Tuesday Night Lights in Flachau
The White Circus moves onward, from Zagreb, Croatia to Flachau, Austria for the highly anticipated night slalom under the lights. So, we move from “Snow Queen” to “Snow Space Salzburg Princess,”—a title Mikaela Shiffrin (Avon, Colo.) has enjoyed three times before, in 2013, 2014 and 2018.
Shiffrin will look to sparkle once again under the lights at Flachau, in front of 15,000+ screaming and glühwein-imbibing Austrian ski fans, foaming at the mouth to see the best female slalom skiers in the world take on the Hermann Maier FIS World Cup run. This is Austria, my friends, where skiing is a religion and ski racers are gods and goddesses. Floodlights will fall upon the slope named for the legendary Maier, and the best will be crowned princess, and take home the largest prize purse on the FIS Ski World Cup circuit for women.
Shiffrin's got a target on her back, and it's not just Slovakia's Petra Vlhova that's aiming for her. Vlhova has finished second to Shiffrin in all five slalom events this season. She laid down the fastest time in Saturday evening's second run at Zagreb, Croatia by a mere .09 seconds, but with a blazing fast first run with a 1.34-second lead—there was no chance for Vlhova, despite a massive mistake by Shiffrin in the middle of the course. Sweden's Frida Hansdotter loves Flachau, and has two victories on the track. And then there's the Swiss, Wendy Holdener, who collected 19 World Cup podiums in slalom, but has yet to claim her first victory. This is currently the record for most World Cup podiums in a single event without winning. That's a hard one to swallow, and to say she wants the victory badly would be a gross understatement.
Last year in Flachau, Shiffrin found herself in an unfamiliar position—second to Austrian Bernadette Schild, who was perfectly poised to become a hometown hero under the lights. In fact, Shiffrin trailed Schild by a .37-second margin going into second run—which is a massive deficit for Shiffrin and something she was definitely not used to. Though it may be challenging to have a target on your back, it's even more concerning if you're the one Shiffrin is aiming for...and Shiffrin used that as motivation to beat Schild by a whopping 1.31 seconds, and therefore the victory by .94 seconds overall. Wow. Talk about domination.
Shiffrin is fully aware that she has some stiff competition this season, and you'll want to pay close attention, as she will be gunning for it Tuesday night, under the lights. What's on tap for Shiffrin Tuesday night?
Shiffrin Statistics - Flachau (courtesy of Gracenote Olympic/International Ski Federation):
- Mikaela Shiffrin has won the last seven World Cup slalom races. She could equal the all-time women's record of eight successive slalom victories in the World Cup, set by Vreni Schneider from 1988 to 1989 and equalled by Janica Kostelic from 2000 to 2001.
- Shiffrin has won a women's record 37 slalom events on the World Cup. On the men's side, only Ingemar Stenmark (40) has won more World Cup slalom events.
- Shiffrin has won 12 of the last 13 World Cup slalom races, with the only exception the race in Lenzerheide (28 January 2018) where she failed to finish her second run (winner Petra Vlhová).
- Shiffrin can become the third woman to win the first six slalom races of a World Cup season after Kostelic (first 8 in 2000/01) and Schneider (all 7 in 1988/89).
- Shiffrin has collected 52 World Cup race wins in total, seventh most all-time. Schneider (55) and Hermann Maier (54) are in fifth and sixth place respectively.
- Shiffrin has won three World Cup races in Flachau (all slalom), a joint record among men and women, alongside Janica Kostelic.
- Shiffrin has claimed seven World Cup slalom victories in Austria, equal to Schneider and only trailing Marlies Schild (9) for most among women.
- Shiffrin has won 10 World Cup races in total in Austria, one shy of the women's record of 11 held by Schild, Lindsey Vonn, Renate Götschl and Annemarie Moser-Pröll.
- Shiffrin has claimed 20 podium finishes in ladies' World Cup events in Austria, one fewer than record holders Götschl and Moser-Pröll (21).
Joining Shiffrin in Flachau will be Paula Moltzan (Prior Lake, Minn.), who also skis for the University of Vermont, and has shown some significant promise this season. Not only has Moltzan scored in Killington (17th place), Vermont and Courchevel, France (15th), but she also laid down the 12th fastest run on Saturday in Zagreb before straddling and DNFing second run. Hailing from the Buck Hill, and coached as a young athlete by the legendary Erich Sailer, Moltzan became the first American woman to win slalom gold at World Junior Championships, in 2015 at Hafjell, Norway. Guess who else was in that race? None other than Vlhova. Moltzan is extremely happy to be skiing on the collegiate circuit, but also really enjoying being back on the World Cup again. Fun fact: Moltzan scored her first World Cup points in Flachau in January of 2016, finishing 25th.
"It's been really fun to be here—the U.S. Ski Team has been really helpful at the races, integrating me into their program, which has been really nice and a huge help for me," Moltzan said after second run in Zagreb. "I'm pretty excited to be heading back to by college team [University of Vermont] and keep on racing back in the U.S. One more [in Flachau], first, before we head back—and I'm hoping to make that the best one."
Catch all of the action on NBC Sports Gold. See who to watch and where to catch all the action below.
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST.
Tuesday, Jan. 8
12:00 p.m. - Women’s slalom run 1 - Flachau, AUT - NBC Sports Gold
2:45 p.m. - Women’s slalom run 2 - Flachau, AUT - NBC Sports Gold
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