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The International Ski Federation on Saturday issued the following press release on the 85th World Cup victory in the remarkable career of Mikaela Shiffrin of Edwards, who now stands just one win away from tying the all-time mark of 86 wins by Ingemar Stenmark:
The first time Mikaela Shiffrin raced in Spindleruv Mlyn in 2011, on her World Cup debut just days before her 16th birthday, she didn’t qualify for the second run in either giant slalom or slalom.
Things have changed a bit since then for Shiffrin, who is now on the cusp of becoming the greatest Alpine ski racer in history.
Racing in the Czech resort for only the second time since that innocuous beginning, Shiffrin won Saturday’s slalom to claim her 85th World Cup victory and move within one of the all-time record held by Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark.
The American superstar continued her otherworldly recent form by cruising to her third win this week, finishing well ahead of Germany’s Lena Duerr (+0.60s) and Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener (+1.31s).
“I have a lot of memories here,” said Shiffrin, who also won a slalom in Spindleruv Mlyn in 2019.
“We don’t race here every year but it was my first World Cup race, and I think it was four years ago the last time we were here and that was also an amazing race for me.”
Saturday’s win was Shiffrin’s ninth victory in her last 14 races, as she has produced some of the best skiing of her stellar career over the last month.
“I felt very good with my skiing, from the first turns I made this morning, I was on point and ready to be aggressive on the slope,” she said. “So that’s how I wish every race would feel.”
Skiing last in the second run with a 0.29s advantage over provisional leader Duerr, Shiffrin didn’t hold back and despite making a couple of small errors at the top of the course, she recovered and powered home to win by over half a second.
“There’s a chance I don’t finish at all, but I have to do my best turns if I want to have a chance because these women are so strong,” Shiffrin said.
Shiffrin’s win was her 11th of the season so far, the fourth time she has won at least that many races in a single campaign. It was also her fifth victory in nine slalom races this season.
While the American star keeps piling up the wins, Duerr was delighted with her season-best result of second, finishing as the only skier within a second of Shiffrin’s combined time.
“It was really fun, the slope is perfect, the crowd is really loud so it was a fun day,” the 31-year-old German said.
Even though she might have still reached the podium with a cautious approach to the second run, Duerr risked it all in search of that elusive first classic slalom win.
“The (second run) course was set a little bit easier than the first run,” she said. “On the steep you had to let the skis go. It was not that turny and I tried this, and it worked out pretty well.”
Duerr’s impressive second run pushed Holdener into third, but that was a result the Swiss racer thought was out of reach after a first run that saw her over a second behind Shiffrin in fourth.
“I wasn’t that happy with my first run, I thought it’s not enough to be on the podium,” she said.
“So I just skied for myself (in the second run), I wanted to give everything I have, so it’s amazing to be here now.”
Holdener’s second-run charge moved her up one spot at the expense of Petra Vlhova, who finished fourth in front of an army of Slovakian fans who had crossed the border into the Czech Republic to cheer her on.
Vlhova has a second chance to reward her fans in Sunday’s slalom, but all eyes will be on Shiffrin as she attempts to tie Stenmark’s record that has stood since 1989, six years before Shiffrin was born.
“Eighty-five is like the icing on the cake and if I get 86, I don’t know if it’s going to be tomorrow,” Shiffrin said.
“I think these other athletes have a chance to win it so we’re going to have to find out tomorrow.”