Has Mikaela Shiffrin already won the World Cup? (column)
January 4, 2019
We all know who won the women's World Cup championship last year, but who finished second?
That would be Switzerland's Wendy Holdener with 1,168 points.
We just bring this up since Mikaela Shiffrin has 1,114 points through 16 of the 38 scheduled World Cup events so far in the 2018–19 season. Slovakia's Petra Vlhova is second (668), followed by Holdener (454).
To finish ahead of Holdener's point total for all of last season, Shiffrin needs to finish seventh or better during Saturday's slalom in Zagreb, Croatia. We like her chances.
Unless she decides to ski backward for the rest of the season, Shiffrin's on her way to her third overall globe.
Even if Shiffrin stuck to the Marcel Hirscher path of winning overall titles — competing just in giant slalom and slalom — she would still be leading the point chase with 805.
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Under the category of the absurd, Shiffrin is still atop the race for the super-G globe. Yeah, there haven't been any races since early December, but her 200 points alone in that discipline would still put her in the top 20 in the overall standings.
And we interrupt this paean to greatness to remind you that she turns just 24 in March.
Wins keep on coming
• With her slalom win last weekend in Semmering, Austria, she passed Austria's Marlies Schild for most wins in the discipline by a woman with 36.
Two interesting concepts come up here. No. 1: It took Schild 12 seasons to win 35. Shiffrin won 36 slaloms halfway through her eighth season — there are still five of 10 slaloms left in the season. No. 2: Schild was a slalom specialist. Those 35 wins were all but two of her 37 career wins on tour. Shiffrin, while a slalom stud, is becoming an all-around racer. She already has 15 wins in non-slalom events.
• With 51 wins, Shiffrin is fourth on the women's all-time World Cup list — at the age of 23. Only Lindsey Vonn (82), Annemarie Moser-Proell (62) and Vreni Schneider (55) have won more races since the World Cup began during the 1967–68 season.
• Does she catch Schneider? Shiffrin needs four wins to tie and five to pass her on the all-time list. We'll say yes, as there are still five slaloms, four giant slaloms, one more city event and two combineds left in the season. Wins in two slaloms, two giant slaloms and a combined or the city event isn't a reach.
We're probably going to find out quickly if this is going to happen with two of the remaining five slaloms on Saturday and Tuesday, the latter in Flachau, Austria. Two wins in the next few days take her to 10 and makes the path to 15 less speed-dependent.
• Does she catch Maier and Maze? They are the only two racers to earn 2,000 points in a season. Hermann Maier racked up 2K on the nose during the 1999–00 season. Maze had 2,414 in 2012–13.
Maier? Maybe. Maze? Nope. Fun trivia from Maze's season — she had 31 top 10 finishes in the 35 races held. That. Is. Ridiculous.
What really matters
While we've been having fun with numbers, it's likely that Shiffrin doesn't give a horse's rear end about these records. She's focusing on skiing well and letting the results fall where they may.
Yes, that's totally trite, but trite things are so for a reason. They're true. And the truth is that she's in the period of her career when if she skis well, she wins.
Here are three things that are on her radar, probably:
• The race for the slalom globe is surprisingly tight. Despite four wins in slalom, Shiffrin only leads Vlhova, 580-500. Shiffrin is shooting for her sixth slalom championship in seven years.
• With the speed stop in St. Anton, Austria, Jan. 12-13, sandwiched by tech events, we're still looking at Cortina, Italy, on Jan. 19-20, for her likely next forays into downhill and super-G. Finding the training and competitive balance between speed and tech was one of her big goals for this season. How will it go?
• We are one month out from the FIS Alpine World Ski championships in Are, Sweden. World Cup wins are one thing. The Championships are another. Shiffrin already has three Worlds golds, the 2013, 2015 and 2017 slaloms.
Her odds are pretty good, unless she considers skiing backward.
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