Mikaela Shiffrin is off to the hottest start to a calendar year of any female skier in 29 years, despite a nasty illness.
The youngest Olympic slalom champion won her third straight race to start 2019 — and sixth in her last seven World Cups — taking a giant slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, on Saturday.
Shiffrin vomited several times leading into the race, NBC Sports’ Steve Porino said.
“It’s not very pleasant to talk about,” she said. “I was a little bit sick the last couple of days, but a lot of the girls have been sick. I didn’t think it was an excuse for today.”
The last woman to win the first three races of a calendar year was Swiss Vreni Schneider in 1989.
Shiffrin and Schneider benefited from all of those races being technical events of slalom and giant slalom (in Shiffrin’s case, she has made the podium in seven straight races, all tech events.)
Shiffrin prevailed Saturday by .31 of a second over world champion Tessa Worley combining times from two runs. Shiffrin had the fastest opening run by .86 and held on despite the 21st-fastest second run.
“[Giant slalom] has been the hardest event to get my confidence and to get consistent with,” said Shiffrin, who owns six World Cup GS wins versus 31 in slalom. “I don’t necessarily feel like I’m the best GS skier right now.”
Shiffrin now leads this season’s World Cup standings in the overall, downhill, giant slalom and slalom. The only discipline she does not lead is super-G through 17 of a scheduled 38 races.
She could break Slovenian Tina Maze‘s record for most World Cup points scored in one season — 2,414.
But the Olympics come first, and Shiffrin is looking like a favorite for three gold medals.
Shiffrin, 22, also moved halfway to Lindsey Vonn‘s female record of 78 World Cup wins. Vonn had seven World Cup wins at age 22.
Also Saturday, Megan McJames became the second U.S. Alpine skier to qualify for the Olympics after Shiffrin. It’s McJames’ third Olympic team.
The women’s Alpine World Cup continues with a slalom in Kranjska Gora on Sunday with coverage on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app. The event was moved from Maribor.
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