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World Cup: Shiffrin, Ligety Have Rough Slalom Starts In Finland

Tina Maze at Levi

There’s no new reindeer to add to American slalom star Mikaela Shiffrin’s herd. Shiffrin had an uncharacteristically bad day at Levi, Finland where first prize is a reindeer. At least she could visit the reindeer she won last year and named Rudolph. Meanwhile, Sunday, Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety finished 18th, 3.33 seconds out on the men's first slalom of the season.

There’s no new reindeer to add to American slalom star Mikaela Shiffrin’s herd. Shiffrin had an uncharacteristically bad day at Levi, Finland where first prize is a reindeer. At least she could visit the reindeer she won last year and named Rudolph. Meanwhile, Sunday, Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety finished 18th, 3.33 seconds out on the men's first slalom of the season.

Shiffrin, the reigning Olympic slalom champion and defending World Cup slalom winner started well, but then became surprisingly conservative and the tough Levi Black steeps got the best of her. She fell 1.71 seconds back on the first run finishing 11th.

The latest reindeer belonged to Slovenian Tina Maze who won her fourth World Cup slalom, but first since 2013 after a disappointing season last year. Now she’s back in the hunt for the overall title ahead of Austrian Anna Fenniger, with Shiffrin holding onto the lead on the strength of a tie for a giant slalom in the season opener.

“I’m pretty disappointed in my skiing today,” Shiffrin said. “I feel like I’ve been training much, much faster than the way I raced today, especially the first run… The fact is I came into this race thinking I’m going to get another reindeer, and I’m skiing well in slalom. I took the competition for granted, and it’s a lesson to be learned for next time.”

Ligety let it go on the second run on the steeps with good, tactical skiing and had an amazing recovery, but that mistake cost him time. Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen laid down an aggressive and fast second run, beating his great rival and last year's winner Austria's Marcel Hirscher with an overall time of 1:50:39. American David Chodunsky finished 26th. 

In other news: Olympic champion Bode Miller will undergo outpatient back surgery Nov. 17 but is planning to return to the Audi FIS Ski World Cup in January based on the outcome of the surgery. Miller has been training in Austria and at Copper Mountain the past month but elected to have the surgery to alleviate pain and discomfort. He is hoping to still compete in the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships this February in Vail/Beaver Creek. The key races in January include downhills in Wengen, where he has won in the past, and Kitzbuehel, where he was third last season.

The men and women of the tour now head to North America with events at Lake Louise, Canada and Beaver Creek, Colo.

Photo: Slovenia's Tina Maze wins World Cup slalom at Levi, Finland (Sindi Thomas/Facebook)

 

 

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