Shiffrin clinches 15th World Cup win of season
Happy early birthday, Mikaela.
Four days before the World Cup racer turns 24, Mikaela Shiffrin carved more history into the snow and she gets another record or two along with her birthday cake.
The 23-year-old just broke the World Cup record for most wins in a single season with her 15th triumph of the 2018-19 season, a slalom win on Saturday in Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic.
Shiffrin made the math easy on Saturday, laying down the fastest times in both runs for a combined total of 1 minute, 38.98 seconds, which was 0.85 seconds ahead of Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener and 2.03 seconds in front of Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova.
Think of that as a bounce-back after what she considered — by her standards — to be a disappointing third-place finish in the Spindleruv Mlyn giant slalom on Saturday.
“Yesterday … I felt disappointment from the first (run),” Shiffrin said to The Associated Press. “So today I wanted to not protect something, like ski with risks, ski to fight and see what was possible. It was really fun to ski both runs.”
Crunching/crushing the numbers
In winning on Saturday, Shiffrin broke a record that had stood longer than she has been alive. Switzerland’s Vreni Schneider won 14 times during the 1988-89 season (seven times in slalom, six in GS and once in the combined.) Thirty years later, seven slaloms, three giant slaloms, three super-Gs and two parallel slaloms make 15 for Shiffrin.
In the interests of fairness, both 2019 and 1989 were also FIS Alpine World Ski Championships seasons. With world championships not counting toward World Cup totals, Shiffrin has 17 wins in total with her victories at the championships in Are, Sweden, in super-G and slalom. Schneider also struck gold at the 1989 championships — in giant slalom — the first time the worlds came to Vail.
No one — male or female — who has ever clicked into a pair of skis has won more during one season than Shiffrin in the 53-year history of the World Cup. The all-time mark for the gents is 13, a three-way tie among Ingemar Stenmark (1979), Hermann Maier (2001) and Marcel Hirscher (2018).
Speaking of Stenmark, the Swedish legend holds the record with 40 career slalom wins, followed by Shiffrin (39), Alberto Tomba (35), Schneider (34) and Hirscher (32).
With the win, Shiffrin also upped her point total for the season to 1,954. Only Tina Maze (2,414 in 2013), Maier (2,000 in 2000), Lindsey Vonn (1,980 in 2012) and Janica Kostelic (1,970 in 2006) have scored more points in a season.
And, of course, this really doesn’t mean overly much to Shiffrin. It’s the process with her — she focuses on good skiing and the results will come.
When asked about the record wins in a season, she said in a news conference on the International Ski Federation Soundcloud: “It’s not really important, but it’s the symbol of things that were most important. My goal is always to be strong when I get in the starting gate, to be able to race fast, to be able to win races, to be able to have podiums, to have a really strong season, that is important to me. The wins, numbers like that, is not crazy important, but it’s still something special.”
One of the more amusing headlines of Saturday morning on the Internet came via FIS: “Shiffrin storms to first-ever Spindleruv Mlyn win.”
It’s worth noting that this is the first time the tour has been to this venue in the Czech Republic since March 11-12, 2011, which happened to be Shiffrin’s first races on the World Cup as a 15-year-old. In those two races, she finished 4.64 seconds off leader Viktoria Rebensburg in the GS and also missed the flip in the slalom the next day.
“I think the biggest difference is that there are more people who know who I am,” joked Shiffrin, via the FIS Soundcloud.
On a serious note, it seems that the Shiffrin camp’s plan to modify her schedule — the less is more approach — is paying dividends. Now 31 races into the 35-event schedule, which doesn’t include the five races in Are for worlds, Shiffrin is not feeling the grind as much.
“I feel quite a lot better than I did last year at this time,” she said on the FIS Soundcloud. “These last two weeks, taking a little bit of time, some rest, some training, that was really helpful. But last year after the Olympics, yeah, everybody was tired. I was not the only one … I’m still feeling good. I’m still feeling motivated. There’s still some energy left in the tank. I’m enjoying these last races.”
Shiffrin has three more starts on her schedule at the World Cup finals in Soldeu, Andorra, next week — super-G on Thursday, slalom on Saturday and GS on March 17. The big items on the agenda are taking a shot at winning the season globes in the super-G and the GS. Shiffrin already has the crystal for the overall crown and the slalom.
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