Mikaela Shiffrin ties Lindsey Vonn’s record with 82nd World Cup win
KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia – Emotions welled up for Mikaela Shiffrin as she equaled Lindsey Vonn’s women’s ski World Cup record with her 82nd victory on Sunday.
First there was a whoop of joy after a bad case of nerves that had been building up inside her all day. Then came the tears during the performance of the American anthem when her thoughts turned to her father, Jeff, who died three years ago.
“My dad used to be there and take pictures. At most races these days, I think about him and I can focus again,” Shiffrin said. “But when I’m singing the national anthem [it’s different]. It was right before I won my first World Cup, he told me, ‘You better memorize the words to the national anthem, because if you ever win, you better sing it.’ And that’s why I always think of him when I’m there.”
There was also an emotional hug between Shiffrin and her mother, Eileen, who has coached the skier since childhood and has been with her daughter every step of the way since her first World Cup victory just over a decade ago.
Shiffrin led from start to finish to win a giant slalom by a wide margin. He can now break Vonn’s mark in a night slalom scheduled for Tuesday in Flachau, Austria.
“I was so nervous this race. I have a rash on my face, I was so nervous,” Shiffrin said. “I don’t know why, maybe a little bit was because of the 82. I really wanted to ski well, and I did.”
Where other skiers struggled on a dark, rutted and unusually steep course, Shiffrin was able to ski without issue.
“It was a fight. But in pretty amazing conditions, I got a report from the trainers and they said, ‘He’s really attackable, so go ahead,'” he said. “I’ve been in this position before and given it away, and today I wanted to fight for it.”
Already with eight wins this season, Shiffrin is also fast approaching Ingemar Stenmark’s overall record, between men and women, of 86 wins.
Vonn retired four years ago when injuries ended his pursuit of the Stenmark record. She wrote in an AP journal that “if someone is going to break my record, I’m very happy it’s an American.”
Shiffrin and Vonn now each have 20 more wins than the next woman on the all-time list, Austria’s 62-year-old Annemarie Moser-Pröll.
While the oft-injured Vonn required 395 runs for her 82 wins, Shiffrin has done it in 233 starts. At 27, Shiffrin could compete for several more years and win many more races.
“I knew from the start that she would be the one to break all the records,” Vonn wrote. “But to be able to do it at such a young age is really impressive.”
Shiffrin’s achievement comes nearly a year after a disappointing performance at the Beijing Olympics, when she competed in six events without winning a medal.
However, winning this race never seemed in doubt.
On an overcast morning, Shiffrin was first out and put in a much more aggressive opening run than either of her two trips up the steep Podkoren course on Saturday, when she finished tied for sixth.
“I couldn’t ski faster,” Shiffrin said after his first run. “I felt much, much better this first race than yesterday. I had to try and change my feeling from yesterday. He was very good skiing, and I’m happy with that.”
Shiffrin was the last skier to start the second race and increased her lead at each checkpoint to finish 0.77 seconds ahead of Italy’s Federica Brignone and 0.97 ahead of Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami.
“It was almost perfect,” Brignone said. “When he skis like that, he’s unbeatable.”
Gut-Behrami, reigning world giant slalom champion and Olympic super-giant champion, added: “It’s nice to have these athletes who are making history. Without it, we wouldn’t be so addicted to the sport.”
With few American fans at the race near the Italian border, supporters of Slovakian rival Petra Vlhova cheered loudly for Shiffrin. Some children were waving American flags and relatives of Paula Moltzan, another American skier, were present wearing US hockey jerseys.
Shiffrin also edged out Moser-Pröll and France’s Tessa Worley with her 17th giant slalom win for second on the women’s race list, behind only Vreni Schneider, the Swiss skier who won 20.
New Zealand skier Alice Robinson took a nasty fall during her second run, crashing face-first into the snow, but quickly got up and skied to the bottom.