Vlhova edges Liensberger in slalom in Croatia; Shiffrin 4th

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Slovakia's Petra Vlhova celebrates as she arrives at the finish area of an alpine ski, women's World Cup Slalom, in Zagreb, Croatia, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta)

ZAGREB – Shortly after winning the first women's World Cup slalom of 2021 on Sunday, Petra Vlhova kneeled with her face down, torn between relief and disbelief.

The Slovakian skier's win came five days after her four-year-long joint winning streak with Mikaela Shiffrin ended.

In tough conditions due to fog and rain, the overall leader from Slovakia beat Katharina Liensberger of Austria by five-hundredths of a second.

Shiffrin was 0.27 behind in fourth, forced to wait for her 100th career World Cup podium, a milestone reached by only four female skiers in the 54-year history of the sport.

Leading after the first run, Vlhova thought she had squandered her chances in a rough final run with several mistakes on the deteriorating course.

“During my run, I thought, ‘OK, the race is done.’ But I found something inside, I pushed more and more and more until the finish,” she said. “It’s amazing and a really emotional victory.”

At a night race in Semmering last Tuesday, Michelle Gisin became the first skier other than Vlhova or Shiffrin to win a World Cup slalom in 29 races since January 2017, when Frida Hansdotter triumphed in Flachau.

Vlhova and Gisin are 1-2 in both the slalom and the overall standings.