Petra Vlhova. [Photo/Agencies]

BRATISLAVA — Slovak alpine skier Petra Vlhova completed her World Cup race hat-trick on Thursday by winning the women’s Parallel Giant Slalom in the Austrian resort of Lech Zuers.

It was Vlhova’s third straight victory in six days after winning two slalom races in Levi over the past weekend.

“It was very difficult today. Each run was like a final race. I don’t even know what to say. It’s fantastic. I managed to keep my focus before each run. I’m sorry, I’m exhausted,” summarized the tired but happy Vlhova after crossing the finish line on her second run of the final battle.

American Paula Moltzan crashed during the last run but still achieved her greatest World Cup success with a second-place finish and first podium in the prestigious international series.

With Vlhova’s greatest rival Mikaela Shiffrin deciding not to participate and focus on other disciplines, the 25-year-old Slovak had it a little easier than anticipated and stretched her lead in the rankings to 185 points as a result (taking 360 points out of available 400 this season).

The World Cup second-ranked Michelle Gisin also didn’t show up in Lech Zuers and slalom specialist Anna Swenn-Larson was forced to remain in coronavirus quarantine despite several negative test results in the previous days.

The parallel giant slalom discipline had been introduced to the alpine skiing World Cup only last year. Clara Direz won the only race of the season in the Italian resort of Sestriere, with Vlhova finishing 18th.

The event sparked a lot of controversy and heated debates among the participants. The main issue was with the parallel tracks not being identical in the final section, favoring only one of the racers, and the high risk of the dueling skiers crashing into each other if one of them fell.

The International Ski Federation, therefore, changed the rules for the 2020-21 season and added a second run to every round of the knockout stage of the parallel giant slalom competition, making the race much more demanding and twice as long – Vlhova slipped into the final round with only a 0.01s lead over Sara Hector of Sweden.

With three victories in four races under her belt so far, Vlhova’s ambitions to achieve the coveted overall World Cup victory remain very much alive. Enditem