If momentum means anything in sports, Mikaela Shiffrin is riding a tsunami.
As the Alpine world turns its attention to the World Alpine Championships next week, Shiffrin destroyed the field on the first run and only had to cruise in to win her 13th World Cup race of the season in Maribor (SLO).
Shiffrin ripped down the mountain with a 50.05 clocking in the first run, an amazing one-second ahead of her perennial challenger, Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova. She was only 18th on the second run, but thanks to soft snow for the second run, that was more than enough to secure her 56th career World Cup win … at age 23.
“The first run was a pretty big fight for a lot of reasons,” said Shiffrin. “There’s just so many things that were happening after yesterday [a tie with Vlhova], and today so it was a bit more difficult to be focused. I was feeling quite uncertain if I could ski fast enough.
“(Saturday’s win) is good for the confidence, but I also have to be careful not to take that for granted because every race is a fight and every victory is a fight. I have big goals for World Championship, but nothing is guaranteed so just try to do my best to skiing and see what happens.”
Second to Shiffrin was a surprise: Sweden’s Anna Swenn Larsson, third on the first run and 11th on the second. She earned her second career World Cup medal and first since 2014; her only prior medal was a Slalom bronze back in 2014. Swiss Wendy Holdener won her fifth bronze medal of the season.
But Shiffrin is now on the verge of history: the most victories in a single World Cup season. With 13 after Maribor, he’s just one short of Vreni Schneider’s record of 14 from 1989. With five more Giant Slaloms and Slaloms remaining on the schedule, the only real question is how high she will set the record. Summaries:
FIS Alpine World Cup
Maribor (SLO) ~ 1-2 January 2019
(Full results here)
Women’s Giant Slalom: 1. tie, Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) & Petra Vlhova (SVK), 2:31.31; 3. Rahnhild Mowinckel (NOR), 2:32.24; 4. Wendy Holdener (SUI), 2:32.60; 5. Sara Hector (SWE), 2:32.81.
Women’s Slalom: 1. Shiffrin (USA), 1:42.60; 2. Anna Swenn Larsson (SWE), 1:43.37; 3. Wendy Holdener (SUI), 1:43.75; 4. Frida Hansdotter (SWE), 1:43.94; 5. Vlhova (SVK), 1:44.30. Also in the top 25: 16. Paula Moltzan (USA), 1:45.89.