Mikaela Shiffrin, humble as ever, claims record-breaking 83rd World Cup win to surpass Lindsey Vonn
As ski world begins to celebrate her as the greatest ever, American superstar is at a loss for words
KRONPLATZ, Italy — Mikaela Shiffrin was presented with a queen’s crown Tuesday after convincingly winning her record-breaking 83rd World Cup victory in the Northern Italian Dolomites resort of Kronplatz. It was a fitting prize for the most decorated female World Cup ski racer after she tore down the demanding Erta giant slalom piste en route to the historic triumph. Celebrations quickly began on what would have been an ordinary Tuesday.
Shiffrin was eager to share her thoughts and observations about the record-setting day, although at a loss for words to sum up the enormity of reaching the 83-win mark.
“This morning before the first run I was feeling quite intense and wanted to be tough, as It’s not an easy hill and requires a lot of effort,” Shiffrin told reporters after the record-breaking victory. “Then I looked in front of me and there were about 150 course workers slipping the course and I’m thinking, they’ve been going all night long clearing the extra snow off the hill.”
Shiffrin took a video of the scene “because that’s just a moment where you take a step back and look at seeing all these people working to make this race happen and the surface is already perfect,” she said. “It made me really excited to race — I was thinking everybody is doing their job and my only job is to make some good ski turns, ski fast and I think I can do that. That was a nice moment in the day.”
Inspired by the Kronplatz course workers, that’s exactly what Shiffrin did. She increased her advantage over Lara Gut-Behrami by picking up three-tenths on the lower section of the course to claim victory by 0.45 seconds over the Swiss veteran. For Shiffrin, it was her 18th career giant slalom victory and within two of the top mark set by Vreni Schneider, yet another record within reach.
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The Edwards ski racer moved one win past her former U.S. teammate Lindsey Vonn, who grew up in the same valley skiing for the same club, after the two had been locked at 82 wins each. Shiffrin succeeded on her fifth attempt at breaking the record following three-speed races in nearby Cortina d’Ampezzo and a night race in Flachau, Austria, in which she finished runner-up to Petra Vlhova, on Jan. 10.
It has been 16 days since she equaled Vonn’s mark of 82, winning a giant slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, on Jan. 8. Shiffrin noted that she was not feeling any added pressure with the record at stake entering Tuesday’s race.
“I’d say I was feeling less pressure — after Kranjska Gora, I was like this is 82 and it’s a string of wins (five) and you’ll get 83 tomorrow,” she said.
Shiffrin was unable to reach the top of the podium over her next four races. There was no panic in her game.
“Coming here, this number 83 was almost completely out of mind today,” Shiffrin revealed. “Just like we’re just restarting the season from square one — I guess it’s very fitting that it would come in the moment when I actually was thinking about it the least and didn’t expect it at all.”
She added: “It was a pretty special race, an amazing atmosphere with fans” about the competition at Kronplatz resort, packed with numerous fans from the small village of San Vigilio at the base of the mountain.
The record — in record time
Shiffrin’s 83rd victory comes at the age of 27, while it took Vonn until 33 to reach the mark before she retired due to injuries. Mikaela’s fellow competitors and teammates heaped praise on her, many declaring her as the “GOAT.”
The dominant U.S. racer recently passed French veteran Tessa Worley in the GS victory table. Worley, who has 16 GS wins and two disciplines titles, has battled with Shiffrin on numerous race hills.
“It’s a privilege to be racing against such a skier in our generation where everyone is pushing really hard,” Worley said. “What I liked about her today is that she really did the job 100% from the first to the second run and really pushed it.”
Shiffrin won the morning run by 0.16 seconds and built upon that also taking the afternoon run by 0.26.
“She’s getting those wins with a lot of character, so it’s pretty inspiring,” Worley said. “It was an amazing achievement today.”
“I don’t know how she can manage all this so well because after 14 years I’m still so stressed and she seems like she never has these problems — it’s just amazing,” said Italian former overall World Cup champion Federica Brignone, who finished third on Tuesday.
“I could see her attacking and when Mikaela is in the zone pushing and charging, there’s almost nothing the rest of us can do,” said teammate Nina O’Brien. “She put on quite a show with a total clutch performance, but that’s what she does and why she has 83.”
Always humble, always grateful
While Shiffrin’s fellow racers continued to commend her, she thanked the numerous people who have contributed in myriad ways and means to her illustrious career, especially those in her home state of Colorado.
“We all know the saying that it takes a village, but actually it takes a city,” Shiffrin said. “Every step of the way people tell you are amazing and it’s really hard to stay focused on the right things.
“I have family, my closest friends, my coaches through the years — they’ve always been focusing on the proper things, what I believe are the right things to think about in life, and maybe that’s why I’m here now and 83 means a lot less to me than how I skied on the mountain today.”
Shiffrin’s illustrious career has been filled with high and lows over her nearly 12 years of World Cup racing. From winning five Olympic medals, including two gold at her first two Olympics Games, and then being unable to build upon that legacy at the Beijing 2022 Games.
Shiffrin suffered her greatest loss when her father, Jeff, died on Feb. 2, 2020, in an accident at the family home in Colorado. Her mother, Eileen, who has been at Mikaela’s side as a coach and confidant ever since her earliest days on tour, said her husband would have been thrilled to witness their daughter’s latest accomplishment.
“We’ve been through a lot and Mikaela has been through a lot with the Olympics not going great and with her Dad dying, thinking and reflecting for the past couple of years I think about time missed with him because of the sport,” Eileen Shiffrin said.
“Yet, he wouldn’t have had it any other way. He just loved the sport and he wanted to be here with us. I just know he’s up there thinking ‘there you go, that’s what we’re waiting for.’ He thought she could do it and here she is.”
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- Slalom: 51
- Giant slalom: 17
- Super-G: 5
- Downhill: 3
- Parallel slalom: 2
- Alpine combined: 1