Mikaela Shiffrin becomes the sole record holder in alpine ski racing. The dethroned Ingemar Stenmark begrudges her. Are remains a special place for the American.
Pride, gratitude, disbelief – Mikaela Shiffrin had a bit of everything. The elegant dance through the Are slalom poles to the 87th World Cup victory was followed by a roller coaster ride of emotions.
Since Saturday, the American has been the most successful ski racer in history. With her triumph in Sweden, Shiffrin became the sole record holder and left the former technology specialist Ingemar Stenmark, with whom she had previously shared the top of the all-time list, behind – exactly twelve years to the day after her World Cup debut. In a place that evokes an “incredible mix of feelings” in her, as the exceptional athlete from Colorado reported.
She can hardly believe that she now has one more win than the Swede Stenmark, said Shiffrin. She would like to thank everyone who has supported her in her career so far. It wasn’t always easy. It looked so easy when, one day after her victory in the giant slalom, she also meandered through the slalom as if from one piece between the bars and ultimately put almost a second between herself and the second-placed Swiss Wendy Holdener. Third place went to local hero Anna Swenn Larsson.
At the finish, Shiffrin, who turns 28 this Monday, first put her hands in front of her face in disbelief and then squatted for several seconds. As impressive as the numbers of her career read, the pressure that always accompanies Shiffrin on the slopes is just as great. She has now won 53 World Cups in slalom, 20 in giant slalom, three in downhill, one in combined and five each in super-G and parallel races.
“Hats off. It’s crazy to have such consistency in so many disciplines over the years,” said German hopeful Lena Dürr. The 31-year-old, who took bronze at the World Championships in France in February, improved two places after a faulty first heat and finished sixth. She is looking forward to the season finale in Andorra, which begins on Wednesday, said Dürr. Her teammates Emma Aicher and Jessica Hilzinger are also qualified for this, taking places 11 and 20 this time.
Of course, Shiffrin travels to Soldeu as the big favorite. The fact that she already crowned her record hunt in Are fits in with the American’s cinematic career. Here she celebrated her first World Cup victory in December 2012. Here she suffered her first serious injury in the 2015/2016 season. Here she won World Championship gold in 2019 and was the first skier to win four World Championship titles in a row in one discipline. Here she wanted to make her comeback after the accidental death of her father Jeff in 2020 before the season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Setbacks on the way up
Shiffrin also had to cope with setbacks on her steep way up. It’s remarkable what top form she’s in nearly a year after China’s medalless Olympic drama. She has already celebrated 13 victories this season, six of them in her favorite discipline, slalom. She has long since secured her fifth overall World Cup victory, and the small crystal globes for the best slalom and giant slalom skier of the winter can no longer be taken from her. At the World Championships in February, she won three more medals – and parted ways with her long-term coach Mike Day.
Ex-ski star Stenmark had recently emphasized several times how much he begrudge Shiffrin the record. The seven-time world champion reported that she had frequent contact with the now 66-year-old and that he had sent her several video messages. Quite a few experts trust Shiffrin to break the mark of 100 World Cup victories in the long term. “Keep raising the bar, now higher than anyone before,” wrote her former teammate Lindsey Vonn, who has 82 World Cup victories herself, on social media. Shiffrin will probably not disappoint her.
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