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Shiffrin Fourth in Zagreb; Three U.S. Women in the Top 20

By Courtney Harkins
January, 3 2021
Mikaela Fourth in Zagreb
Mikaela Shiffrin skis to fourth place in Zagreb, Croatia. (Getty Images/Pixsell/MB Media - Luka Stanzl)

Mikaela Shiffrin led the Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team women in the annual Zagreb night slalom, finishing just off the podium in fourth place. Paula Moltzan was 14th and Katie Hensien 18th.

While the ski world was on edge about the future of the Snow Queen Trophy race last week after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit the Croatian city, the Zagreb race organizers didn’t back down and pressed on to hold the FIS World Cup race only five days later. Under the lights, the women raced in springlike conditions, complete with sugary salted snow and even some rain first run. And neither earthquake nor sloppy snow could stop Petra Vlhova of Slovakia, who won her fourth race of the season. Katharina Liensberger of Austria was second and Michelle Gisin was third.

Mikaela, who was fourth after first run, put down a fast second run to leave her just .05 seconds off the podium. “Things are going in a good direction,” she said, referencing that it was only her sixth race back on the circuit after an extended break. “But it takes time and I always said that from the beginning: It’s not easy to win. Especially if you don’t have momentum, then it’s even harder. It’s always really hard work—hard mentally and I know that. I’m trying not to expect too much.”

However, Mikaela’s signature drive is still there—seen in her eyes and in her fast skiing. She had won in Zagreb four times before and can see herself on the top of the podium again. “I want to be there—on the podium and in the first spot—but it’s also greedy or arrogant to think I can just do it,” she said. “It’s strange because of the past 10 years, but at the same time, it’s normal for right now. I’m not sad.”

For now, she’ll take the fourth-place result and put some more time on her skis. Slalom requires hours and hours of work and Mikaela is still getting those miles under her feet. “Out of all the events, you have to ski a lot of slalom to be really strong,” she said. “I can be hopeful and positive, but also realistic. Fourth and three tenths out is okay. I had a better second run with fewer mistakes—maybe a little less risk, but some better position on my skis. I can take that and go with it.”

It was also an impressive day for the Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team women, with four athletes skiing in the second run—the first time since 2007 that four women made the flip. Paula Moltzan skied the third-fastest second run to take 14th overall—her best World Cup slalom result since 2019 when she was 12th in Flachau, Austria. Katie Hensien made a World Cup second run for the second time in a week and scored her first points, nailing a coveted top-20 result in 18th place. Nina O’Brien was 30th after first run, but straddled and did not finish.

Resi Stiegler and Lila Lapanja also raced but did not qualify for a second run.

Zagreb was just another example of the Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team showcasing its depth, with the men and women amassing 10 podiums across five different athletes so far this year, along with career-best results and first World Cup points for a number of athletes. This has been the strongest start to a season in this generation. Keep an eye on this team!

Next up, the men race a night slalom in Zagreb on January 6. The tech women have a short break before racing another night slalom in Flachau on January 12.   

Women’s slalom

All Times EST

Sunday, Jan. 3
3:00 p.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Women's Slalom - Same-Day Broadcast, Zagreb, CRO, Broadcast NBC
4:30 p.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Men's Downhill - Replay From Bormio, Italy, Bormio, ITA, Broadcast NBC
6:30 p.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Women's Slalom - Same-Day Broadcast, Zagreb, CRO, Broadcast NBCSN

Wednesday, Jan. 6
6:15 a.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Men's Slalom, run 1 - LIVE, Zagreb, CRO, Streaming Peacock
9:30 a.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Men's Slalom, run 2 - LIVE, Zagreb, CRO, Broadcast Olympic Channel
9:30 a.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Men's Slalom, run 2 - LIVE, Zagreb, CRO, Streaming Peacock

All streams will be available via desktop as well as mobile, tablet, and connected television platforms. The NBC Sports, Peacock TV, and Olympic Channel app are available on the Apple App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire.