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Marcel Hirscher is fourth male Alpine skier to win 50 World Cups

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Austrian ski superstar Marcel Hirscher became the fourth man to reach 50 career World Cup wins, taking a slalom in Zagreb, Croatia, on Thursday.

The 28-year-old Hirscher won his fifth race of the season, a strong recovery from breaking his left ankle in August slalom training.

He edged countryman Michael Matt by .05 combining times from two runs. Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen was third. The top American was Mark Engel in 24th.

The World Cup men’s career wins list:

Ingemark Stenmark (SWE) — 86
Hermann Maier (AUT) — 54
Alberto Tomba (ITA) — 50
Marcel Hirscher (AUT) — 50

“Alberto Tomba is a name where you think, oh my God, he is a real living ski legend,” Hirscher said.

Hirscher has now won at least five races in seven straight seasons. He already holds the record of six straight World Cup overall titles.

He leads this season’s standings, eyeing a seventh straight, through 17 of 37 races.

If Hirscher stays on his recent pace, he would pass Stenmark’s 86 wins in 2022 or 2023.

But Hirscher has always cautioned that he could retire after any season, even without an Olympic gold medal.

Hirscher was fourth and fifth in two races at Vancouver 2010 and was upset for slalom gold in Sochi by countryman Mario Matt, the older brother of Michael.

Hirscher grabbed two golds and one silver at each of the last three world championships.

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Mikaela Shiffrin wins again as history, records come into view (video)

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Mikaela Shiffrin won her seventh race in 14 starts this season on Wednesday. She will chase history at the PyeongChang Olympics, but single-season records are already coming into view on the World Cup.

Shiffrin captured the Snow Queen crown (which she broke, again) in Zagreb by a huge margin — 1.59 seconds — combining times from two runs.

Swiss Wendy Holdener was second, followed by Swede Frida Hansdotter.

Full results are here.

In her last 27 World Cup slaloms, Shiffrin owns 22 wins, two runners-up, a pair of third-place finishes and one DNF. The DNF came in Zagreb last year.

She made the podium in the last six World Cup races overall. The last woman to do that was Tina Maze in 2012-13, arguably the greatest season in Alpine history.

Which leads one to look ahead for Shiffrin.

If the Coloradoan stays on this pace in her best events of giant slalom and slalom, she will become the third skier to reach 2,000 World Cup points in a single season come the World Cup Finals in March.

Hermann Maier scored 2,000 in 40 races in 1999-2000. Tina Maze crushed that record with 2,414 in 35 races in the 2012-13 season. There are 38 scheduled women’s races this season.

Skiers receive 100 points for a win, 80 points for second place and 60 points for third place in a descending scale down to one point for 30th place.

This system was implemented for the 1991-92 season. Frenchman Jean-Claude Killy‘s historic 1966-67 season (won 12 of the 17 races) is out of the record picture because of the points table change and a busier race schedule.

Shiffrin will break Maze’s record if she stays on her current pace in slalom and giant slalom and adds another 398 points from the 11 remaining races in downhill, super-G and super combined.

“I don’t know if I will ever be able to do that. It’s not really one of my goals,” Shiffrin said, according to The Associated Press. “I also have so much respect for the season that Tina Maze had with so many points, it was incredible. There is a part of me that hopes that nobody ever beats that because she should really be remembered as one of the best ski racers of all time.”

Shiffrin is expected to skip several of the remaining speed races. She picks and chooses downhills and super-Gs at places where she feels comfortable with the speed and risk. She may pass on the Olympic downhill.

The focus is on the Winter Games, where Shiffrin is expected to become the first repeat Olympic slalom champion. She’s also a medal favorite in giant slalom and super combined.

Shiffrin, 22, is now at 38 career World Cup wins. Lindsey Vonn, the record-holder with 78 victories, had seven wins at the same age.

Shiffrin passed childhood idol Marlies Schild of Austria for solo sixth place on the women’s all-time list Wednesday.

The women’s Alpine World Cup continues with a giant slalom and slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, on Saturday and Sunday with coverage on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app. The events were moved from Maribor.

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Mikaela Shiffrin’s streak ends with first DNF in 4 years

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ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Mikaela Shiffrin‘s seven-race winning streak in women’s World Cup slaloms came to end Tuesday, leaving the American one short of the record for most consecutive victories in the discipline.

But the Olympic champion was quick to consider the positives.

“I was never thinking about the streak in the beginning until people started talking about it,” Shiffrin said shortly after straddling a gate about 25 seconds into her first run. “To be honest it is a bit of a relief because nobody is going to talk about it anymore.”

It was the first time in more than four years that Shiffrin failed to finish a slalom race. Her previous DNF came in Semmering, Austria, in December 2012, one week after she had earned her first of 26 career victories.

With a win Tuesday, Shiffrin would have matched the best mark set by Swiss great Vreni Schneider in 1988-89 and Croatian skier Janica Kostelic in 2000-01.

In total, Shiffrin had won the previous 12 slaloms she competed in, but missed five races because of a knee injury last season.

Slovakian Veronika Velez Zuzolova won by .24 over two runs over countrywoman Petra Vlhova. Czech Sarka Strachova was third. Velez Zuzulova, 32, became the second-oldest woman to win a World Cup slalom after the great Marlies Schild.

Two-time U.S. Olympian Resi Stiegler was seventh, her second-best World Cup result since 2007. Full results are here.

“It is what it is. Sometimes you don’t ski exactly the way you want to,” Shiffrin said. “I was trying to go forward but I got a little bit tentative in some sections and straddled.”

Never showing much interest in chasing records, Shiffrin still felt sorry about her early exit — though not for herself.

“It’s huge for U.S. ski racing to have somebody who has something like a big streak going on. People start to gain interest,” Shiffrin said. “But for me, I am not doing this for those records. I am doing this for myself. I try to find peace in my own heart. I am on my way there.”

Many of the top slalom skiers struggled on the Sljeme hill. Four out of the first eight starters failed to complete their runs as Swiss duo Wendy Holdener and Michelle Gisin also skied out, as did Nina Loeseth of Norway.

Shiffrin was 0.07 seconds off Velez Zuzulova’s leading time when the mishap occurred.

“Straddling is always your own mistake,” the American said. “Maybe something about the surface, a little bump here and there caught your edge. But in general, I feel like if I am skiing well, there is absolutely no reason I would have straddled. I only have myself to blame. Even with bumpy snow or a little bit of weird sunlight, it is my fault.”

The result won’t affect Shiffrin’s lead in the overall World Cup standings because her closest competitor, defending champion Lara Gut, usually sits out slaloms. Shiffrin leads the Swiss skier by 215 points.

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