Shiffrin finishes second on return after 10-month absence

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Mikaela Shiffrin finished second in the World Cup women's slalom race at Levi, following 10 months out of action
Mikaela Shiffrin finished second in the World Cup women's slalom race at Levi, following 10 months out of action

US ski star Mikaela Shiffrin shrugged off a near 10-month absence to finish second behind Petra Vlhova in the World Cup slalom at Levi in Finland on Saturday.

"It's been 300 days since she was last in the start gate, and she didn’t miss a beat," the US Ski and Snowboard Team tweeted.

The three-time overall World Cup winner was all set for a fourth consecutive overall World Cup title when she ended last season abruptly after the sudden death of her father.

A bad back then forced her to skip the season-opener in Soelden.

Shiffrin was just 15 hundredths of a second behind Slovakia'a Vlhova in the first run.

Vlhova, who capitalised on Shiffrin's absence earlier in the year by claiming the discipline crystal globe, was quickest again in the second run to finish 0.18 seconds ahead of Shiffrin overall and secure her 15th World Cup victory.

It was the 25-year-old Slovakian's 10th World Cup slalom win and her fourth in a row, three of which have come with Shiffrin in the field.

Behind the two favourites came Austrian Katharina Liensberger who finished 0.57 seconds behind Vlhova. The two Swiss challengers Wendy Holdener and Michelle Gisin came in fourth and fifth respectively.

Anna Swenn-Larsson, ranked fifth in the world in the event, was among the Swedish skiers who were not permitted to compete by Finnish authorities after their coach tested positive for coronavirus.

Vlhova, gold medallist in the giant slalom at the world championships in Are in 2019, leads the overall World Cup standings with 160 points, 47 ahead of the Italian Marta Bassino. Shiffrin is level fourth with 80 points.

The women face a second slalom race on Sunday.

rg/bsp/nr