SR Staff Report
KRONPLATZ,ITALY,24.JAN.23. Mikaela Shiffrin. Photo: GEPA pictures
SAN VIGILIO DI MAREBBE, Italy — Today, we witnessed an incredible event in ski racing history – Mikaela Shiffrin earned her 83rd World Cup victory.
Shiffrin accomplished this feat on one of the sport’s most demanding giant slalom tests. She has become the winningest woman in the history of the Alpine World Cup. She left nothing to chance and charged with determination and skill; she was fastest on both runs and won the race.
Shiffrin’s giant slalom victory means she surpasses retired American teammate Lindsey Vonn. Vonn retired four years ago when injuries cut her career short.
Shiffrin is only 27. Vonn was 33 when she won her last World Cup event (82 victories) and Stenmark was 32 (86 victories).
Even under all the pressure of being the best after the first run, she could ski the fastest again in the second run to set the new record. Four different women have won World Cup GS races this year; it is not easy; however, Shiffrin has now won four herself.
It is hard to find words for her accomplishment, even Shiffrin didn’t have any.
“It might take me a little bit to figure out what to say,” Shiffrin said. “I don’t know what to say right now.”
The only thing the champion wanted to say after her race was a thank you for the efforts of the race crew and for supplying such a fantastic race surface.
Later on she did have slightly more to say in some interviews.
“I’m happy. I’m proud. I’m thankful for the team and all the work we all do. And I mean, these things I’ve said so many times now, it’s all still true today as it was the first race I ever did and the first win I ever had,” said Shiffrin.
Sharing this extremely special podium with Shiffrin are Lara Gut-Behrami in second place and Frederica Brignone in third. Both women skied with the intent to claim wins for themselves and prevent another Shiffrin victory. They know better than anyone what kind of accomplishment it was for Shiffrin to win today.
“It’s unbelievable what she’s doing, she’s an amazing athlete,” Gut-Behrami said.
Brignone told Shiffrin, “Congrats,” and Shiffrin responded, “Oh my god.”
The race became incredibly engaging when Petra Vlhova skied on the second run. The champion skied the course set by her coach with power and precision that only comes from determination. Sixth after the first run, Vlhova crossed into first.
From the leader’s chair, Vlhova watched as American Paula Moltzan pushed hard, but eventually beyond her limit and fell. Then Canada’s Valerie Grenier went beyond her ability, made a mistake, and crossed into sixth, ending the day in ninth.
Finally, the fastest Italian from the first run Federica Brignone was able to finish in front of Vlhova. However, her run was not without time-robbing mistakes. Brignone ended the day (+1.43) in third. Following Brignone, Gut-Behrami produced an inspired run to take a significant lead and then she watched the brilliance that is Shiffrin.
“I saw her (Gut-Behrami) from the start and then I was thinking, ‘Why did I watch? I can’t go that fast,’” Shiffrin said. “It’s still hard for me to believe that I finally have the mental focus again to be strong on the second run. So that’s something I don’t take for granted.”
The snow was perfect, but the ERTA slope is unforgiving. If a racer pushes past their limits, significant time loss or worse is likely. Today, many racers who were frustrated with their first-run performances did just that. Four racers did not finish Moltzan (USA), Holtmann (NOR), Brunner (AUT), and Ljutic (CRO).
Marta Bassino was certainly not pleased with her first run. She has five GS podiums this season and didn’t enjoy being 10th on the first run. She pushed hard and had a significant lead with one split remaining. However, the home country favorite got twisted and lost time, crossing into third and ending the day 10th. This result means that Shiffrin now leads the season’s GS standings.
The first-year FIS Italian skiing for Albania, bib 51 Lara Colturi, continues her impressive season. She finished 14th and scored World Cup GS points for the third time this season. Today’s race was Colturi’s best World Cup result.
Finishing tied 29th on the first run, American Nina O’Brien was the first to ski the final run. O’Brien was clean and powerful, arcing the ski beautifully. The course was set with wider turns than the first run, but O’Brien could see the rhythm. She used the fourth-fastest second run to move up 11 places and finish the day a season-best 15th.
The women’s GS field continues to be very diverse; 14 nations had athletes qualify for the second run.
Shiffrin can quickly add to her record total in another giant slalom at Kronplatz on Wednesday. Then she has two slaloms — her best event, having accounted for 51 of her 83 victories — in Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic, next weekend. That was where Shiffrin made her World Cup debut as a 15-year-old in March 2011.
After a short break, Shiffrin will then again be a multi-medal threat at the world championships in Meribel, France, which start on Feb. 6.
Analysis of the fastest three skiers, as well as Grenier and O’Brien and the day’s results
Results from the January 24th Kronplatz GS
The Associated Press, USST and FIS contributed to this report.
This is a developing story, stay tuned for updates.