Another Victory And A Huge Milestone For Shiffrin
Skiing her best is the most important thing to Mikaela Shiffrin (Avon, Colo.), but numbers, not so much. Saturday’s slalom victory may not have been her best skiing, but it resulted in a huge win - FIS Ski World Cup victory number 50 in Courchevel, France.
“I was trying as hard as I could not to focus on that today because it’s so distracting to think about those numbers for me and it’s always a mental battle just to focus on my skiing,” Shiffrin said. “I’m really happy, and maybe a bit lucky today with the win again. I was watching the first run - Petra (Vlhova, Slovakia) skied better than I did. I don’t know how I snuck away with the lead on the first run, but it was a big battle with Frida (Hansdotter, Sweden) second run, Petra second run, so I’m lucky and I’m grateful.”
And pretty darn fast too! Shiffrin took slim .04-second first-run over lead over Vlhova. In the second run, she dropped .04-seconds behind Vlhova at the second intermediate split. But in her typical fast-finishing fashion, Shiffrin hit the gas and edged-out Vlhova by .29 seconds for the victory. Hansdotter was third, at .37 back.
How big is her 50th career World Cup victory? Huge! Just look at the stats:
- She is the youngest racer to ever win 50 World Cup races
- She tied the great Italian racer Alberto Tomba on the all-time win list with her 50th World Cup victory
- She has 35 World Cup slalom wins, which equals that of her childhood hero Marlies Schild, whom she now shares the record with for the most World Cup slalom victories
- Her 50th World Cup win also launched her to a massive 501-point lead in the overall World Cup standings
- She has won five World Cup races in a row, in four different disciplines (slalom, parallel slalom, giant slalom and super-G) in the last 21 days
- She is tied with Marcel Hirscher for a record 14 wins in a calendar year
But again, these are just numbers that don’t necessarily motivate Shiffrin but do bring a smile to her face.
“I have to focus on my skiing and those numbers can be a really big distraction for me. It’s not really motivating, it feels more like pressure,” she said. “But now after the race, I can say it’s really an incredible thing, and I’m happy.”
Regardless of the milestones, Shiffrin admits that her success is not hers alone. It belongs to a solid team of supporters, and especially her coaches.
“Behind every athlete is such a big structure of people who are helping, sponsors, and family and friends, and especially the coaches,” Shiffrin said. “And for me when I’m looking at my coaches...I know that they have a one-thousand-percent belief in me. (Friday) and (Saturday) I believed in myself, but I could look at them and say ‘you did your job, now it’s time for me to do mine.’ It’s just the coolest feeling knowing our team is always working so hard. It’s not just me, it’s everybody...and they do their job so well and I’m really grateful for that.”
Paula Moltzan (Burlington, Vt.) may be racing in the shadow of one of the greatest racers of all time in Shiffrin, but the World Cup leader was pretty stoked to see her put down a career-best World Cup result in 15th place. In fact, Moltzan - who skis for the University of Vermont, in addition to representing America on the global stage - posted the fourth-fastest second run, just .16 behind Shiffrin.
“We saw that her skiing was really good in Killington (Vermont), and she always has this style that’s...really athletic,” Shiffrin said of Moltzan. “And today I was watching her second run and...I was thinking ‘that, was amazing, really nice skiing.’ She was smooth, she was accelerating, she was calm...and that’s super cool to see and I’m excited for her.”
Up next, the women’s World Cup circuit takes a few days off for the Christmas holiday, resuming Dec. 28-29 with giant slalom and slalom event.
Women’s World Cup
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST.
*Same-day delayed broadcast
Saturday, Dec. 22
2:30 p.m. - Women’s slalom, Courchevel, FRA - NBCSN-TV*
Sunday, Dec. 23
2:30 p.m. - Women’s slalom and giant slalom, Courchevel, FRA - NBC**