US skier Mikaela Shiffrin eyes record 11th win as teenager
The Associated Press
ZAGREB, Croatia — Even though she isn’t chasing them anymore, World Cup skiing records keep coming Mikaela Shiffrin’s way.
In Sunday’s race, the American can match the all-time best mark of 11 slalom wins as a teenager set by Perrine Pelen of France in the 1980s, and Shiffrin will get two more chances — in Flachau, Austria, next week, and Maribor, Slovenia, in February — before turning 20 in March.
However, she has decided not to keep a close look at the record books anymore and try to just enjoy her racing more.
“It’s a kind of a different tactic,” said Shiffrin, who won in Kuehtai, Austria, last week after a disappointing start to her slalom season with no podiums in the first three races. “Just put my best run down and see what happens. That makes it more comforting for me.”
Shiffrin dominated the women’s slalom in the past two seasons, winning Olympic gold and the world championship as well as nine World Cups. In giant slalom, she earned her first win in a tie with Anna Fenninger in the season-opening race in October.
“It’s been great for me in the past three years,” Shiffrin said. “After tying for the win with Anna, I was like, ‘All right, I have my first GS win and slalom is coming up.’ I felt confident but sometimes it doesn’t come so easy.”
The American came 11th, fifth and fourth respectively in the following slaloms. She ditched plans to start competing in super-G, and went to a training camp in Italy to get back on track in her strongest discipline.
She sorted out some equipment issues by changing her boots and skis, and tweaked her mindset as well.
“I had to remember to be loose in slalom,” she said. “My expectations are trying just to have fun with it.
“I was like, I want to win as many as I can, and see if I can break records. Now, I am just like, what’s the point if I am trying to win and I am not winning, obviously that’s not fun. So I’d rather try to ski well, then ski well, and see where that gets me.”
The new approach paid off in Kuehtai, where Shiffrin was the fastest in both runs for a convincing win.
After taking the crystal globe for the season’s best slalom skier in the last two years, Shiffrin is up to fourth in the standings with 219 points. Frida Hansdotter of Sweden leads with 270, followed by Tina Maze of Slovenia with 249 and Maria Pietilae-Holmner with 245.
Shiffrin wants to gain ground on her rivals with another win in Zagreb. The American failed to finish her first run here in 2012 but won by a huge 1.19-second margin over Hansdotter the following year.
The race was canceled due to a lack of snow in 2014, and only narrowly escaped a similar fate this year.
When skiing governing body FIS inspected the Sljeme hill on Boxing Day, there was “no more than 20 percent snow on the course,” Croatian ski federation spokesman Vedran Pavlek said.
However, as temperatures finally started to fall below zero, organizers could start to produce sufficient artificial snow just in time.
A men’s night slalom on the same course is scheduled for Tuesday.
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