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The U.S. Ski Team on Tuesday issued the following press release on Mikaela Shiffrin of Edwards winning her 94th World Cup race — a night slalom in Flachau, Austria:
It was an emotional night in Flachau, Austria with Stifel U.S. Ski Team athlete Mikaela Shiffrin earning her 94th World Cup victory, 81st slalom podium and 57th slalom victory. With her 81st slalom podium, she tied alpine ski racing legend Ingemar Stenmark for the most slalom podiums in history.
The emotions at the finish were not because of the win but because of the week Shiffrin had leading up to the win. This past Saturday, Dec. 13 in Wengen, Switzerland, her boyfriend, Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, crashed on one of the most dangerous downhills on the men’s circuit, the Lauberhorn. Kilde had to be airlifted by helicopter to nearby Bern, Switzerland for emergency surgery to tend to his injuries.
At the time, Shiffrin was taking time off from racing, focusing on illness recovery and forgoing a speed series in Zuuchensee, Austria. Not long after she got the news of the severity of Kilde’s injuries, she hopped on a plane and flew to Bern, Switzerland. She spent Saturday night and most of Sunday at the hospital, sleeping on pillows on the floor to be by his side for the short amount of time she could be there – but she was not going to miss the upcoming night slalom in Falchau, a race that she ultimately ended up winning.
“I could either be with Aleks right now, or I could come race, and if I was going to come race, then it wasn’t going to be for nothing,” Shiffrin said. “The last three days, it feels like I lived a lifetime.”
Shiffrin’s slalom rival, Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, didn’t go down without a fight in the race, having won the first run. But Shiffrin made up a time deficit from first run to win by 0.27 seconds and grab her fifth victory in Flachau. Vlhova was second and Sweden’s Sara Hector third.
“I’m very proud of this evening, and I’m very thankful for my whole team,” Shiffrin said through tears as she spoke to the crowd in the wake of her victory. “These last days have been very challenging, and they’ve been so supportive and helped me go see Aleks… and thank you all for cheering.”
Shiffrin and Vlhova have continued to dominate World Cup slalom skiing, having won 13 of the last 14 World Cup slalom events. All seven of this season’s slaloms were won by Shiffrin and Vlhova; Shiffrin has four victories and Vlhova has three. In Flachau alone, each of the last six slaloms were won by Vlhova or Shiffrin, stretching back to 2017.
“It’s a pretty special time in ski racing,” she added. “And I’m thankful that I’m able to have a career where I’ve been able to race against multiple athletes who are the greatest of all time. It’s not always easy, but it’s special.”
Stifel U.S. Ski Team teammate AJ Hurt sat in ninth after the first run, another blazing fast time for the slalom up-and-comer, but was unable to hang out through the first section of the second run and did not finish. Paula Moltzan laid down the fastest time in the first section of the course on her first run, setting a high standard for the night’s race of a time to beat. Unfortunately, Moltzan pushed her limit and skied out of the course early on in the race. Lila Lapanja also skied out and did not finish first run.
Later this week, the women’s tech team heads to Jasna, Slovakia to tackle yet another giant slalom and slalom series, this time in front of Vlhova’s fan base. Tune in to skiandsnowboard.live to watch this weekend’s race series on Jan. 20 and 21.