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Petra Vlhova of Slovakia posts with Santa Claus after winning the first women’s World Cup slalom of the season on Saturday in Levi, Finland.

Slovakian skier Petra Vlhova dominated the first women’s World Cup slalom of the season on Saturday by clearly winning both runs, with Mikaela Shiffrin finishing in fourth.

The American, who raced with a bruised left knee following a training crash last week, trailed Vlhova by 0.42 seconds after the opening run but ultimately finished 1.70 behind.

Lena Duerr of Germany was 1.41 behind in second and former slalom world champion Katharina Liensberger placed third for the Austrian’s first podium result in 15 slaloms since January 2022.

Vlhova, who is the Olympic champion in the discipline, became the sixth skier in women’s World Cup history to win 20 career World Cup slaloms.

Shiffrin said the training accident did not affect her in the race.

“It’s not perfect, but it’s not holding me back from skiing strong,” she said. “Last week, we did a really good job to push into a kind of training in the gym, trying different things, different loading. By Thursday, I was able to do a full intensity training session.”

In an Instagram post the day before the race, Shiffrin said she felt “quite good now” after “she took a fair amount of impact through my left knee” when she straddled a gate and crashed during slalom training.

Mikaela Shiffrin of United States reacts in the finish area after her second run on Saturday in Finland. Photograph: Kimmo Brandt/EPA

“I’m lucky (and so very grateful) to have come away with a bone bruise but no other major damage,” said Shiffrin, who won both slaloms here last year on her way to winning the discipline title for the seventh time.

No skier other than the American or Vlhova has won the traditional season-opening slalom in Finnish Lapland since then overall champion Tina Maze of Slovenia triumphed in 2014.

“Honestly, I didn’t expect such a gap between me and Lena and Katharina. But I feel good. I’m enjoying skiing and I feel confidence,” said Vlhova, now atop the overall standings having started the season by finishing third in a giant slalom in Austria two weeks ago in a race where Shiffrin placed sixth.

Laurence St-Germain, who beat Shiffrin to the slalom world title last February, trailed by 3.57 seconds in the first run and the Canadian skier failed to qualify for the second run.

Katharina Gallhuber, the 2018 Olympic bronze medalist, placed 13th in the Austrian’s first race in more than 600 days following a knee injury.

Another slalom on the same hill is scheduled for Sunday.

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