BRATISLAVA (Dispatches) -- Slovak skier Petra Vlhova kicked off the new year with a dominant victory in the World Cup slalom race in Zagreb, bouncing back after having finished only fourth in her favorite discipline in the Austrian resort of Semmering on Tuesday.
After emerging on top after the first warm and wet run with a 0.32-second lead, 25-year-old Vlhova was the last to go down one of the longest slalom tracks of the season in the second run and immediately started increasing her lead.
However, in the lower section of the track Vlhova almost lost her balance and all of her lead. But last year’s winner managed to compose herself and crossed the finish line just 0.05s ahead of Katharina Liensberger of Austria.
Michelle Gisin, Vlhova’s top rival in the overall World Cup standings, finished third, 0.22 seconds back.
After her fourth slalom victory and two third-place finishes in the giant slalom this World Cup season, Vlhova stretched her lead in the slalom standings to 75 points, and she also leads Gisin in the overall standings by 128 points.
"I had to ski right at the limit, my opponents were attacking relentlessly and are very fast. I have to take risks and give it everything I got. I made a big mistake right at the end and I couldn’t believe I came in first. I thought I finished 11th and started cursing but then I looked at the board again and saw that I won. I am very proud of this achievement,” said Vlhova after the race.