American teen Mikaela Shiffrin capped an incredible first season on the slopes with an improbable come from behind victory in Switzerland Saturday, and earned her first career World Cup Crystal Globe in the process.
Shiffrin, who turned 18 Wednesday, admitted she wasn’t really in the right frame of mind after falling 1.17-seconds behind World Cup overall champ Tina Maze of Slovenia after the first run.
“I was really overcome with emotions after the first run, being so far out,” Shiffrin told the AP after hoisting her first Crystal Globe.
“Everyone just said, ‘What are you holding back for? Go out and have some fun and try to dance with the gates and see how fast you can go.'”
Apparently it worked. Shiffrin roared back on her second run to win her fourth race of the season. She became the youngest woman to win the slalom title in 39 years, and the first American to take home the slalom Crystal Globe since Tamara McKinney in 1984.
“I didn’t know I could make up all that time in one run,” Shiffrin said after completing her comeback. “It’s amazing. I am still trying to find my best skiing but this was my best run of the season.”
Maze, who was seen crying after the race, had already earned records for the most points and most podiums in a season, but fell 33 points shy of Shriffin for the slalom title. Maze also lost the downhill crown to injured American Lindsey Vonn by a single point after Wednesday’s race was canceled due to fog.
Shiffrin and Maze will duke it out on the slopes again Sunday in the final giant slalom race of the season.
But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.
She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, is her top remaining challenger in Paris.
No. 3 Jessica Pegula, the highest-seeded American man or woman, was eliminated in the third round. No. 4 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, who has three wins over Swiatek this year, withdrew before her third-round match due to illness.
No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, is the top hope to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seleswon the 1996 Australian Open.
But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.
Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.
Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.
Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).
All of the American men lost before the fourth round. The last U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals was Andre Agassi in 2003.