An almost-perfect weekend of skiing for Mikaela Shiffrin saw her just about close the books on her goals for the 2018-19 Alpine World Cup season.
In the Giant Slalom held on Friday in Splinderluv Myln (CZE), Shiffrin ended up third behind Petra Vlhova (SVK) and Viktoria Rebensburg (GER), but increased her lead in the Giant Slalom standings to 515-418 over Vlhova with one race remaining. With 100 points to the winner and a 97-point lead, Shiffrin only has to score four points to win her first Giant Slalom seasonal title.
Not in the bag, but almost.
On Saturday, she flew down the Slalom course and forged a big 0.37-second lead over Swiss Wendy Holdener and then confirmed her victory with the second-fastest time on the second run, finishing 0.85 seconds ahead of Holdener for a record 15th win on the World Cup tour this season.
“That was a really cool day,” said Shiffrin. “I felt no pressure with globes, standings, or that kind of thing … just that I really wanted to ski two really aggressive runs and I knew it was going to be bumpy in the second run. It was really important for me to be tough enough – in my mind – ‘I could still go really hard in the second run and be athletic and handle the bumps, and do my very best. I was thinking that if I take this risk maybe I will not be able to finish, but I want to try that – because I have nothing to lose. I was able to get to the finish, and it was a super cool day.”
Shiffrin had been tied with Swiss Vreni Schneider, who had 14 wins in the 1988-89 season, but now owns the record alone. The Slalom has been the key to her success, as she has won nine of the 11 Slalom races held this season.
“If you told me eight years ago at this race – my first race in World Cup – that I would be in this position right now, I wouldn’t believe it.” Shiffrin added. “It’s really, really special. My whole team – we’re celebrating it a lot – because it’s been an amazing year, it’s been an amazing career so far. But, at the same time, records are meant to be broken, and maybe me achieving this one will inspire a little girl who could beat my record someday. That’s what’s really important to me.”
Heading into the World Cup Final in Andorra next week, Shiffrin has clinched the overall title, the Slalom title, has the Giant Slalom title in her grasp and leads in the Super-G race with 300 points to 268 for Tina Wierather (LIE), so she still has work to go on that one.
Those Crystal Globes are pretty big; she’s going to start a museum. Summaries:
FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup
Spindleruv Mlyn (CZE) ~ 8-9 March 2019
(Full results here)
Women’s Giant Slalom: 1. Petra Vlhova (SVK), 2:24.69; 2. Viktlria Rebensburg (GER), 2:24.80; 3. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA), 2:25.29; 4. Federica Brignone (ITA), 2:26.18; 5. Meta Hrovat (SLO), 2:26.52.
Women’s Slalom: 1. Shiffrin, 1:38.98; 2. Wendy Holdener (SUI), 1:39.83; 3. Vlhova (SVK), 1:41.01; 4. Katharina Truppe (AUT), 1:41.61; 5. Kristin Lysdahl (SWE), 1:41.71.