Mikaela Shiffrin, a 27-year-old skier from Vail, Colorado, is only two wins away from breaking the record for the most ever FIS Alpine Ski World Cup wins. Shiffrin, whose parents were both ski racers, started skiing at the age of two and made her World Cup debut at 15. In her youth, she notably won both the slalom and giant slalom at the Topolino Games in Italy at just 14 years old. Her success continued, resulting in her victory in the final alpine skiing contest at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in 2014, and she became the youngest women’s slalom champion in Olympic history at 17 years old. While Shiffrin stands unmatched in the slalom, her versatility sets her apart from the rest. She remains the only skier, male or female, to win races in all six World Cup disciplines: combined, downhill, giant slalom, slalom, parallel, and super-G.
On Saturday, Jan. 28, in the Czech Republic, Shiffrin drew one win closer to breaking Ingemar Stenmark’s 34-year-old record for the most World Cup wins: 86. She began the race with a 0.29-second lead after the opening run, laying the foundation for her victory. In the second, her lead decreased, losing one-tenth of her advantage after taking a few wide turns, but Shiffrin sped up, gaining time on other racers during a difficult passage and narrowly beating Lena Dürr, a 31-year-old skier from Germany, by 0.61 seconds, resulting in her victory. This marked her third win within one week, a nostalgic victory at the same location as her professional debut 12 years before.
When reflecting on her win, Shiffrin noted, “I knew it would take some risk, and there’s a chance that I don’t finish at all, but I have to do my best turns to have a chance because these women are so strong…I was able to really carry a lot of speed at the end of the course. In the end, I felt very good on my run.” She continued, “Today, it was just an amazing day. From the moment I woke up, I felt good and ready to go. And I was so happy with how I skied.”
Even with Shiffrin’s incredible achievements, her success was not always consistent. Last February, Shiffrin entered the Beijing Winter Olympics with a realistic chance of winning three gold medals for Team U.S.A. Unfortunately, Shiffrin failed to bring home a single medal, cutting the dream short. She failed to complete three of her six races, crashing at just the fifth gate in both the slalom and giant slalom. Following disappointment last year, Shiffrin made a remarkable comeback, winning 11 races this season, which she only surpassed in the 2017-18 season with 12 wins and in 2018-2019 with a record 17 wins.
Although her race on Jan. 28 was the last slalom before the Feb. 6-19 World Championships in France, Shiffrin will compete in races in four of the six disciplines: Combined, Super G, giant slalom, and slalom. She will have the opportunity to expand her ever-increasing medal collection and continue setting new records.
(Sources: Five Thirty-Eight, NPR, U.S. News, USA Today, CNN, Olympics)
Categories: International Sports, Sports
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