Shiffrin Makes Statement With Skiing, Takes Home 63rd Victory
Reigning FIS Ski World Cup overall and giant slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin certainly lets her skiing speak for itself, and today she spoke loudly— winning by a massive margin of 1.36 seconds. She earned her 63rd World Cup victory, surpassing Austrian Annemarie Moser-Pröll into fourth on the all-time win list behind Marcel Hirscher (67), Lindsey Vonn (82) and Ingemar Stenmark (86).
Italy’s Marta Bassino was second, 1.36 off Mikaela’s pace, while Austrian Katharina Liensberger put on a great show for the home crowd, grabbing her first World Cup giant slalom podium in the 50th edition of the Lienz World Cup on the Hochstein track, 1.82 seconds back.
Mikaela put a challenging day in Courchevel, France in the rear-view mirror and out of her mind, showing the world that she is indeed one of the best giant slalom skiers in the world, with her 11th career giant slalom victory. Ever a practitioner of the sport, Mikaela was back on giant slalom skis the day after Courchevel. She hit the “reset” button and opted to sit out of the Val d’Isere, France downhill and alpine combined—proving to be a smart decision taking into consideration the weather—much to the chagrin of many naysayers (including media and fans). However, when Mikaela makes a decision, it’s always a calculated one, and in this case, it proved to work out in her favor.
Instead, Mikaela got a great block of tech training under her belt at our European training base in Folgaria with our partner Alpe Cimbra, Trentino. Joined by her mother Eileen and father Jeff—who came over for the holidays and plan to go to both Lienz and the upcoming slalom at Zagreb, Croatia—Mikaela enjoyed the holiday. She spent Christmas where she feels most comfortable—in gates, on the mountain. Hard work pays off. And on Saturday it paid off in the form of a massive 1.36 margin win and some beautiful, connected skiing by the quickly emerging greatest of all time. Mikaela described her time with her family over the holidays as “soul-healing.”
“The last week was actually great,” reflected Mikaela. “My mom and dad are here, and the training was amazing and I was so much more prepared for this weekend than I have been. I am really excited...really excited for today. Courchevel made me doubt a lot about what I’m able to do with my giant slalom skiing, so to be able to come back here today after a lot of training the last week and a little bit of rest too, is great. You go through these moments as an athlete where you have to look at your skiing and reflect and say ‘I’m not doing a good enough job.’”
“To me,” she continued, “that happens quite often when I’m trying to race in every event because there’s never enough time to train in every event, so then I have to take a step back. We skipped Val d’Isere because I felt like I wasn’t doing my job. It wasn’t because of the weather, we skipped it because I wasn’t skiing well and I had work to do. We did a lot of work—my team, my coaches—and that paid off in today, and that’s one really big step in the right direction.”
Coming through the finish line, Mikaela was stunned when she looked at the clock. With a look of disbelief, she crouched down similarly to the way she did in Andorra when she held her first career giant slalom globe and hung out there for a moment as she took it all in. You saw that correctly, Mikaela...1.36 seconds. She won both runs, and the second run, in particular, was something special. In the third split alone, Mikaela made up one second of time. ONE SECOND.
She expressed how hard it was to just let the Courchevel result go, and that she was heartbroken after Courchevel. “You can’t go into a race thinking you can deserve something or expect something at all, but it’s hard not to compare what’s going on this season with what went on last season,” she explained. “Everyone is thinking ‘what is she doing this season compared to what she did last season’ and that’s hard because I am thinking that too. I still can’t believe I won 17 races last year, and so I have to reset and think that might never happen again, and just focus on my skiing.”
Mikaela leads the overall standings by 215 points over Italy’s Federica Brignone and has moved back up in the giant slalom standings, from fourth to second, by a mere 21 points behind Federica, who has 275 points to Mikaela’s 254.
Mikaela Shiffrin has won 63 World Cup races, in outright second place on the all-time women's list. Lindsey Vonn holds the women's record of 82 race wins. On the men's side, only Ingemar Stenmark (86) and Marcel Hirscher (67) have won more World Cup races.
Mikaela has more World Cup victories in all disciplines on Austrian soil (11) than in any other country (9, United States).
Mikaela is the fifth woman to claim a record 11 World Cup wins in Austria, after Renate Götschl, Annemarie Moser-Pröll, Marlies Schild and Lindsey Vonn. On the men's side, only Ingemar Stenmark and Hermann Maier (both 15) have won more than 10 World Cup races in Austria.
Prior to Saturday's victory, Mikaela finished on the podium in giant slalom World Cup races in Lienz on two occasions: third places on December 28, 2013, and December 29, 2017.
Nina O’Brien also started for the Americans, but she did not qualify for a second run. The rest of the women’s tech team is taking some time to focus on the NorAm circuit.
Up next for the women is a slalom on Sunday—exactly eight years to the date Mikaela earned her first-career podium in 2011, where she was third and her childhood idols Marlies Schild (AUT) and Tina Maze (SLO) were first and second, respectively. Slalom specialist Paula Moltzan will return to action after a short break to focus on some nagging back pain, and Nina will start as well.
Mikaela Victory Press Conference
Women’s Giant Slalom
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HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
Sunday, Dec. 29
4:00 a.m. - Women’s slalom run 1, Leinz, Austria - NBC Sports Gold
7:00 a.m. - Women’s slalom run 2, Leinz, Austria - NBC Sports Gold
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