Shiffrin wins World Cup slalom to move within one win of Ingemar Stenmark’s record
Shiffrin can tie the great Swedish skier in tomorrow's slalom
Passing Lindsey Vonn on the all-time women’s Alpine ski World Cup wins list is already becoming old news for Mikaela Shiffrin.
The 27-year-old skier won her third straight World Cup race in a period of five days in Saturday morning’s slalom in Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic. It was her 85th-career victory, moving her within one of tying Ingemar Stenmark (86) for the most Alpine ski World Cup victories ever by a man or woman.
“I felt very good with my skiing,” Shiffrin said in a post-race interview. “From the first turns I made this morning, I was on point and ready to be aggressive on the slope. That’s how I wish every race would feel.”
It was the 11th win of the season for Shiffrin, who won 12 races in 2017-18 and a record 17 in 2018-19. The location was particularly special — it was the site of her World Cup debut as a 15-year-old. She also won in Spindleruv Mlyn when the venue last hosted a World Cup in 2019.
“I have a lot of memories here,” she said.
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Shiffrin posted the fastest first and second runs on the 59 gate Cerná Svatý Petr (Black St. Peter) slope for a total time of 1 minute, 33.85 seconds, 0.60 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Lena Duerr and 1.31 ahead of Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener, who rounded out the podium. In her first run, Shiffrin gained a 0.29-second advantage over Duerr, skiing efficiently over the long, flat portion of the course and deftly maneuvering a middle combination where the course set permitted multiple ways of negotiating the gates.
“You could ski it either way,” Shiffrin said. “I was able to really carry a lot of speed on the end of the course. In the end, I felt very good on my run.”
“I knew it would take some risk and there’s a chance that I don’t finish at all, but I have to do my best turns to have a chance because these women are so strong,” Shiffrin continued.
“I don’t know what to say, it’s just pretty incredible how today felt.”
In the second run, Shiffrin’s sector rankings were 13th, fourth and first, respectively. Her teammate Paula Moltzan had the third-fastest second run of the day to move up from 11th-place to fifth. No other Americans finished in the top 30.
Shiffrin, who has won five of the eight slaloms contested this season, has a chance to wrap up the discipline title if she can extend her lead over Holdener by at least 200 points in Sunday’s slalom. Currently, she is 175 clear of the Swiss veteran. She also has 1,617 points in the overall standings, 671 ahead of second-placer Petra Vlhova, who finished fourth on Saturday..
The obvious statistic garnering the most attention, however, remains Stenmark’s all-time mark. When asked specifically about what win No. 85 meant to her, Shiffrin answered, “Today I felt like finally I was just really able to focus. I’m always trying to think about everything else but these numbers because they just make me nervous and I don’t have a reason to be nervous if I achieve 86 or 87 because I shouldn’t be in this position in the first place, so it’s only positive.”
“But for sure everybody asks and then I feel pressure to do it and then I don’t enjoy the races so much, but today it was just an amazing day,” she continued.
“From the moment I woke up I felt good and ready to go, and then my skiing — I’m so happy with my skiing, so 85 is the icing on the cake.”
Saturday’s race was Shiffrin’s sixth since Jan. 20.
“I’m actually a little bit tired for sure, but I had a good recovery day yesterday,” she said regarding her energy levels. “Sometimes when you’re tired it just takes away the nerves because you don’t have the energy to be nervous.”
The World Cup continues with another slalom on Sunday, the final World Cup event before the World Championships briefly interrupt the calendar from Feb. 6-19. If Shiffrin is unable to tie Stenmark Sunday, she would have to wait until the speed events from Feb. 23-26 in Crans Montana, Switzerland.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be tomorrow,” she said about tying the great Swede. “I think these other athletes have a chance to win it; we’re going to have to find out tomorrow.”