Women’s Slalom – Levi 2018

Women’s Slalom – Levi 2018

With the 1st race of the 2018/19 World Cup season in Sölden behind us, we are closing into the 2nd race in Levi, where we will have a chance to see Female athletes competing in the first Slalom race of the season. First, let’s look at the previous Giant Slalom race in Sölden and how it went.

The opening race of the season took place at a well-known venue in Sölden, more specifically the Rettenback glacier on 27th of October 2018. The race started as planned although the visibility was not as great as we would have hoped, due to snow and low clouds. The conditions were far from optimal, which forced the organizers to lower the start gate, which reduced the run times to about a minute. Despite the lowered start gates, we saw huge margins separating the racers, as only 10 racers managed to stay within 2s of Brignone leading 1st run. In the end, the margin was even bigger, as a deficit of 3s or more would see the athletes finishing 10th or higher. Conditions like that truly separate the best ski races from all other.

We saw Tessa Worley winning her 1st race in Sölden, after finishing her 1st run at 3rd place, Brignone ended up at 2nd place (1st place in the 1st run) and the Olympic GS champion Mikaela Shiffrin at a respectable 3rd place. The win in Sölden was the start of Worley’s attempt of winning back the World Cup title in GS discipline, which she lost last year to Viktoria Rebensburg by 92 points due to the last race of the season being canceled because of bad weather. Winning in Sölden, however, did not only give her the much-needed points in GS Standings but a huge morale boost as well. This race is considered one of the hardest in the season in addition to being the 1st race of the season, so winning here is regarded highly important and a huge accomplishment.

Now let’s focus on the next race on the calendar, the Women’s Slalom in Levi, Finland, which will take place on 16th November 2018. Lapland, the northernmost Finish region could also be called a “winter wonderland”. A perfect location for any snow enthusiasts and even those who still believe in Santa Claus, as it is said he lives in Rovaniemi, a town in Lapland. So if you are traveling there to meet Santa and tell him your wishes, you might as well stop in Levi to watch the 2nd race of the FIS Alpine skiing. Levi Ski resort is the northernmost location of the alpine skiing World Cup tour and has been in the World Cup calendar since 2004. It also holds the opening Slalom race for both Men and Women ever since 2006. The races here are usually held mid-November, as January-February proven to be too cold (average -20°C / -4°F). Up until now, Levi hosted a total of 13 races for Women since 2004. Maria Reisch (Höfl-Reisch) holds the most wins at this venue (3) from 2004, 2009 and 2012 and a total of 7 podium finishes. Levi is also a venue where only 3 athletes won on more than one occasion; Maria Höfl-Reich (3), Marlies Schild (2) and Mikaela Shiffrin (2).

Looking at last year’s race at Levi Ski resort, it was Petra Vlhova who won, with 0.10s ahead of Mikaela Shiffrin and 1.35s ahead of Wendy Holdener. The 3 mentioned racers also stood on the podium a year prior (2016), with Mikaela Shiffrin finishing 1st, Wendy Holdener 2nd and Petra Vlhova 3rd. At this point, I must also mention, a win here for Vlhova would mean she would become the first athlete to win back-to-back in Levi.

Let’s take a look at bookmakers’ favorites at Women’s Slalom race in Levi.

Athlete Pinnacle Odds Bet365 Odds Pinnacle Odds (vs the Field)
Mikaela Shiffrin 1.645 1.83 2.16
Wendy Holdener 5.13 5.00 1.142
Petra Vlhova 5.34 5.00 1.133
Frida Hansdotter 6.22 6.00 1.100

Mikaela Shiffrin has won 3rd most World Cup races in slalom for women (32), has a total of  5 slalom crystal globes (which is only 1 shy of women’s record of 6 slalom globes) and has a spectacular record last season, when she won 7/9 slalom races, with only 2 exceptions; DNF in Lenzerheide and as mentioned the 2nd place in Levi. As for her previous performances at this venue, she has won twice (2013 and 2016), which means a win here tomorrow would mean she would tie with Maria Reich for the most wins at Levi Ski resort. It’s clear she is a spectacular athlete, especially when it comes to Slalom races, as she was nearly undefeatable last season, so it would be fair to say she is considered a huge favorite everytime a slalom race comes up on the calendar.

