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Fit-again Shiffrin wins in Are to secure World Cup slalom title

American skier Mikaela Shiffrin returned from a six-week injury lay-off to win the women’s slalom in Are on Sunday and claim the discipline title for the eighth time.

Shiffrin, who turns 29 next week, is out of the running for the overall title but her 96th World Cup win brought some consolation as she pulled out a stunning second run to finish 1.24 seconds ahead of 20-year-old Croat Zrinka Ljutic with the Swiss Michelle Gisin in third. 

“It’s so good to be racing again today,” said an emotional Shiffrin after her victory. 

“I felt that stress again and all the emotions that go with it. I’m very proud of myself and all my team.”

“The second run was some of my best skiing.”

The German Lena Duerr was the only woman who could mathematically overhaul her in the slalom standings, as second-placed Petra Vljova has already called time on her season because of injury, but she could only manage fourth. 

With one race to go, Shiffrin tops the discipline standings with 730 points, 225 ahead of Vlhova who is still 13 points clear of Duerr.

Shiffrin has been out of action with knee and ankle injuries since a heavy crash at the end of January on the Olympia delle Tofane course in the Italian ski resort of Cortina, host to the 2026 Winter Olympics. 

But the American produced a fluid opening run of 49.94 seconds which was a mere 0.02sec ahead of Gisin.

Last out on the second run, Shiffrin pulled out all the stops, betraying the fact she only made her first “race intensity” outing since her crash last week.

“First run I felt I was pushing hard but not keeping up with the pace. This (second) run I wouldn’t change a thing,” said the most successful World Cup skier of all time.

No overall title

On Friday, Shiffrin, who won Olympic gold in slalom in 2014 and giant slalom four years later, said she would not be racing downhill or super-G before the end of the season and conceded that she could no longer win a sixth overall title.

She is now 345 points behind the leader Lara Gut-Behrami who did not race the slalom on Sunday.

“It’s incredible to compete with her (Gut-Behrami) or against her or to watch,” Shiffrin said during a video press conference on Friday.

“I love watching Lara ski. Unfortunately I also have to compete against her. This year I feel like Lara has really pushed the level of skiing.” 

Such an emphatic return with a record-extending 96th victory after a lengthy lay-off is testament to Shiffrin’s skill and her will. 

Some questioned her ability to come back after the crash in Italy but she never had any doubt. 

“It never crossed my mind that this would be the end of my career,” she said on Friday when she also revealed the torment of watching her boyfriend Aleksander Aamodt Kilde slam into the nets in Wengen at 120km/h.

The Norwegian was helicoptered to hospital with a bad cut and nerve damage to his right calf and two torn ligaments with a severe laceration in his dislocated right shoulder.

“It was a life or death situation for a good eight hours immediately after his crash,” she said. 

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