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EagleVail’s Shiffrin clinches record-tying third straight overall title … without racing

March 2, 2019, 1:02 pm
Mikaela Shiffrin has clinched her third-straight FIS Ski World Cup overall title, and there’s still three weeks of racing left. (Alain Grosclaude/Getty Images)

EagleVail’s Mikaela Shiffrin tied the American record for the most consecutive overall World Cup ski-racing titles on Saturday, joining Phil Mahre and Vail’s Lindsey Vonn with her third straight season-long crystal globe. And Shiffrin, 23, didn’t even have to race to do it.

While taking the last couple of weeks off to rest and rejuvenate, Shiffrin mathematically clinched the overall globe with at least four races left on her schedule. The rest of the women’s circuit is struggling through weather-delayed speed events at Rosa Khutor near Sochi, Russia.

Now just one shy of tying the recently retired Vonn’s American mark of four overall crowns, Shiffrin is expected to return to action next weekend for slalom and giant slalom races in the Czech Republic.

On the men’s side, Austria’s Marcel Hirscher has yet to clinch but is virtually assured of his record eighth straight overall title.

Here’s the U.S. Ski and Snowboard press release on Shiffrin’s third overall title:

Overall Title Three-Peat For Shiffrin

For the third straight year, Mikaela Shiffrin (Avon, Colo.) has secured the FIS Ski World Cup overall title, and she secured it while taking time off from the World Cup circuit, to rest, recharge and train in both Italy and the Czech Republic – rather than traveling to Sochi, Russia, which has struggled with cancellations the last four days.

It’s been a historical year of record-breaking for Shiffrin, who – in an IGTV post on Saturday – called it a “pretty crazy” to secure the overall, as she sat on her bed in a hotel room in the Italy, not racing. “It’s strange because, I feel like right here right now, I didn’t do something this morning…” Shiffrin laughed. “…And I’m like ‘Oh, here you go – you woke up today, here’s an overall globe!’ But, at the same time, this entire season has been spectacular…a bit push. Every race has been a fight, but it’s been incredible.

Shiffrin won her first overall globe in Aspen on home soil in 2017, and followed that up – along with the slalom title and two Olympic medals, in the 2018 season to hoist up her second-straight overall globe in Åre, Sweden. The one big goal of Shiffrin’s has been the giant slalom title, and though it was within reach in 2018, she ended up third behind Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg and France’s Tessa Worley. She was also fifth in the downhill standings in 2018. But this season…this season has been one for the books.

Shiffrin currently – and depending on what happens with Sunday’s super-G in Sochi, Russia – will likely enter the final tech series in Špindlerův Mlýn with the overall and slalom titles secured, as well as lead in giant slalom and super-G. Last season, she finished with 1,773 points in the overall standings. This season, with at least four – if not five starts left for Shiffrin – she already has 1,794 points. Is she going for the overall points record? Nope. But, just like every record she’s broken or matched this season, she’ll probably get close. Her secret?! She’s not focusing on the result, she’s focusing on the process.

A combination of things led to Shiffrin securing the overall title as she actually took time away from the World Cup tour. With a 719-point advantage over Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, Vlhova not traveling to Sochi as well, and Saturday’s super-G being canceled, it was clear that Shiffrin had clinched it. “Races are canceled, certain people are not at those races, so the points get all wound up in different ways, so all of a sudden – there ya have it,” she said.

“The overall globe has been one of the biggest dreams of mine since I was a little girl,” noted Shiffrin. “This year it’s even something, maybe even more special, because a fair portion of my wins have come in super-G…and I always felt like the overall globe can mean ‘Best in the World’ but I wanted to be able to earn it in all events. I’m still working on getting to the point where I can earn it in slalom, GS, super-G AND downhill…but I felt like this season was a really big step. It’s been a little grueling, but also insanely gratifying.”

Shiffrin has broken so many records this season, it’s getting hard to keep track. But, yes – I have kept track, of course. It is my job, after all.

So, here goes…

2018-19 Season Accolades

  • First super-G win in Lake Louise, making ski racing history by becoming the first-ever athlete – male or female – to win in all six currently contested FIS Ski World Cup alpine disciplines.
  • She’s won every super-G she’s entered this season – three World Cup victories (Lake Louise, St. Moritz and Cortina), and one World Championship victory (Are)
  • First ski racer – male or female – to win 15 World Cup races in a calendar year (2018)
  • Women’s slalom World Cup win record (38 – second only to Ingemar Stenmark with 40 – and could match Stenmark, as she has two slalom starts left on the season)
  • Fifth on the all-time World Cup win list (57 – Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Proell is fourth, with 62 victories)
  • 14 World Cup victories on the season (so far) – tied with Vreni Schneider’s record for wins in a single season (she has at least four more chances this season)
  • 2019 Super-G World Champion
  • 2019 Slalom World Champion – first athlete – male or female – to win four successive world titles in a discipline (quite a heroic win, as she did it while she was ill with a chest infection)
  • 2019 giant slalom bronze medalist
  • Locked in the slalom title already for the season, with her last victory at the City Event in Stockholm – 2019 slalom title holder (sixth in seven years – only year missing was 2016, when she was injured – and she was still fourth in the standings)
  • Current overall, super-G, and giant slalom standings leader
  • This is something that’s pretty impressive…
  • Worlds – Gold Medal Count
    • Norway 2
    • Switzerland 2
    • Mikaela 2
    • Austria 1
  • This is Mikaela’s winning and podium percentage on the season:
    • 24 races, with 20 podiums (including 2019 World Champs giant slalom bronze), 16 of which were wins (including 2019 World Champs super-G and slalom victories). There’s an 83% chance Mikaela will podium a race she enters this season, and a 67% chance she’ll win. Across six disciplines: slalom, parallel slalom, giant slalom, alpine combined, super-G and downhill.

Shiffrin’s main goal has been conquering the challenging giant slalom discipline. In the seven World Cup giant slalom races she’s participated in this season (including World Championships), her worst finish has been fifth. She’s podiumed five times and won three times. She currently leads friend Worley by 81 points in the giant slalom standings, and Vlhova by

137 points. “The final goal of mine for this year was the giant slalom globe,” Shiffrin said on Saturday. “I guess we’ll see in the next couple of races how that goes…” Keep in mind, she’s leading the super-G standings and it’s not on her radar at this point. What an amazing season Shiffrin has had!

“Most dominant” are words that have been thrown around by numerous notable journalists and publications, from the Washington Post to USA Today, as Shiffrin blazes her own path and has broken into mainstream media discussion this season. And yet still, she remains down to earth, congratulatory to her competitors and gracious both in victory and in defeat, and focused on the process – not the result.

While in Cortina after her second third super-G win of the season, she and I had a conversation about how her former teammate – and legend of the sport – Bode Miller approached his craft. If he won but did not ski his best, he was bummed. If he was second but he skied his best, he was happy. She identifies with that. So, for Shiffrin – who breaks records every time she hits the mountain – her focus will remain on skiing her best…and with this strategy and the way it’s been going so far, the success is bound to follow. What will she do to celebrate? A happy dance, perhaps?

“I could go jump around and do a little happy dance and that,” she said. “I feel like nobody really needs to see that. It’s just, it’s pretty crazy.” 

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