Mikaela Shiffrin ends World Cup season with one more win, her record 21st giant slalom victory | VailDaily.com

Mikaela Shiffrin ends World Cup season with one more win, her record 21st giant slalom victory

Mikaela Shiffrin poses with her trophies for the World Cup slalom, giant slalom and overall titles Sunday in Soldeu, Andorra.
Alessandro Trovati/AP

SOLDEU, Andorra — Mikaela Shiffrin capped off her stellar, record-breaking season with a giant slalom victory on Sunday at World Cup Finals in Andorra.

It was Shiffrin’s 88th career World Cup win and 21st in giant slalom, moving her one past Swiss great Vreni Schneider to become the all-time leader in GS victories.

Shiffrin achieved yet another record with her 138th career World Cup podium, moving her one past former teammate Lindsey Vonn.

The 28-year-old Edwards ski racer won the GS under mostly sunny skies by 0.06 seconds, just ahead of Norwegian Thea Louise Stjernesund. Canadian Valerie Grenier was third, 0.20 off Shiffrin’s two-run winning time of 1 minute, 55.88 seconds.

Mikaela Shiffrin whips around a gate during Sunday’s World Cup giant slalom race, in Soldeu, Andorra.
Giovanni Zenoni/AP

“Everybody is a little bit more relaxed end of the season, but you’re still fighting for things and you still want to make it work,” Shiffrin said in the Soldeu finish area. “Coming through the finish to get the victory just by a hair in front of Thea, she had an outstanding run, you can finally let your shoulders down and let out an actual real breath.”

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She added: “I didn’t dare to dream that I could get one more victory this season. All of a sudden this season is part of the group of my greatest seasons of all-time. I really never expected that would be a possibility again.

“It’s been incredible — I’m proud to finish strong.”

Shiffrin clocked the fastest time of 56.60 seconds in the morning run as the first racer out of the gate on the Avet course. Her advantage of 0.62 nearly eroded as she could muster no better than the 15th-fastest afternoon run. Still, as the final racer on course dealing with a softening surface, she hung on for a narrow victory.

Much to Shiffrin’s astonishment, the winner’s live flash interview was conducted by none other than her Norwegian boyfriend Alexander Aamodt Kilde.

Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, left, interviews Mikaela Shiffrin after she won the final women’s World Cup giant slalom race of the season in Soldeu, Andorra.
Alessandro Trovati/AP

“He’s really good, but I hope he stays with the career he has for a little bit longer,” Shiffrin said, asked if her boyfriend has a future as a journalist.

“He’s asking these questions and I’m like this is so weird hearing these questions coming out his mouth. He could probably answer these questions better than I,” she said with a laugh.

Kilde said he was ready at a moment’s notice. He asked her about the 88 wins, the record 138 podiums and about returning home to the U.S.

“It was spontaneous — I’ve talked to Mikaela before so it’s an easy one and I knew all of the answers of course. It was fun — I just tried to freestyle it a bit,” said the two-time World Cup downhill champion. “We had a great time together here — we stayed at the same hotel and had some dinners together. For her not having to fight for any globes is really beautiful and the same for me. And today as well, she just keeps on showing that she is the best in the world.”

Shiffrin was awarded both the overall and giant slalom title globes. Her final World Cup points total, including 100 more on Sunday, is 2,206. She claims her fifth overall title by a staggering 989 points over Swiss runner-up Lara Gut-Behrami.

Mikaela Shiffrin, right, and boyfriend Aleksander Aamodt Kilde look at each other on the last day of the World Cup season in Soldeu, Andorra. The pair plan on taking a three-week vacation in May.
Alessandro Trovati/AP

First out of the gate on a mostly sunny morning with a touch of clouds, Shiffrin posted a time of 56.60 seconds under ideal conditions on the Avet piste. It held up through all 28 racers.

Grenier of Canada was Shiffrin’s nearest challenger, 0.62 seconds off the pace, while Italian Marta Bassino and Poland’s Maryna Gasienica-Daniel were 0.63 and 0.65, respectively, behind Shiffrin.

Tough first run

It was a highly eventful morning run as three of Shiffrin’s major challengers dropped like flies, succumbing to a tricky course set by a Norwegian coach.

Former overall World Cup champion Petra Vlhova, bib No. 5, lost her right edge with just four gates to go and skied off course. The Slovak was the first of five DNFs.

Italian Federica Brignone, immediately following Vlhova, miscalculated off a blind left-footer just over 20 seconds in after leading Shiffrin. The Beijing Olympic and world championship silver medalist in the discipline caught too much air in the wrong direction and missed the next gate.

Continuing the sequence of consecutive mishaps, Swedish Olympic GS champion Sara Hector lost her left edge early in her run and slid on her hip outside the next gate.

Shiffrin’s teammate Nina O’Brien — who was the 25th of 25 qualifiers for the GS finale — lost control, crashed through a gate, and proceeded to spin 360 degrees on the snow.

Afterward, O’Brien said her ribs were a bit sore, but her knees were fine.

The third Stifel U.S. Ski Team member in the final, Paula Moltzan, finished her season with a 15th-place result, 1.53 seconds behind Shiffrin.

Returning home to Colorado

Shiffrin said she is excited to return to home to Colorado after a prosperous, but grueling four months on tour in Europe. Kilde noted that he is planning to visit in July. Before then, he and Mikaela plan on taking a three-week vacation in May.

“I’ve had so much support from the whole community, my hometown, really the whole Colorado community and it extends across the U.S. as well,” Shiffrin said. “I’ve spent so much time on the East Coast as well, I have family there, and when I think about the amount of support I’ve received this season and in my whole career. That’s the most essential thing to be able to do this.

“You get through the tough days and stay resilient because of the people around you who support you near-and-far, and that’s the most meaningful thing that I experience.”

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