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Shiffrin takes World Cup slalom for personal-best 13th win

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MARIBOR, Slovenia (AP) — Mikaela Shiffrin won the last women’s World Cup slalom before the world championships on Saturday for her personal-best 13th victory of the season.

“I am really proud of this whole season. My team has done a great job. And here we are,” the two-time overall champion said. “It’s hard to put it into words,”

Shiffrin built on a commanding lead of a full second after the opening run to win the race by 0.77 ahead of Anna Swenn Larsson of Sweden, who earned her first podium in her 100th World Cup start.

Wendy Holdener of Switzerland was 1.15 behind in third for her 20th career slalom podium without winning — a World Cup record.

Olympic slalom champion Frida Hansdotter of Sweden was 1.34 behind in fourth, while Shiffrin’s main rival, Petra Vlhova of Slovakia, was second after the opening run but dropped to fifth, 1.70 off the lead.

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Shiffrin bettered her best mark from last year of 12 victories in a single season. Only Swiss great Vreni Schneider has won more races in a one season — 14 in 1988-89.

With five technical events, two super-G races and an Alpine combined event remaining after the worlds, Shiffrin is a strong favorite to overtake Schneider.

“I think, for some people watching it feels like I am used to it but I’m not,” Shiffrin said after winning two races in two days, following her shared victory with Vlhova in Friday’s giant slalom.

“It’s always a fight. Every race is a fight. There is always something that I have to battle: it’s the other racers, it’s the conditions, it’s also my own mentality,” she added. “So I am always really thankful and happy for this kind of weekends.”

Shiffrin certainly had to overcome tough conditions on Saturday. Spring-like weather with mild temperatures softened the top layer of the Radvanje course.

“It was quite warm today,” she said. “The second (run) was pretty OK but for sure I was trying to control a bit what I was doing.”

Winning both races made the American the obvious winner of the Golden Fox, a prize local organizers award to the best skier of the weekend, adding the GS and slalom results.

Shiffrin also won both the GS and slalom last year, when weather forced organizers to move the race to another Slovenian resort, Kranjska Gora.

“It’s cool. It’s something unique,” Shiffrin said. “The first time I won the Golden Fox (in 2015) I was thinking, ‘Oh yeah, I am starting to be more than just a slalom skier.’ That was a nice thing.”

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In two weeks, Shiffrin will be aiming for a record fourth straight slalom world title at the championships in Are, Sweden.

A day after receiving physical therapy following her shared victory with Vlhova in a giant slalom, Shiffrin was at her best in her strongest discipline. She clenched her fists as soon as she saw her finishing time on a large video screen after her near-flawless opening run, and celebrated with her right arm in the air after wrapping up the victory few hours later.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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