ZAGREB (Reuters) - Mikaela Shiffrin was crowned a snow queen at 17 when she won the classic floodlit slalom in Zagreb on Friday to show she is not just a one-hit wonder.
The American teenager, who celebrated her maiden World Cup victory last month in Are, dominated both runs to win in two minutes and 1.73.
Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter was second, like in Are, a considerable 1.19 seconds adrift while Canada’s Erin Mielzynski, her country’s own slalom prodigy, finished third some 1.76 off the pace.
Totally dumbfounded when winning her first laurels in Sweden three weeks ago, Shiffrin again said she was unable to take in what was happening.
“After Are, I thought I’d be able to handle it the next time, but I‘m not,” she told reporters.
“I chose the same tactics of shutting down my brain and letting the skis go.”
Her exceptional technique paired with a relaxed approach worked wonders again, allowing her to claim back the red bib as the discipline’s World Cup leader.
“To be honest I didn’t know what it was when I took (the bib) for the first time in Are. Now I‘m just going to make sure I keep it clean,” she said.
Overall World Cup leader Tina Maze, who had finished on the podium in the last nine technical events she entered, failed to complete the course for the first time this season when she straddled a gate halfway down the second run.
“I was not nervous. I just attacked because I knew Shiffrin was the one to beat. I was lucky she went out in Semmering, now this is already behind me. I‘m not used to going out in slaloms and I will have no excuse next time,” the Slovenian said.
Maze retains an enormous 452-point lead in the overall World Cup standings over Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch.
Surprised by her immaculate performance after just recovering from ‘flu, Shiffrin also paid homage to last year’s winner Marlies Schild of Austria, currently out of action through injury.
“In the second run, I actually thought about Marlies, the way she skied the second leg last year. I shared that energy with her,” said the American, who received a coat, a crystal crown and a $78,300 check awarded to the winner.
Her only moment of doubt in a flawless display of class was when she found herself unable to open the bottle of champagne which was also part of the winner’s ceremony.
Editing by Mark Meadows; firstname.lastname@example.org; +44 20 7542 7933; Reuters Messaging:; email@example.com