Mikaela Shiffrin wins World Cup slalom, passes Hirscher on victory list
Shiffrin logs her 100th career World Cup podium and grabs sole possession of third place for most World Cup wins all time
Take that, Petra.
Mikaela Shiffrin won her first slalom of the 2020-21 World Cup season and her second event of the season, defeating Austria’s Katharina Liensberger by 19-hundredths of a second and Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener by 0.43 seconds.
“There’s so much energy building up,” Shiffrin said to ORF Television, the Austrian network streamed by Peacock. “I don’t know. I went all out on that run.”
Mikaela Shiffrin led after the first run with Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener (8-hundredths of a second behind) and Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova (0.14) in tow.
With the win, Shiffrin got her 100th career World Cup podium and passed Austrian legend Marcel Hirscher for sole possession of third place for most World Cup wins all time. Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark is first with 86 and Lindsey Vonn is second with 82.
Speaking of Vonn, Shiffrin also broke Vonn’s women’s record for most wins in a single discipline with 44 slalom wins. Vonn had 43 downnhill triumphs during her career.
As is usual, Shiffrin doesn’t give a hoot about records.
“I definitely wasn’t thinking about records today,” Shiffrin told ORF via Peacock. “I wanted to ski well. This slope has shaken me up the last couple of years. … It was really fun tonight.”
Shiffrin’s trials and travails with her father’s passing in February and COVID-19 interrupting her initial comeback to the tour in March 2020 as well as a lack of summer training, are well-documented.
While all respect those issues and keep them in mind in breaking down her season, Shiffrin appears to be solving the biggest obstacle to her success — Vlhova. The Slovakian had four wins, including three in slalom, this season entering Flachau.
Take a look at Shiffrin vs. Vlhova in their seven meetings in Levi, Finland, Courchevel France, Semmering, Austria, Zagreb, Croatia, and Flachau:
(Date — event — winner between Shiffrin and Vlhova — margin of victory between the two — Shiffrin’s finish vs. Vlhova.)
Nov. 21 — Levi slalom No. 1 — Vlhova — plus-0.18 seconds — 2-1.
Nov. 22 — Levi slalom No. 2 — Vlhova — plus 0.93 seconds — 5-1.
Dec. 12 — Courchevel giant slalom No. 1— Vlhova — plus-1.11 seconds — 4-3.
Dec. 14 — Courchevel giant slalom No. 2 — Shiffrin — Vhlova DNFs — 1-DNF.
Dec. 29 — Semmering slalom — Shiffrin — plus-0.79 seconds — 3-4.
Jan. 3 — Zagreb slalom — Vlhova — plus-0.29 seconds — 4-1.
Jan. 12— Flachau slalom — Shiffrin — plus 0.62 seconds — 1-4.
Vlhova won the first three meetings with Shiffrin this season and two of those wins were convincing. Shiffrin has won three of the last four. It seems that Shiffrin has gotten her legs underneath her with regard to her chief competition, particularly with worlds approaching in February in Cortina, Italy.
If you’re wondering why we’re so Vlhova-Shiffrin focused, well, the two have combined to win 29 out of the last 30 World Cup slaloms, dating back to Flachau 2017. (Sweden’s Frida Handotter, now retired, won that day and Gisin was the exception to this trend, winning in Semmering last month.)
Vlhova still leads the chase for the slalom globe with 400 points, followed by Liensberger (360) and Shiffrin (335).
Quotes from Mikaela
• Yes she won in Courchevel earlier this year, but Shiffrin viewed that as a sad experience, she said Tuesday via FIS Soundcloud in her post-race news conference. As she continues to grieve, she also deals with sadness and anger, the latter being a different emotional experience for her.
“I’m not really the kind of person who has a lot of anger so I don’t know what to do with that,” She said. “Some days, I wake up and I want to scream so loud that everyone in the world can hear. I don’t know how to get this feeling out. I hate the feeling. It’s there and I can’t get it out.
“I’m trying to put that energy into the skiing because I don’t know where else to put it. So far, at least with my training and tonight, I was able to release some of this feeling, this dark terrible thing inside my soul. I want it out. I want it gone. Every time I’m racing and figuring things out I’m letting some of that go. I hope it keeps going like this. Tonight, finally, I felt I could be proud of my skiing.”
• Under the category of just interesting, Shiffrin almost said something akin to, “My best days are behind me.” While of course, she has been in the spotlight for a long time, it’s important to remember she’s 25.
“It feels a little bit like a new beginning. It’s a little strange because when I look at my whole career realistically most of my wins and my best races are behind me,” Shiffrin said. “It’s already happened. At 25, it’s weird to think the bulk of the best racing of my career is already over. That’s strange to think about. I know it sounds negative.”
• Shiffrin is enjoying the competition this year, even though she’s been on the wrong side of some results this season.
“It’s the best thing that could happen for this sport,” she said.
Moltzan in the top 10
It’s kind of difficult to get some ink when Shiffrin is winning, but American Paula Moltzan finished ninth for the third top 10 of her career on Tuesday.
Like Breezy Johnson, Ryan Cochran-Siegle and Tommy Ford, Moltzan is having herself a season. All three of those top 10s have come this year — 10th in the Soelden, Austria GS and second in parallel in Lech-Zurs, Switzerland.
“I’ve always just loved racing here — mostly because it feels like home,” said Moltzan, who has trained with Ski & Snowboard Club Vail. “I grew up in the Midwest. I trained at night under the lights every day — I thought it was weird to ski in the daylight. This just feels like coming back home and it’s really special to have my best result in slalom here again.”
Meanwhile, A.J. Hurt was 29th. The American has now scored in four different disciplines this season — super-G, GS, slalom and parallel.
Tech racing continues on the women’s World Cup this weekend in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, with a giant slalom Saturday and a slalom Sunday.
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