Mikaela Shiffrin is all set to become the World Cup overall champion.
The 22-year-old American will bag the biggest annual prize in ski racing after Slovenian Ilka Stuhec, the only other skier mathematically in the running, reportedly said she will not enter Saturday’s slalom at the World Cup Finals in Aspen, Colo., (broadcast schedule here). It will become official when the start list is out later Friday.
Stuhec had a miniscule chance of overtaking Shiffrin, needing to win both Saturday’s slalom and Sunday’s giant slalom and for Shiffrin to finish outside the top 15 in both races. Stuhec does not typically race slaloms.
Shiffrin became the fifth American to take the overall title, awarded since 1967 to the male and female skiers who accumulate the most points across all races in the World Cup season.
She joins Phil Mahre (1981-83), Tamara McKinney (1983), Bode Miller (2005, 2008) and Lindsey Vonn (2008-10, 2012) in bringing the crystal globe back to the U.S.
Shiffrin is also the youngest male or female overall champion since Croatian Janica Kostelic in 2003.
She clinched with two races left in a 37-race season, but it was wrapped up for all intents and purposes on Feb. 10. On that day, Swiss Lara Gut, the defending World Cup overall champion, tore an ACL in a warm-up at the world championships.
Gut was 180 points behind Shiffrin at the time, significant, but the remaining World Cup schedule favored Gut’s speed events to Shiffrin’s technical events.
With Gut out, Shiffrin cruised to the title by winning three of her next four World Cup races. She’s now at 11 wins this season, most by any man or woman, and could finish with 13 if she bags Saturday’s slalom and Sunday’s giant slalom in Aspen.
Thirteen victories would tie Shiffrin for second all-time in one season by a man or woman. It would also give her 33 career World Cup wins, matching Bode Miller for second all-time among Americans behind Vonn, who has 77.
It has been quite the rise for Shiffrin since she captured gold in Sochi. She became more dominant in slalom, began winning in giant slalom and super combined and is now a podium threat in the scattered super-Gs that she starts.
It all sets up for Shiffrin to go into the Olympic season with the chance to become the first U.S. woman to win three gold medals at a single Winter Olympics.
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