Mikaela Shiffrin is ready for the Olympiabakken at this weekend’s World Cup speed events in Kvitfjell | VailDaily.com

Mikaela Shiffrin is ready for the Olympiabakken at this weekend’s World Cup speed events in Kvitfjell

Shiffrin was eighth in the second day of Thursday's downhill training

Mikaela Shiffrin speeds down the course during the women's World Cup downhill training run in Kvitfjell, Norway, on Thursday.
Marco Trovati/AP photo

The prospect of Mikaela Shiffrin tying — and possibly even surpassing — Ingemar Stenmark’s all-time World Cup wins record during this weekend’s World Cup speed events in Kvitfjell, Norway, is a lede which shall not be buried. It’s worth noting, however, that for the Edwards skier, there’s another narrative worth getting excited about: for the first time in the event’s 30-year history, women will compete in a regular World Cup on the Olympiabakken slope.

“It’s amazing. It’s so much fun to ski and it’s such cool terrain and good conditions, too,” Shiffrin said in an interview on skiandsnowboard.live regarding the venue used during the 1994 Olympic Games. “Really fun, and probably the hardest thing is figuring out how to be fast.”

She spent last week doing just that. Shiffrin skipped the Crans-Montana speed events held one week after the World Championships, electing for some cold-weather training runs in Kvitfjell. So far, it’s appeared to have paid off. Shiffrin posted the fastest time in the downhill training on March 1 and the eighth-fastest downhill time Thursday.

“My goal has always been to be in a position where I can win speed races. My skiing is good enough to be competitive. So, that’s the goal I’m trying to achieve every time I race in speed,” said Shiffrin, who will race a super-G on Friday and Sunday and a downhill on Saturday.

“But, there’s so many women who can win and have won and of course, when you look at downhill, it’s pretty hard to imagine getting ahead of (Sofia) Goggia,” she continued, referencing the 30-year-old Italian Olympic gold medalist, who had Thursday’s fastest time.

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“So it’s kind of like, well, if I were to make a bet, I’m not going to be the one on the top step, but I’m certainly going to try. I’m going to do my best. Maybe. We’ll see. Probably with luck, then it could be possible.”

Shiffrin was fortunate to join boyfriend Aleksander Aamodt Kilde in Kvitfjell, the site of the Norwegian Alpine team’s annual training April training camps, last sprint. In addition to that reconnaissance, she said the U.S. team is trying to tap into their men’s coaches and athletes for additional intel going into this weekend.

“There’s some key sections where the gates are a little bit different. The men’s course is set a bit more straight so it does ski a bit different (in) some spots,” Shiffrin said. “But I think, normally, they’re all saying that you can gain a lot of speed at the bottom section or you can lose a lot of speed as well, if you make some mistakes. That’s like the overall thing that everyone has told me.”

Shiffrin isn’t the only athlete excited for the first women’s World Cup on the Olympiabakken, or “Olympic Hill” (in 1993 and 2003, women competed on the slope in the World Cup Finals). Norway’s 2023 World Championships super-G bronze medalist Kajsa Vickhoff is also amped about the home field advantage.

“This is a dream come true!” she told Ski Racing Magazine this week. “I have dreamt of this since I started Alpine skiing, that I could race the World Cup at home. Kvitfjell is the speed home arena for all Norwegians. It is mega cool!”

Norwegian fans will also be stoked to see World Cup super-G bib leader Ragnhild Mowinkel. Currently, Shiffrin sits in 11th in the super-G standings with three races remaining. She’s already wrapped up the slalom title and leads the giant slalom and overall as well.

“The overall was one of my biggest goals from the start of the season,” said Shiffrin, who leads Petra Vlhova by over 700 points.

“So, I definitely didn’t expect to have a gap like that going into these final races, but it’s not like totally safe yet. So, I want to take the rest of the season as if the gap was small and I really have something to fight for.”

Shiffrin stats

(from FIS.com)

  • Shiffrin’s three victories in World Cup downhill events came in Lake Louise (December 2, 2017), Bansko (January 24, 2020) and Courchevel (March 16, 2022)
  • Shiffrin can win the overall crystal globe for the fifth time in her career, after 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2021/22. Only Marcel Hirscher (8), Annemarie Moser-Pröll (6) and Marc Girardelli (5) won the overall World Cup at least five times.
  • Shiffrin has won World Cup events in 31 different host cities. She has yet to participate in a World Cup event in Kvitfjell.
  • Shiffrin’s 85 wins in World Cup events are divided as follows: 52 in slalom, 19 in giant slalom, five in super-G, three in downhill, three in city events, two in parallel slalom and one in Alpine combined.

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