For Mikaela Shiffrin it was another overpowering victory on the World Cup, and once again it carried historic implications.
On Saturday the EagleVail racer posted her 39th career World Cup victory, giving her exactly half of Lindsey Vonn’s total (78) which is the most in history for a woman — and Shiffrin is 11 years younger than Vonn. Then on Sunday, Shiffrin claimed a slalom at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, for win No. 40, tying her for 11th place on the all-time wins list with Pirmin Zurbriggen of Switzerland.
Even more intriguing, she tied Ingemar Stenmark for second on the list of most wins at age 22. Only Annemarie Moser-Proell of Austria had more wins (41) before turning 23, and Shiffrin can equal that in a slalom Tuesday night at Flachau, Austria. It would be hard to bet against that, as Shiffrin has won six of this season’s seven slaloms and has been prevailing by ridiculous margins.
“She’s skiing super fast,” runner-up Frida Hansdotter of Sweden said Sunday in the post-race news conference. “The rest of us girls, we want to ski as fast or even faster than her, but she’s on another level right now. For sure we can ski faster, but we just need to work harder and ski faster.
Shiffrin led after Sunday’s first run by 1.47 seconds, a huge margin in slalom, and that is becoming her tactical approach: Ski as aggressively as possible on the first run on a relatively clean course to build the biggest lead possible, then be judicious about where to push and where to be careful on the second run when the course is bound to be chewed up for the first-run leaders because they are the last to race in the second run.
“I felt so clean and aggressive on the first run,” Shiffrin said. “I don’t know if a perfect run is even possible, but it was very close.”
Shiffrin was third-fastest in the second run and won the race by 1.64 seconds.
“Normally I try to forget about the first run and think like it would be a new race,” Shiffrin said. “I want to ski as aggressive as I can in the second run but always know I also want to be a little bit smart. I don’t want to throw (the big lead) away.”
Clearly she has set herself apart in the technical events, and she’s so far ahead of her competitors she can focus on herself. She has won eight of her past nine races.
“I’m not competing, I’m just trying to enjoy every turn that I make and to make every turn aggressive,” Shiffrin said. “For sure I want to win, but everybody wants to win. Right now I’m just enjoying that so much. The skiing is even more important than the winning.”
At age 22, with the likelihood of another decade ahead of her in ski racing, Mikaela Shiffrin already stands tied for 11th on the all-time World Cup wins list. Nine of the racers ahead of her have retired. Here is the current list:
86 — Ingemar Stenmark, Sweden, 1973-89
78 — Lindsey Vonn, Vail, 2001-present
62 — Annemarie Moser-Proell, Austria, 1969-80
55 — Vreni Schneider, Switzerland, 1984-95
54 — Hermann Maier, Austria, 1996-2009
50 — Alberto Tomba, Italy, 1986-98
48 — Marcel Hirscher, Austria, 2008-present
46 — Renate Goetschl, Austria, 1993-2009
46 — Marc Girardelli, Luxembourg, 1980-96
42 — Anja Paerson, Sweden, 1998-2012
40 — Pirmin Zurbriggen, Switzerland, 1981-90
40– Mikaela Shiffrin, EagleVail, 2012-present