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EagleVail’s Mikaela Shiffrin now owns the record for the most World Cup wins in a single season, dominating both runs of slalom Saturday at Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic, for her 15th victory this season and the 58th of her career.
Her 15th win came on a course where Shiffrin made her World Cup debute at the age of 15 in 2011.
And it was not even close as the 23-year-old topped second-place Wendy Holdener by .85 seconds and third-place Petra Vlhova by more than two seconds.
Shiffrin had already won the season-long slalom globe (her sixth) and her third-straight overall globe but was gunning for that single-season victory mark set by retired Swiss great Vreni Schneider during the 1988-89 season, when Schneider also won three medals at the 1989 World Alpine Ski Championships in Vail – six years before Shiffrin was born in Vail.
Heading into next week’s World Cup Finals at Soldeu, Andorra, Shiffrin has already turned in the greatest season ever by any ski racer – male of female – with three medals of her own at the 2019 World Alpine Ski Championships in Are, Sweden, including golds in slalom and super-G.
Shiffrin, who is expected to race in the slalom, GS and super-G, can still add the giant slalom and super-G season globes to her trophy case in Andorra. And she can add up to three more wins to her single-season record.
With 15, Shiffrin could conceivably, in just one season, tie Tamra McKinney’s career mark of 18 — third best among American women behind Vail’s Lindsey Vonn (82) and Shiffrin (58). Shiffrin has more wins in one season than all but five American ski racers tallied in their careers: Vonn, McKinney, Ted Ligety (25), Phil Mahre (27) and Bode Miller (33).
Shiffrin was third in the GS Friday in Spindleruv Mlyn after a shaky first run, leaving her 97 points ahead of Vlhova in the season GS chase with just one race to go. World Cup winners pick up 100 points, followed by 80 for second, 60 for third and so on.
“Yesterday (…) I felt disappointment from the first (run),” Shiffrin said Saturday, according to the Associated Press. “So today I wanted to not protect something, like ski with risks, ski to fight, and see what was possible. It was really fun to ski, both runs.”
Saturday marked the 39th slalom win of Shiffrin’s career – one shy of the all-time World Cup mark of 40 held by Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark.
Here’s the press release from U.S. Ski and Snowboard:
After experiencing so much success in one season, it’s hard to believe there could be any more records to break, but Mikaela Shiffrin (Avon, Colo.) made history once again on Saturday in Špindlerův Mlýn, Czech Republic when she earned her 15th FIS Ski World Cup victory of the season, and her career 58th win.
On a snowy first run, Shiffrin came out of the gate charging, and took a lead by nearly four tenths over Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener. Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter was in third by 1.28 seconds, and – after winning yesterday’s giant slalom – Slovakian rival Petra Vlhova was in fourth with a massive 1.33 second margin. After taking third place in Friday’s giant slalom, Shiffrin came to charge Saturday, proving that she is the best in the world. With the slalom and overall titles already in the bag, Shiffrin was skiing free of expectations and pressure. And that was certainly noticeable.
The snow subsided for second run, but the springlike conditions persisted. The volunteers and organizing committee at the venue did everything they could and worked hard hosing the track down and salting it, to ensure that it would hold up. Vlhova came down with a strong run and took the lead by six tenths, then it was Hansdotter’s turn. She struggled in the top section and fell back, out of contention for a podium position “Sendy” Wendy Holdener – who has not been second on a slalom podium this season – charged and skied blazing fast, into first by 1.2 seconds. Then, it was Shiffrin’s turn…and it was just her against the mountain. Building her lead the entire way down, Shiffrin crossed the finish line to a roaring Czech crowd nearly a second – .85 seconds to be exact – ahead of Holdener to take her historic 15th victory.
“That was a really cool day,” reflected Shiffrin after the race. “I felt no pressure with globes, standings, or that kind of thing…just that I really wanted to ski two really aggressive runs and I knew it was going to be bumpy in the second run. It was really important for me to be tough enough – in my mind – ‘I could still go really hard in the second run and be athletic and handle the bumps, and do my very best. I was thinking that if I take this risk maybe I will not be able to finish, but I want to try that – because I have nothing to lose.'” And take risks she did. “I was able to get to the finish, and it was a super cool day.”
It only seemed fitting that on the same track Shiffrin skied her first-ever World Cup slalom in 2011 as a mere 15-year-old, she’d break yet another record, and this time, a big one: Vreni Schneider’s season win record of 14 victories. Shiffrin secured the 15th World Cup victory of what has been a storybook season. This is an achievement no man or woman has ever done before. The ever-understated Shiffrin, who has won 38 victories in the last three seasons, still seems to be surprising herself with the success.
“What can I say…that’s crazy,” Shiffrin laughed. “If you told me eight years ago at this race – my first race in World Cup – that I would be in this position right now, I wouldn’t believe it. It’s really, really special. My whole team – we’re celebrating it a lot – because it’s been an amazing year, it’s been an amazing career so far. But, at the same time, records are meant to be broken, and maybe me achieving this one will inspire a little girl who could beat my record someday. That’s what’s really important to me.”
The atmosphere in Špindlerův Mlýn was incredible, and the organizing committee is really making an effort to show that they want the World Cup back here in the Czech Republic sooner than later. The athletes loved it, too. “It’s a really, really good crowd here,” commented Shiffrin. “I know they want to see Petra on top, but they’re still cheering for me, they’re cheering for Wendy, they’re cheering for everyone and that’s a really special feeling to see these people who care about the sport so much and you can really see this passion. It makes it easy to really love doing this.”
Veteran Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, Wyo.), who returned to World Cup action in Maribor, Slovenia after sustaining a knee injury in St Moritz, Switzerland earlier this season also started on Saturday, but did not qualify for the second run.
Up next, the women will travel to Soldeu, Andorra for World Cup Finals, where Shiffrin is expected to contend for both the super-G and giant slalom globes to add to her already overwhelming and nearly inconceivable collection of records, medals and trophies this season.
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
Saturday, March 9
6:00 p.m. – Women’s slalom run 2 – Spindleruv Mlyn, CZE – NBCSN*
Sunday, March 10
4:30 a.m. – Men’s slalom run 1 – Kranjska Gora, SLO – OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. – Men’s slalom run 2 – Kranjska Gora, SLO – Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold