Vail’s Mikaela Shiffrin clinches third World Cup title after snow cancels super-G
The march toward history continues
Very quietly, Mikaela Shiffrin clinched her third World Cup championship on Saturday after snowstorms in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, wiped out the women’s super-G.
Shiffrin, 23, of Eagle-Vail, who opted not to race this weekend and is training in Italy, has a 719-point lead over second-place Petra Vlhova with a maximum of 700 points now remaining this season.
“It’s quite strange because I am sitting here right now on my bed,” Shiffrin said in a video posted to Twitter. “I could go jump around and do a little happy dance and that. I feel like nobody really needs to see that. It’s just, it’s pretty crazy.”
— Mikaela Shiffrin (@MikaelaShiffrin) March 2, 2019
Kinda apropos. Shiffrin has just gone about her business — regardless of what other people think — and etched her name into the history books.
OK, she’s made it clear that she doesn’t care about history when she skis, but it’s getting harder to ignore.
• The only Americans to win three overall titles in a row are Phil Mahre (1981-83) and Lindsey Vonn (2008-10).
• Only one American has ever won more than three World Cup championships …Vonn (four, 08-10 and 2012).
• Shiffrin is now tied for third on the women’s list for most World Cup championships with Austria’s Petra Kronberger, Switzerland’s Vreni Schneider and Croatia’s Janica Kostelic. Only Annemarie Moser-Proll (six) and Vonn (four, if it isn’t apparent by now) have won more big globes.
The key to No. 3
Despite much hullabaloo during the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships with Vonn and Bode Miller questioning why Shiffrin would skip the downhill and the super-G, Shiffrin made the decision that she’s going to race when, where and how much she feels comfortable.
She learned from trying to take on too much during the 2017-18 season — adding more speed races and attempting to compete, at least initially, in all five events at the Olympics — and adjusted.
Between 23 World Cup starts and three at worlds, she has won 16 of the 26 races she’s entered this season. She has 22 podiums in 26 outings. The only race she didn’t finish in the top five was a ninth-place finish in a Lake Louise, Alberta, downhill.
What worked for Vonn, entering pretty much everything, doesn’t work for Shiffrin, which isn’t surprising because they’re different people. Let us resolve not to question Shiffrin’s scheduling again … ever.
The moments that mattered
• Shiffrin winning super-G in Lake Louise wasn’t overly shocking, though it did complete the cycle of winning in every major Alpine event (downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom and combined). What was a shot across the bow to the entire field was winning the St. Moritz, Switzerland, super-G one week later.
That showed it wasn’t a fluke. It’s worth noting that Shiffrin is 4-for-4 in super-Gs this season.
• Shiffrin has earned 960 points of a possible 1,000 this season. With two city events, a parallel slalom and seven regular slaloms, she’s won eight times and finished second twice. As good as Vlhova is, Shiffrin’s 960 points from slalom alone would place her second on the overall World Cup points only 115 points behind the Slovakian for the hypothetical lead.
• Winning the giant slalom in Kronplatz, Italy, back in January was huge. Shiffrin doesn’t have many ghosts in her career because she’s been so successful, but Kronplatz has been a problem venue for her. By winning, she showed she was dialed in for worlds.
• And though worlds don’t count toward the World Cup and her third title, two golds and bronze are three more steps for her toward skiing immortality. Quite frankly, she was probably skiing well enough to win the giant slalom, but bad weather held her to the bronze.
Nonetheless, she is the first athlete to win four gold medals in a row in an event at worlds with her slalom win last month.
The finishing touches?
• Shiffrin has four or five races left in her season. She’s definitely in for GS and slalom in the Czech Republic next weekend. As for the World Cup finals in Andorra, does she compete in super-G or does she stick to the GS and slalom? (As already illustrated, we support her decision because she clearly knows what she’s doing.)
• Can she win the giant-slalom globe for the first time in her career? Shiffrin leads France’s Tessa Worley, 455-374, with Vlhova at 318 points and Italy’s Federica Brignone at 310. While her slalom skill is unquestioned, Shiffrin has been either second or third in this discipline during full seasons since 2015.
• Can she break the record for most wins in a season? We’re going to go out on a limb and say yes as she needs to win just one of her final four tech races this season to get World Cup victory No. 15. Schneider (1988-89) and Shiffrin are tied at 14 right now.
• Can Shiffrin hit 2,000 points? She’s sitting on 1,794, entering the home stretch. Only Croatia’s Tina Maze (2,414 in 2013) and Austria’s Hermman Maier (2,000 in 2000) have hit that mark.