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Mikaela Shiffrin ends her homecoming with slalom gold at the Killington Cup

Mikaela Shiffrin was elated after winning her sixth Killington Cup slalom and her second slalom of the World Cup season.Sean M. Haffey/Getty

KILLINGTON, Vt. — Mikaela Shiffrin captured her 90th World Cup victory at the Killington Cup Sunday, topping the leaderboard on both runs to win the slalom competition.

The 28-year-old charged out of the gate in her first run in the morning portion of the event and answered the bell in the afternoon following a tremendous second run from her longtime slalom rival, Petra Vlhova. The Slovakia star ended up in second place by 0.33 seconds. Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener, who tied for the slalom win at Killington in 2022, finished third (1.37 seconds adrift of Shiffrin’s pace).

“It was a tough second run,” Shiffrin said. “It was totally different from the first run. Quite a bit more turn-shape in the course, and just a really different feeling under your feet.”

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Despite the difficulties, the former New England resident gave the home fans plenty to cheer about by adding to her all-time lead in World Cup wins. It began with a deliberate intent to be more aggressive early in her first run, something Shiffrin said hasn’t always been a theme for her performances at the Vermont event over the years.

“The start is really intriguing here,” Shiffrin explained. “It’s an adventure because it’s not steep yet, but it’s actually quite fast, and you have to push if it’s totally flat. It’s a weird kind of hill, and it’s hard to strike the balance of making really clean turns, but not going overboard as well. I don’t always nail it up there, and this year it was a pretty big focus to set my rhythm right off the bat.”

The strategy paid off, as she notched one of the fastest splits in the first part of the course. It enabled her to have more speed built up on the lower portion (held once again on Killington’s Superstar trail), where she recorded the quickest times at each of the final two intervals.

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Vlhova was third after her first run, trailing both Shiffrin and Germany’s Lena Duerr. Faced with a 0.28-second deficit, the 28-year-old initially appeared to have crafted the perfect response. Where other racers struggled on a more challenging second alignment of the course in the afternoon, she crossed the finish line with a 1.04-second lead over Holdener.

“My second run was much better. First run, to be honest I don’t know why, but it was not so good from my side,” Vlhova said. “So I knew on the second run, I had to push and I had to give everything.”

Forced to produce another strong run to answer her rival, Shiffrin — who joked in a prerace press conference about potentially needing to “pull a rabbit out of a hat” — conjured another piece of skiing magic. She drew on the strength of the always-vocal Killington crowd (which, according to resort officials, totaled 34,000 spectators over the course of the weekend).

“I hear the reaction. I don’t know if I’m ahead or behind though,” she said of her midrace mind-set. “So I always try to take the mentality that if I can hear the crowd, I’m actually going slower, so I need to pick up my pace. I just assume that so I don’t ever back off.”

It’s Shiffrin’s sixth slalom victory at Killington, and her second of the season after winning in Levi, Finland, earlier this month.

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Alongside Shiffrin, the crowd roared its approval of US racer (and former University of Vermont standout) Paula Moltzan, who fought through a gutsy second run to finish eighth.


Hayden Bird can be reached at hayden.bird@globe.com.