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Levi Slalom World Cup Opening Pre-Race Analysis

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 last World Cup races in Levi were a battle between three names: Mikaela Shiffrin, Petra Vlhova, and Wendy Holdener. The American, the Slovak and the Swiss are the favorites to win the double date of Levi.

Anna Swenn Larsson (4th in 2019, 6th in 2018, 7th in 2017, and did not finish the second run in 2016 after a 10 position in the first run) is the main challenger to the trio. The Austrians Katharina Liensberger, who finished third in the slalom rank last season, and Katharina Truppe or the Swiss Michelle Gisin are some of those destined to question the dominance of the main favorites in the “Levi Black” slope.

Last season the Austrian Wunderteam made a strong statement in the slalom season opener, putting five women in the top 15, and three women in the top ten despite the absence of one of their top technical skiers, Bernadette Schild. The charge was led by 23-year-old Katharina Truppe, who earned her first career World Cup podium in third. Her teammates, Katharina Liensberger and Katharina Huber, finished seventh and eighth respectively.

Director Christian Mitter of the OESV Team has called up Katharina Liensberger, Katharina Truppe, Katharina Gallhuber, Katharina Huber, Bernadette Schild, Chiara Mair, Franziska Gritsch, Bernadette Lorenz and Magdalena Egger (dominant at the last junior World Championships in Narvik who won gold in Downhill, Super-G and Combined, with the slalom that has not could play due to the Covid-19 outbreak) for the double slalom in Levi. The fact that there are two Women's races taking place in Levi this year is something that can determine the results especially on Sunday.

In 2013 Mikaela Shiffrin put down two outstanding runs and showed in Levi that she was then in a league of her own in Slalom. Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who was in third place after the first run climbed up one place to finish in second place, 1.06 seconds behind Shiffrin. Tina Maze finished third, crossing the finish line with a combined time 1.61 seconds slower than Shiffrin’s.

After leading the first run of the first slalom of the season, Mikaela Shiffrin was fourth in the second run but enough to finish ahead of Switzerland's Wendy Holdener and Petra Vlhova, who were respectively 0.67 and 0.75 seconds off the winning pace.

Slovakia’s Petra Vhlova picked up the 2017-2018 World Cup slalom season right where she left off the previous one, on the top of the podium. Vhlova turned on the jets to best American Mikaela Shiffrin by 0.10 seconds on the Levi Black slope in Finland. Sitting 0.21 seconds behind Shiffrin’s leading pace after run one, Vlhova powered into the top spot with a hard charge on her second run. Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener also pushed her limits on the second run and was rewarded with a move onto the podium in third place.

In 2018 Mikaela Shiffrin won her third reindeer and slalom race at Levi. Shiffrin dominated both slalom runs to finish ahead of Petra Vlhova and Bernadette Schild, who were respectively 0.58 and 0.79 seconds off the winning pace.

Last year, Shiffrin opened the season with a victory in Levi that saw her break the record number of wins. It was Shiffrin's 41st World Cup slalom win, moving one ahead of Ingemar Stenmark's tally of 40, putting her as the greatest slalom skier of all-time. The American Ski Star also became the first woman to win four times in Levi (2013, 2016, 2018, and 2019). Shiffrin was joined on the podium by Wendy Holdener and Katharina Truppe.

Again Petra Vlhova wasted no time in confirming her status as Mikaela Shiffrin's main rival as she took a slim lead over Mikaela Shiffrin in the opening run by 0.13, but she crashed out early in the second run giving the podium space to Wendy Holdener.


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