Win number 11 for Vlhova as she edges it in Zagreb

After the first run had seen early racers benefit from the conditions, the second run saw the race turn into one of the most intriguing and exciting races of the season. Petra Vlhova emerged triumphant as she defended her race win from 2020 with Katharina Liensberger and Michelle Gisin joining her on the podium with Mikaela Shiffrin in fourth and Erin Mielzynski producing the second fastest run on the second run to go fifth.

Racers had two options at the start of the second run: They could ether attack the second run and hope to use the early conditions to post a fast time, or they could go conservatively and look to score World Cup points. Nastasia Noens was the first to take the challenge and the French racer was rewarded with the fastest second run time that saw her rise from 27th to 12th overall.

Noens has three podium finishes to her name in her career but the last one was back in 2016 in Crans Montana. In 2011 she had finished 6th in Zagreb but this was probably her most impressive performance for some time.

By the time Norwegian Kristin Lysdahl took the lead with 11 to go, the excitement was building. Lysdahl only stayed in the lead until Canadian Erin Mielzynski came down after her and then it was nip and tuck.

With 20 racers having gone down the course, there was a steady stream of ruts all the way down the course. Those that used the ruts to accelerate out of the turn were rewarded with speed. Yet the conditions were still playing an uneven game. As the course came over the rise before the pitch down into the finish, there was an uneven moment. A smooth icy turn on the right foot was causing all sorts of mischief with racers unable to catch the edge and scrubbing time. Those that carved through this gate benefited hugely.

Mielzynski held on to the lead until the top four started and Mikaela Shiffrin was the first to sit in the leaders enclosure. From then on it was a revolving door for those wanting to take the lead. It was not all plain sailing however. Shiffrin took a big lead ahead of Mielzynski, 1.13 but then Gisin went 0.05 ahead of the American.

Just went it looked as though Gisin would be still in the lead when Liensberger came over the ridge into the finish, the Austrian, Liensberger, found four tenths of a second in the final split to go 0.17 ahead of the Swiss, no second win for Gisin, just yet! Could Liensberger be the winner however?

Vlhova had used her early bib on the first run to great use to lead by 0.32 after the first run. With different conditions, a bumpier course and the pressure of leading the race and going down last, Vlhova left the start gate.

A mistake at the top refocussed her and then another in the mid section and she was starting to doubt whether she could do it. "When I crossed the line and saw 11 for the run time, I said no way am I even on the podium. Then I saw the number one and I was amazed," she explained after the race.

A poor performance by her standards in Semmering, where she finished fourth, had her doubting herself but she admitted that a message from Slovakian Slalom Star from yesteryear, Veronika Velez Zuzulova, gave her the confidence to fight and keep going.

Vlhova now has a lead of 65 points over Gisin in the Slalom standings after four of the nine races with Liensberger five points further back. The win also sees her go 128 points ahead of Gisin in the Overall standings. The big question now is will she look to race in the speed races at St Anton next or focus on the Slalom in Flachau?

Fog, rain, breaking snow and fantastic racing, the Snow Queen Trophy had it all.

No joy for Alex Tilley in terms of result but a promising top section saw her post the 29th fastest split on the first run before crashing out.

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