had been clutching each other as they watched Shiffrin ski.
“I fought. I think some spots I got a little bit off my timing, but I was pushing, and that’s slalom,” Shiffrin said. “Wendy and Anna they finally got their first win and it’s a tie. It’s a pretty special day, actually.”
While Shiffrin hails from Vail, Colorado, she can almost consider Killington a hometown race as she honed her skills nearby at the Burke Mountain Academy as a teenager.
Katharina Truppe of Austria was third — 0.22 behind Holdener and Swenn Larsson — and ahead of Olympic champion and last season’s World Cup slalom winner Petra Vlhová.
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