Petra Vlhova won the final slalom of the World Cup season

Soldeu (Andorra) (AFP) - Olympic champion Petra Vlhova won the final slalom of the World Cup season in Andorra, with Mikaela Shiffrin finishing third.

Vlhova led after the first run and the Slovakian secured her second victory of the season as she finished 0.43 seconds ahead of the Croatian Leona Popovic, who won her first podium on the main circuit.

In changing weather conditions, Vlhova was able to take advantage of late rays of sunshine to end a difficult season well, having left the world championships in Meribel in February without a medal.

“I am super happy to finish the season like this,” said Vlhova.

“My season was up and down, just one victory this season in slalom, some podiums.

“The last race, I was DNF (did not finish) but I felt good, so I wanted to come here, to show my skiing in the last races and to have a good feeling for next season.”

Shiffrin, who was already assured of the overall World Cup title and the small slalom globe before the race, was fourth at the halfway point behind Anna Swenn Larsson.

The Swede, however, failed to finish her second run, promoting Shiffrin to the podium 0.86sec behind Vlhova.

“It was really fun to race, it is a challenging slope and kind of interesting to finish the season with that because for me it gives a lot of insight into the kind of things we can work on through the summer and into the preparation for next season,” said Shiffrin whose 11 slaloms have brought six wins, three second places, a third and a fifth.

The American, who last week broke Ingemar Stenmark’s long-standing record of 86 World Cup wins, admitted that such success could occasionally be a burden.

“Every single race I feel the weight of having to be one of the best in the world no matter what the day is,” she said.

”(It) is actually quite a privilege but some days it’s quite heavy. But today it didn’t feel heavy. It just felt like a really good opportunity.”

Shiffrin is the favourite for the last race of the season on Sunday, a giant slalom, where she could score her 14th win of the campaign and improve her record of 87 World Cup victories.