Shiffrin equals Vonn with 82nd career World Cup win on Sunday in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia

Edwards athlete can become most decorated female Alpine skier in history with a win in the slalom in Flachau, Austria on Tuesday

Ryan Sederquist
Vail Daily
American Olympic gold medalist ski racer Mikaela Shiffrin trains at Copper Mountain Resort in November 2020. Shiffrin is tied with Lindsey Vonn for an 82nd career World Cup race, the most ever by a female Alpine skier. She could become the most decorated female Alpine skier in history with a win in the slalom in Flachau, Austria on Tuesday, Jan. 10.
U.S. Ski & Snowboard/Courtesy photo

SLOVENIA — 82 down, one to go.

Mikaela Shiffrin’s climb to all-time greatness reached its penultimate step on Sunday morning in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, as the American won her 82nd career World Cup race, tying her with Lindsey Vonn for the most ever by a female Alpine skier. The 27-year-old blitzed the Podkoren 3 run in a combined two-run time of 1 minute, 52.53 seconds — posting the fastest time in both runs — to win her eighth race this season. Federica Brignone (1:53.30) came in second and Lara Gut-Behrami (1:53.50) was third.

“I hope someday I can ski like that again because it was maybe the best skiing I ever did in a GS,” Shiffrin told FIS afterward.

The Edwards skier took 232 World Cup starts to equal Vonn’s mark, winning 51 slaloms — a discipline record — 17 giant slaloms, five super-Gs, three downhills and one Alpine combined. Vonn, who retired at 34 on Feb. 10, 2019, after winning a world championship bronze medal, accumulated her wins this way: 43 in downhill, 28 in super-G, four in giant slalom, two in slalom and five in Alpine combined in 395 starts. Ingemar Stenmark holds the all-time Alpine wins record with 86.

For Brignone, it was her 50th career podium, a feat in and of itself. Considering the Italian’s legacy, the fact that Shiffrin has accumulated 82 wins seems even more staggering.

“This was the first objective of my season,” Brignone said of the half-century milestone.

“I’m super happy to have it now and for sure, compared to Mikaela, it’s another number, but for me it’s great. When I started my career, I never thought I’d be on the podium 50 times.”

After building her first run lead, Shiffrin said she was “so nervous on the second run.”

“And I don’t know exactly why because I said that I don’t care about the number and I just focus on the skiing, but I was just more nervous than I’ve ever been,” she admitted.

“Maybe a little bit was because of 82. I just really wanted to ski well, and I did.”

Despite the admission, it appeared as though there was zero timidity to Shiffrin’s skiing on the 40-gate, 320-meter hill in either run. Her sector ranks in the icy first run were first, second, first and fifth, respectively en route to a 0.24 second lead over Brignone, who was fourth yesterday. Yesterday’s champion, Valerie Grenier of Canada, lurked in third, 0.39 seconds back.

“I couldn’t ski faster,” Shiffrin told the Associated Press after her first run. “I felt much, much better this first run than yesterday. I had to try to change my feeling from yesterday. It was very good skiing and I’m happy with that.”

In the second run, Shiffrin tightened the screws, even with the nerves.

“Every time I feel more nervous, like the hard skiing and I can’t feel my legs and every time I feel that then I try to be more powerful, like somehow push harder instead of being too nice to the trail. I felt really smooth and really powerful,” she said.

The 27-year-old extended her lead in the first sector, rocketed to the fastest second and third sector marks — gaining 0.23 seconds in the latter alone — to cruise to the monumental, and dominant (she won by 0.77 seconds) win.

“It was a fight,” Shiffrin continued. “But it was pretty amazing conditions and I got a report from the coaches and they were like, ‘It’s really attackable, so just go for it.’ I’ve been in this position before and I’ve given it away and today I wanted to fight for it.”

When Gut-Behrami was asked how she felt about sharing the podium with Mikaela and what she thought about seeing the Edwards skier get so emotional over the number — particularly after saying herself that the numbers didn’t matter — she said, “Well I think it’s great. It’s sport … I think that’s what happens. It’s good to have these athletes that make history; without that, without the emotion, we wouldn’t be so addicted to sport.”

Shiffrin is also approaching another record, albeit less significant than the all-time mark. She moved ahead of Moser-Pröll and Tessa Worley of France with her 17th giant slalom win, good for second on the women’s career list behind only Vreni Schneider, who won 20.

The women’s World Cup continues with a slalom in Flachau on Tuesday. Shiffrin, the slalom discipline leader, has won the last two slaloms contested. With her eighth win of the year, she extended her large lead in the overall standings, moving 419 points ahead of Petra Vlhova.

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