ZAGREB: Petra Vlhova claimed a riveting World Cup women's slalom in Croatia's capital on Tuesday to deny second-placed Mikaela Shiffrin a record 47th win in any single discipline after finishing half a second ahead of her rival.
Slovakian Vlhova, who has now won four of the season's five slaloms, produced a pair of flawless runs, the second under the most intense pressure as she was the last to weave her way down the hill after Shiffrin had jumped into pole position.
Shiffrin, who returned to action after missing two events following a positive COVID-19 test, had hoped to break Ingemar Stenmark's record but she remains tied with the former Swedish men's great who has 46 giant slalom wins.
Vlhova was delighted after seeing off her rivals on a difficult course littered with leaves from the nearby woods, with the snow deteriorating due to warm weather and a strong wind which forced the organisers to remove the finish-line banner.
"I just wanted to ski cleanly through the gates knowing that a lot of the girls had problems," she told Eurosport.
"It was really tough because the conditions were not so perfect. The Zagreb course is also a really long one so you need to find some extra breathing at the bottom.
"I feel really happy and confident, winning in a row is not easy because there is a lot of pressure from outside but I am trying to have one big bubble around me and enjoy my skiing."
The outcome will also be a major confidence boost for last season's overall World Cup winner Vlhova ahead of the Feb. 4-20 Beijing Olympics, where she will aim for her first-ever medal at the Games.
Vlhova tops the season's slalom standings on 480 points, 140 ahead of second-placed Shiffrin who leads the overall World Cup on 830 points. Vlhova is second on 715 points and Italian Sofia Goggia third on 657.
Austrian Katharina Liensberger came in third 2.11 seconds off the pace after a fifth-placed finish in the first run, edging Wendy Holdener out of a podium finish after the Swiss slipped one place down to fourth.
Canadian Ali Nullmayer jumped from 17th in the first run to a fifth-placed finish as she registered the best second run of all competitors.
The women's World Cup season continues with a giant slalom on Saturday and Sunday's slalom in Slovenia's Kranjska Gora.