Petra Vlhova has a chance to go into history as the first athlete to win in Levi twice in a row, and she just might be able to achieve it, if she manages to defeat Mikaela Shiffrin. Weirdly enough, 2 slalom race wins for Vlhova last season were the only 2 Mikaela Shiffrin failed to win. So in that regard, it seems like Vlhova wins the races Mikaela fails to. A win here would not only make her the first woman to ever win twice in a row but would also become the 4th woman to win in Levi more than once. Vlhova has a lot to prove and with a historic race like that we expect her to give her best, but the question remains, will she be faster than Mikaela Shiffrin?

With a total of 32 World Cup podiums in the slalom ranks Frida Hansdotter on the 9th place for the most slalom podium finishes of all time. Looking at the last 7 World Cup slalom races, we saw Frida Hansdotter on the podium all 7 times. She ended 2nd twice and on the 3rd place 5 times. Last season she finished 3rd in Slalom standings, 299 points behind Mikaela Shiffrin. Her results are good, but we feel like she could perform better. At the end of the day, she has won slalom crystal globe in 2015/16 season, 85 points ahead of Veronika Velez-Zuzulova. In addition to that, Hansdotter won a gold medal in Slalom at the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. With her 32 years (and 339 days), Frida Hansdotter could become the oldest woman to win a slalom race in the World Cup, if she manages to do so in Levi. This record currently belongs to Marlies Schild (32 years 212 days). Even if she does not win, a podium finish would mean she would be the oldest woman to finish in the top 3, since Schild (32 years 288 days).

Despite Wendy Holdener’s silver medal in the Olympic games in Peyongchang and 17 podium finishes in World Cup slalom races, this Austrian racer has yet tasted victory. It just seems like she is unlucky, as no other racer has claimed more than 8 World Cup podium finishes in slalom without a win. So at least she is holding a record for the “unluckiest woman”. There is also Hubert Strolz who had finished on podium 18 times without a win in men’s giant slalom. Despite her unlucky runs, Wendy Holdener finished 2nd in last season’s World Cup slalom standings, 275 points behind Mikaela Shiffrin. She could also end Switzerland’s winning drought, as the last Swiss woman to win a slalom race in World Cup was Marlies Öster in 2002. This is by far the longest winning drought of any nation in World Cup slalom for women. Switzerland will be hoping to see Wendy winning the race in Levi, but her biggest obstacle will be Mikaela Shiffrin. Out of 43 slalom races where we saw Shiffrin and Holdener both racing, Wendy won only twice; in 2013 (12th  v 9th) and in 2017 when Holdener defeated Shiffrin at Olympic games in slalom discipline.

Much like Switzerland, Austria is also suffering from winning drought in slalom, the only difference being that Austria has seen their athlete winning in 2014 (Nicole Hosp), whereas Switzerland did so in 2002! Anyhow, a winning drought needs to end, and Austria is hoping for Bernadette Schild to be the right woman for the job. Schild finished the last season 5th in Slalom standings, 517 behind Mikaela Shiffrin and 242 points from the top 3. This was her best result in slalom, as well as the best overall standings in her career.

We did not mention all the athletes who will race in Levi, but only a few favorites, who are most likely to win. However even looking at them, there is a huge gap between Mikaela Shiffrin and others. Mikaela Shiffrin has proven to be exceptionally good in slalom with her last season’s performances. Only by looking at Slalom standings at the end of 2017/18 the season, she was 275 points ahead of 2nd placed Holdener. A year prior, Mikaela Shiffrin ended the season with the same margin (275 points) ahead of Veronika Velez-Zuzulova. So it’s safe to say, she is dominating this discipline and we expect her to continue doing so. We would be surprised if any other athlete can come close to form Mikaela is in at the moment. We are not saying it’s impossible, but it’s just not likely from what we have seen so far. Expect Mikaela Shiffrin to win her first race of the season and start her journey towards her 6th Slalom Crystal globe.

Market Prediction Odds Stake Won / Lost
Outright Mikaela Shiffrin 1.83 Bet365 2 Units Won
Podium Finish – No Frida Hansdotter 1.80 Bet365 2 Units Won
H2H (Holdener vs Hansdotter) Wendy Holdener 1.78 Bet365 2 Units Lost