Mikaela Shiffrin claims 86th World Cup win, ties Ingemar Stenmark’s record | VailDaily.com

Mikaela Shiffrin claims 86th World Cup win, ties Ingemar Stenmark’s record

Edwards skier also tied the women's giant slalom career wins mark and claimed the giant slalom crystal globe

Mikaela Shiffrin speeds down the course during the women's World Cup giant slalom race in Are, Sweden on Friday, March 10. 2023. Shiffrin tied Ingemar Stenmark with her 86th-career World Cup win.
Pontus Lundahl/AP photo

Mikaela Shiffrin was just returning the favor.

The legendary Swedish skier Ingemar Stenmark won his 86th and final World Cup race in Aspen, Colorado, back in 1989, and on Friday, Colorado’s greatest skier — and maybe athlete — claimed her 86th-career World Cup win in Are, Sweden. Everything has come full circle.

“This is just a spectacular day. Oh my goodness,” Shiffrin said in the finish area of the mountain where she claimed her first World Cup victory as a 17-year-old in 2012.

“It’s pretty spectacular, I’ve never won a GS here,” she continued when asked on the podium by the public address announcer what it meant to win on the hill where she launched her career. “Today was perfect.”

Shiffrin, born in Vail and now a resident of Edwards, tied Stenmark’s all-time World Cup Alpine ski record with two masterful giant slalom runs. First, she knifed the Störtloppsbacken slope to build a 0.58-second lead over Valerie Grenier and 0.93-second gap over Franziska Gritsch in the morning.

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“It’s one of the few runs in my life where, while I was skiing it, I was thinking, ‘This is good,'” Shiffrin told Swedish broadcaster TV6 after run No. 1.

In the second run, the pressure of the moment seemed to overwhelm everyone except Shiffrin. Gritsch skied out just a few gates before the finish and Grenier made a critical error at the top of the course trying to close the insurmountable gap, scrubbing 0.43 seconds. Even before she pushed out of the gate, the American had secured her second-career giant slalom crystal globe (she also won in 2019).

Mikaela Shiffrin built a huge lead in the first run of the World Cup giant slalom in Are, Sweden. Her time of 55.16 seconds was 0.58 seconds clear of second, 0.93 ahead of third and 1.04 seconds up on the fourth place challengers.
Pontus Lundahl/AP photo

“I knew the GS globe was locked in before I raced, so I just wanted to push and fight for it,” Shiffrin said. “It was harder for the visibility; for the first run I had luck with the light and the second run was much more dark.”

With time to give back, Shiffrin didn’t need to do much in her second run except get to the finish line. Even playing it safe, the star still secured a 0.64-second victory over Federica Brignone of Italy.

“The goal was to catch Mikaela but then she’s skiing so great and yeah, she deserves another win,” Brignone said.

“She’s amazing,” the Italian continued when asked about Shiffrin getting to No. 86. “She’s skiing great, she’s attacking, she’s on her skiing, her technique is just perfect. What can I say more? She’s skiing great.”

Sweden’s Sara Hector rounded out the podium. Her first career podium was also in Are in December of 2014.

“It’s so special. On the slope, I had my worst injury ever, last year I had a bad race here where I lost the globe, I had my first podium here, my first World Cup here — some of my best moments and worst here,” Hector said. “It’s really emotional — super cool to do it.”

With her 20th-career giant slalom World Cup win, Shiffrin — who has won the last four World Cup giant slaloms and six of the last seven — also tied Vreni Schneider for the most all-time victories in the discipline for women.

“After the overall and the slalom globe, my biggest dream this season was the GS globe and that’s really — if I’m in the start and I had to choose, I’d choose the GS globe,” she said when asked which of the three achievements is the most important.

“So I was like, ‘OK, got that already, now I can push a little bit.’ Then, you come in the finish and you’re like, I can’t believe that all of that happened today. It’s a little too much to comprehend.”

Another encouraging American performance, somewhat lost in the celebration surround Shiffrin, was Paula Moltzan coming in 15th.

“Hand is hanging in there,” said Moltzan, who had surgery three weeks ago. “They put in three plates and 25 screw to stabilize fractures in my third, fourth and fifth metacarpals. Currently GS is a lot easier to manage than slalom. I have had one day of slalom since before world champs with a couple runs to test it. Just hoping to give it my all tomorrow with minimal pain.” 

Nina O’Brien also finished in 16th for the U.S. Shiffrin has a chance to break Stenmark’s record in Saturday’s slalom, where she has won a record 52 World Cups.

“Now everyone is going to ask about 87,” she laughed. “It’s a pretty spectacular position to be in. We talked at the beginning of the season, like, don’t take it for granted to be in this place where people ask me when I’m going to win 86 or 87.”

“That’s a pretty cool place to be even though it can be difficult to focus at times,” she continued. “But today I felt like the focus was there when I needed it to be, so then it was just fun to ski and that’s how I hoped it would be.”

With Stenmark watching, Shiffrin sent a message to the legend from the mixed zone.

“No matter what I do, for me it doesn’t ever compare to what you achieved. And, maybe I get the 87th victory, maybe not, but for me the biggest dream is to be mentioned in the same sentence as you,” Shiffrin said.

“So, it’s pretty special, who you are and who you were as a ski racer and what you achieved as a human. That’s been the most inspiring thing and it doesn’t stop there. You may not want the attention, but you still get it, because that’s who you are.”

Mikaela Shiffrin reacts after winning the World Cup giant slalom race in Are, Sweden, Friday, March 10, 2023. With her 86th-career victory, she matched the overall record set by Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark 34 years ago.
Pontus Lundahl/AP photo

This story will be updated throughout the day.

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