Alpine Skiing

EXCLUSIVE: Petra Vlhova on her dreams, challenges, and Mikaela Shiffrin! 

The Slovak skier talked to Olympic Channel about her rivalry with Mikaela Shiffrin, her passion for tennis, and why she'd love to meet Peter Sagan.

Petra Vlhova has been alpine skiing's breakout story this season.

The super Slovakian continued her rich vein of form by winning the World Cup giant slalom race in Spindleruv Mlyn.

It was her fifth World Cup win this season, which is more than her previous three campaigns combined!

Following the victory Vlhova told Eurosport: “I am very happy that I won in front of my home fans. It is just amazing.”

Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg and Mikaela Shiffrin of the Unites States were second and third respectively.

The result means the giant slalom crystal globe winner will be decided in Andorra 11-17 March, with Shiffrin the heavy favourite.

Petra VLHOVA

Slovakia
Alpine Skiing
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Number of medals

0 Olympic medals

Olympic Games

2 Olympic Games

In December, 23-year-old Vlhova became the most successful Slovak skier of all time (overtaking her idol Veronika Velez-Zuzulova) and with a total of 4 wins and 10 podiums on the World Cup circuit has proved to be the closest rival of double Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin, sitting second in the overall standings.

At the 2019 alpine ski World championships in Are, Sweden, Vlhova clinched her first senior medals. That included her country's first ever gold, when she won the giant slalom in front of Viktoria Rebensburg and Shiffrin.

The 2012 Youth Olympic Games slalom champion sat down with the Olympic Channel in Are to reflect on her achievements and on the challenges she's faced so far in her career.

Olympic Channel: Hi Petra, let's find out more about you. Slovakia is not famous for skiers, how and why did you take up skiing?

Petra Vlhova: I live in Liptovsky Mikulas, close to Jasna, which hosted a World Cup event in 2016. So I have mountains around me and I spent a lot of time there with my parents with my brother when I was a kid. That's how I became a skier, and now I am here, this is the reason, I think.

Were you raised in a sporting family?

My parents were skiers but not professional. Even now they like skiing and cycling. The fact they loved skiing is one of the reasons why I am a skier today.

Did you practise any other sport?

I did a lot of sports when I was younger: skiing, football, tennis...I still love football, I played basically in every position, except goalkeeper. Then I put everything aside and focused only on skiing.

Who was your sporting idol when you were growing up?

When I was young, Veronika (Velez-Zuzulova) was my idol because she's from Slovakia and, when I was watching her on TV, I wanted to be like her. So when I finally met her it was something amazing.

When you joined the World Cup, was there any skier you were excited to meet?

I made my World Cup debut in Semmering, Austria (in December 2012), finishing 11th. That day before the second run I was with 'Zuzu' and I saw Tina Maze during the course inspection. She came to greet us and I was like: 'Finally I see her face to face, not just on TV!.' We just said 'hi, hi' to each other, but that moment was something very special for me.

Slovakia's most famous sportsperson is three-time road cycling world champion Peter Sagan. Have you met him?

I've not met him yet, but I'd love to. I would like to ask him a lot of things, about cycling and what he experiences when he's sprinting toward the finish line...

What do you admire in him?

He loves what he does, and he's a special person, he's very authentic. When you see Peter Sagan on TV, this is how he really is. Whatever happens to him, he always remains the same person.

How important were the Youth Olympic Games for your career?

That was a competition that gave me a lot of experience. When I won gold in slalom, that was when my career, everything started. I have a lot of good memories from Innsbruck 2012 and it was the first time I won after four podiums. Finally I did it there and I had a good time.

When did you realise you could be one of the best in the world?

I can't tell you when, but I always had in my head that one day I wanted to be on the top, I wanted to be the best. So I work a lot every day with my coach Livio (Magoni, former coach of Tina Maze and the Italian Team) and we need to keep working like this.

What were your dreams when you started?

My dream was to be one day in the position than I am now. Now I feel I'm at the top of my game and I can be on the podium. Now I am second in the overall standings and second in the slalom rankings. I also won two races in Giant Slalom and this for me was an amazing achievement, also because when I won my first GS race in Semmering that was also my first podium. You know, my strong discipline is slalom, but last year I was also really strong in GS, but I couldn't show it in a race: many times I finished only 10th, 11th...

This was your breakthrough season. What's next for you?

I'm dreaming about a lot of things, but this is my secret...(laughs) Of course, I want some more medals from the World Championships and of course also from the Olympic Games. But this is the future, now I want to finish this season well.

What do you love most about your sport?

I like the feeling in the finish area when I cross the line and I see the green light... That feels amazing, like when I won the slalom in Flachau. This is what I love, I guess everybody like when they win.

I do what I love, and for me this is important. I like it, I have the best job!

At the slalom in Maribor, Slovenia, your rival Mikaela Shiffrin came over after the race to hug you and consolate you: can you talked us through that moment? It seemed like a genuine and authentic gesture...

I have a big respect for Mikaela because for me she is a true champion: she won a lot of races and now she's the best skier in the World Cup. It was a nice hug: I just finished fifth, I made a mistake and I was really sad. She came and she gave me a hug and it was nice because sometimes you need it...We have a good battle all the time when we race so it was a nice gesture, yes.

Croatia's former ski star Ivica Kostelic compared his situation to yours: what challenges did you face in your career and how did they motivate you?

Even now sometimes it's difficult to find good conditions for training, because we have to travel to many places, such as Austria, Argentina, New Zealand...We are also a small country and I also have a small team, which is private. If you compare our situation with skiing countries like Switzerland or Sweden, they receive a bigger financial support and for me it's difficult to compete at the same level as other nations.

But if you face hard conditions, the day the victory comes, you enjoy it more than others.

What do you do when you are not skiing?

I like tennis. On the men's side my favourite players are of course (Roger) Federer and 'Djoko' (Novak Djokovic). I love watching the girls too, I follow the Slovakian players and I like (Caroline) Wozniacki. I like to watch tennis, but I like to play the sport too. If I wasn't a skier, who knows what I could have been...

Last question: if they make a movie about you, which actor would you like to play you? Shiffrin said Jennifer Lawrence...

I think Julia Roberts! But I don't know why, I like a lot of movies with her!