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Shiffrin finds sweet redemption in claiming her fourth overall World Cup title

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March 17, 2022, 6:46 am
Mikaela Shiffrin of Edwards was all smiles Thursday after claiming her fourth overall World Cup title (photo by NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP via Getty Images).

Mikaela Shiffrin of Edwards on Thursday accomplished something only two other female ski racers have achieved in the history of the sport, securing her fourth overall World Cup title to tie former Vail resident Lindsey Vonn for the all-time American record in the season-long chase for the most points.

Mikaela Shiffrin

Only Austrian legend Annemarie Moser-Proell’s six overall titles surpass what the 27-year-old Shiffrin has been able to do in a career that seems far from nearing its end.

Shiffrin, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the technical events of slalom and giant slalom (2014 and 2018), bounced backed incredibly from the disappointment of achieving no Olympic medals at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to secure the overall title at the World Cup Finals in the speed events of downhill and super-G.

Of her 74 career World Cup wins (second only to Vonn’s 82 among women), Shiffrin has just three in downhill and four in super-G.

The all-time greatest slalom skier with 47 career victories in that discipline, Shiffrin didn’t let the overall chase for the giant crystal globe come down to that discipline over the weekend. She put the chase away in the speed events with a win in Wednesday’s downhill and a second-place finish in Thursday’s super-G.

The defending overall champion, Petra Vlhova of Slovakia — who has been better than Shiffrin in slalom all season, including winning the Olympic gold in the event in Beijing — finished outside of the points in both speed events in Courchevel, France, essentially handing the big globe to Shiffrin.

After Shiffrin grabbed 80 points by finishing second to Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel by a mere .05 seconds on Thursday, Vlhova needed to finish seventh or better to stay in the overall hunt but instead wound up 17th and out of the points in the World Cup Finals format that only awards points for the top 15 instead of the top 30.

Shiffrin leads Vlhova now by 236 points with just slalom and GS remaining this weekend, and winners earn 100 points per race.

Shiffrin’s boyfriend, Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who on Wednesday secured the smaller downhill crystal globe, also locked up the super-G globe on Thursday.

For Shiffrin, the giant overall globe came two years late. She was leading the chase for what would have been an American record fourth consecutive overall title in February of 2020 when her father Jeff died after an accident at their Edwards home.

Shiffrin took time away from skiing as Federica Brignone of Italy claimed the giant crystal globe that season. Last season, Vlhova raced every event to win the overall title as Shiffrin eased back into the sport, battling her grief and a back injury.

Brignone, the first Italian woman to win the overall title, claimed the super-G discipline globe on Thursday.

Shiffrin seems to be at the top of her game as an overall skier, finding new form in the speed events even as the competition has caught up to her somewhat in the tech events. She’ll be relatively young 30 at the next Winter Olympics in the more traditional venue of Cortina, Italy, in 2026 after three straight Winter Games in non-traditional Asian venues in Russia, South Korea and China. The Olympics are also likely to return to nearby Salt Lake City, Utah in either 2030 or 2034.

Shiffrin still emerged from Beijing tied for the most American Olympic gold medals ever and just one short of the American record for the most Olympic medals period. It remains to be seen if those marks and Vonn’s all-time women’s victory record and the men’s mark of 86 held by Ingemar Stenmark will motivate her to continue chasing history on the circuit.

But she seems to have found new joy sharing the sport with her boyfriend and fellow Olympic medalist Kilde, who greeted her with a hug and kiss after her downhill win on Wednesday.

Here’s the press release on Thursday’s super-G from the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team:

Two-time Olympic champion and six-time world champion Mikaela Shiffrin finished second in Thursday’s super-G at World Cup Finals in Courchevel/Meribel, France, clinching her fourth career overall Crystal Globe, a little earlier than expected. Slovakian rival Petra Vlhova finished outside of the points in 17th, making it mathematically impossible to catch Shiffrin in the remaining two races of the FIS Ski World Cup Finals. 

Conditions were not necessarily ideal for Shiffrin. Challenging light, warm temperatures, and a soft surface on an open and straight super-G set did not play into her technical skills. But in the end, it didn’t matter. Shiffrin carried her confidence from Wednesday’s downhill victory to the super-G, finishing a mere .05 seconds behind Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel. Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin finished in third, .13 off the pace. Vlhova was 1.39 seconds out. The super-G title winner, Italy’s Federica Brignone, finished in 19th, 1.64 seconds out. 

Despite the highs and lows of this season, Shiffrin admits she found some “really nice moments” during the last couple of races. She found joy in skiing to her career fourth overall title and 120th career podium. With the title, Shiffrin tied former teammate Lindsey Vonn with four overall titles. Among women, only Annemarie Moser-Pröll has more overall titles (six). When asked if this victory was more memorable than the others, given the challenges of the season, Shiffrin said, “It’s hard to compare them all…they’re all special, but this season has been one of the most confusing seasons I’ve ever had. I felt motivation, I felt triumph…but I also had some tough moments…this COVID time and different things that were difficult to deal with. That carried through the Olympics, and carried right until now.”

Shiffrin herself is still surprised with Wednesday’s downhill victory, admitting, “I never would say I’d be a threat to win downhills again after the last two seasons…I can perform well, maybe get some points…but I wouldn’t say that I had the right mentality or emotional or mental energy to push in downhill in a way you have to do to win.” She continued, “And, there’s maybe some conditions and how things came together for yesterday and today that suited me very well, so that was a perfect opportunity, and I can’t believe it worked out that way.” 

Looking ahead to the tech events on Saturday and Sunday, Shiffrin acknowledged that the conditions with the soft snow are not her ideal conditions, but she is looking forward to going out and just skiing. “We have two more races this season to hopefully ski well…and most importantly, just try to enjoy it,” she said. “It’s certainly not the conditions I normally love in either GS or slalom, but I think I can ski well if I’m working on the right things, so I can take it even as training days to practice how I perform in races on these conditions as well. So, that could be quite fun and could be something to enjoy, and I really appreciate that.” 

Brignone won the super-G title with 506 points, followed by teammate Elena Curtoni (390). Shiffrin ended up third in the super-G season standings, with 380 points. 

Austria’s Vincent Kriechmayr won on the men’s side, followed by Swiss Marco Odermatt in second, .53 seconds back. Switzerland’s Gino Caviezel rounded out the podium in third, .75 back. Olympic silver medalist Ryan Cochran-Siegle led the way for the Americans in seventh place, with Travis Ganong in 20th. In doing so, Cochran-Siegle snuck into the top 10 in the super-G season standings, along with the downhill season standings. Ganong ended up 14th in the season super-G standings. 

Aamodt Kilde won the super-G globe with 530 points, followed by Odermatt with 402 points. Vincent Kriechmayr ended up third, with 375 points. Swiss Marco Odermatt clinched the overall Crystal Globe over Aamodt Kilde on Wednesday. 

Up next is the mixed team event on Friday. The U.S. will not field a team. On Saturday, River Radamus will take on the giant slalom, and Mikaela Shiffrin and Paula Moltzan will represent the U.S. in the slalom. 

RESULTS
Women’s super-G
Men’s super-G

STANDINGS

Women
Women’s super-G
Women’s overall

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