News flash: 17-year-old American skier Mikaela Shiffrin is freaking good.
Having won two of the last three World Cup slalom races ahead of Tuesday’s event in Flachau, Austria, Shiffrin made it three for four with another victory – by almost a full second.
German Maria Hoefl-Riesch was in first place after the first run, just over a half second faster than Shiffrin. But in her second trip down the hill, Shiffrin blazed down the course in 56.19 seconds to take the lead. Hoefl-Riesch then missed a gate near the bottom of the course and recorded a DNF, handing the victory to the speedy teenager.
Shiffrin now leads the World Cup slalom standings by more than 80 points over Slovenian Tina Maze.
Shiffrin was compared to Austrian Alpine legend Annemarie Moser-Proell on Tuesday because her slalom win occurred when she was 17 years, 308 days old – the same exact age as Moser-Proell was when she won her third event, a record. Moser-Proell won three Olympic medals (one gold, two silver) and four world championship titles during her career, which ended in 1980.
“She is way ahead of her age,” Austria’s technical head coach Guenter Obkircher told the Associated Press. “She races fast and has a very solid technique. And she has this youthful carefreeness.”
Shiffrin’s U.S. teammate Ted Ligety has also noticed her talent.
“She is a solid skier for sure,” Ligety said. “She has been so good the last few races and last year, too. She doesn’t seem like a 17-year-old when she’s on the hill.”
Shiffrin already had become the first American to win two World Cup races before turning 18. Now she’s the first American to win three races. And she recently picked up some famous Twitter followers. Not bad for a World Cup rookie.