Levi's Slalom World Cup Opening Races Preview
In 2004, the first Alpine World Cup race took place in Levi, a premiere on Finnish soil. Since then, the slalom competitions in the province of Lapland have been a fixed point on the FIS racing calendar.
The fact that again there are two Women's races taking place in Levi this year is something that can determine the results especially on Sunday.
Levi will be a battle between three names: Mikaela Shiffrin, Petra Vlhova, and Katharina Liensberger. The Slovak and the Austrian are the favorites to win the Slalom double event.
Petra Vlhová finished in the top three of the World Cup slalom standings in each of the previous three seasons: second in 2018-2019, first in 2019-2020, and third in 2020-2021.
Vlhová has claimed 12 World Cup wins in the slalom, ranking her in ninth place on the women's list. Pernilla Wiberg is in eighth place with 14 wins.
Petra Vlhova won silver in Slalom at the 2021 World Championships in Cortina d'Ampezzo.
Petra Vlhová won the overall crystal globe in the 2020-2021 World Cup, making her the first skier representing Slovakia to claim the men's or women's overall.
Last season, Katharina Liensberger became the first Austrian woman since Marlies Schild in the 2011-2012 season to win the Slalom Crystal Globe.
Liensberger also claimed the Women's Slalom World Title at the world championships in Cortina d'Ampezzo. She also joined Schild (2010-2011) as the only Austrian woman to win the slalom world title and crystal globe in the same season.
She won the two most recent slalom events held in the World Cup, in Åre on 13 March and in Lenzerheide on 20 March. Those were her first World Cup victories.
Liensberger's worst result in a World Cup slalom event last season was fourth place in Jasná on 6 March. She finished on the podium in all of the other eight World Cup slalom events.
Mikaela Shiffrin has won 70 World Cup events, 45 in the slalom. Only Ingemar Stenmark (46 in Giant Slalom) has achieved as many World Cup wins in a single discipline.
In her last 52 World Cup Slalom participations, Shiffrin finished on the podium 48 times (36 wins).
Shiffrin has claimed a record four World Cup wins in Levi, winning the Slalom in 2013, 2016, 2018, and 2019.
She won three successive Slalom globes on two occasions, from 2012-2013 to 2014-2015 and from 2016-2017 to 2018-2019. Shiffrin has equaled Vreni Schneider on a women's record six Slalom crystal globes.
Switzerland's Michelle Gisin (4) and Wendy Holdener (3) were among the five women to claim a World Cup slalom podium in the 2020-2021 season alongside Katharina Liensberger, Mikaela Shiffrin, and Petra Vlhová.
Gisin won the slalom in Semmering on 29 December 2020 ending a World Cup-winning run of 28 by Mikaela Shiffrin (19) and Petra Vlhová (9) in this discipline.
Wendy Holdener has collected 27 World Cup podium finishes in the slalom but has yet to claim her first victory. This is currently the record for most World Cup podiums in a single discipline without winning. Only two women have finished second in a World Cup slalom event more often than Holdener (13): Frida Hansdotter (17) and Pernilla Wiberg (14) but both Hansdotter (4 wins) and Wiberg (14) has achieved slalom victories in the World Cup.
Lena Dürr, 6th in the Slalom standings last season, is hoping to claim Germany's first World Cup podium spot in a women's slalom since 29 December 2013, when Maria Höfl-Riesch finished third in Lienz.
Andreja Slokar winner of the Parallel in Lech last weekend, finished fifth in the Women's Slalom at the World Championships in Cortina d'Ampezzo.
Last year, Petra Vlhova opened the season with back-to-back victories in Levi. Three out of Four runs have been won by the Slovakian star who increased the fluidity and consistency gate after gate.
Vlhova also won the Levi slalom in 2017. Only Mikaela Shiffrin (4), Maria Höfl-Riesch (3), Petra Vlhova (3), and Marlies Schild (2) have won multiple women's World Cup slalom events in Levi.
Katharina Liensberger collected two third places in two days, and she established herself as the new Austrian tech team leader. She set the best time in the second run on Sunday's race, the only time Vlhova was beaten.
The Ski Racing Podcast. Lech's Parallel Review and Levi's Preview