Shiffrin returns to World Cup for a reindeer | VailDaily.com

Shiffrin returns to World Cup for a reindeer

Yes, one is already Rudolph

Mikaela Shiffrin kicks out of the gate on Saturday in the first slalom of the World Cup season in Levi, Finland.
Marco Trovati | Associated Press

So, what happens to the reindeer?

This is a pressing question as Mikaela Shiffrin and the women’s World Cup resume action on Saturday with the Levi, Finland, slalom.

The winner of said competition earns prize money, 100 World Cup points, and a reindeer. Given the likely difficulty of getting a reindeer through airline security, much less into the overhead compartment of an airplane, the reindeer stays in Levi≥

Shiffrin has won the Levi slalom thrice (2013, 2016 and 2018), and accordingly has named three rangifers terrandi, Rudolph, Sven, and Mr. Gru, who presumably are living a life of contentment in Finland.

Soelden review

In our last episode of, “As the Mikaela Turns,” Shiffrin finished second in the Soelden, Austria, giant slalom in October to New Zealand’s Alice Robinson by all of 6-hundredths of a second with France’s Tessa Worley in third. 

Robinson, 17, is clearly an up-and-comer in GS, having earned the first podium of her career last spring — second place behind Shiffrin at the World Cup finals in Soldeu, Andorra.

In a bit of a role reversal for her career, Shiffrin, 24, was the grizzled veteran being “upstaged” by the youngster at Soelden.

Robinson, to this point in her young career, has not skied slalom on the World Cup, so round up the usual suspects for Saturday with Shiffrin being automatically installed as the favorite in any World Cup event in this discipline.

The champ is here

Shiffrin is moderately above average in the slalom having won the yearly World Cup globe six out of the last seven years — the only exception being 2015-16, the season when she tore her ACL.

She’s captured the biennial FIS Alpine World Ski Championships slalom in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019, as well as the Olympic gold in 2014.

Forty of Shiffrin’s 60 career World Cup wins are in slalom, Last season, in the nine traditional slalom events  — i.e. not including parallel or city events — she won eight and finished second in Flachau, Austria on Jan. 8.

Shiffrin, already the winningest women’s slalomer of all time, will pass men’s legend Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark with her next victory in the discipline.

Throwing in the aforementioned parallel and city events to her slalom, Shiffrin won 10 times last season and finished second twice in the total 12 events for 1,160 points out of a possible 1,200.

Here come Petra and Wendy

And, yes, both of Shiffrin’s runner-up finishes in the discipline last season came at the hands of Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, who is the closest thing out there to Mikaela kryptonite.

Shiffrin (1,160) breezed to the slalom crown last year with Vlhova (877) and Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener (681).

Get familiar with these three names in women’s slalom. In four of the nine World Cup slaloms last year, the same combination of the trio was the podium.

Austria’s Bernadette Schild and Katharina Liensberger and Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter and Anna Swenn Larsson were the only skiers not named Mikaela, Petra, and Wendy to make a slalom podium last season, and Hansdotter retired last spring.