KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia (AP) — Shortly after winning her 40th career World Cup race on Sunday, overall champion Mikaela Shiffrin drew praise from one of her main rivals for “taking the sport to another level.”
Beaten by 1.64 seconds in a slalom on the Podkoren course, Frida Hansdotter had mixed feelings about the American’s dominance.
“It’s frustrating, but it is also good for the sport,” said the Swede, the only skier other than Shiffrin to win the season-long World Cup slalom title in the past five years.
Shiffrin has won 20 of the last 25 slaloms she competed in, and finished on the podium in four of the other five races. Her 29 slalom wins in total leaves her six short of the record set by Austria’s Marlies Schild.
“She is super fast,” Hansdotter said. “All of us want to ski faster than her but she is on another level. We need to train harder and ski faster.”
The Olympic slalom champion certainly was fast while taking a 1.47-second lead in Sunday’s opening leg, which Shiffrin called “maybe the best run of slalom I have ever done in a race.”
It was the fourth straight slalom race where Shiffrin held a first-run lead of more than a second, a huge margin in a sport often decided by hundredths of a second.
“I let it go down the hill and I am really, really happy with my skiing that run,” said Shiffrin, who also triumphed in Saturday’s giant slalom on the same course. “I am always looking to do the skiing that I do in training. That feels really good, it’s confident, it’s flowing. The surface is incredible and froze overnight so it’s just so much fun to ski.”
Shiffrin posted the third-fastest time in the final leg and beat Hansdotter once again, while Wendy Holdener was 1.87 behind in third for the Swiss skier’s 13nd career slalom podium without winning — a World Cup record.
“Sometimes it’s frustrating but it is still a good fight,” Holdener said.
Petra Vlhova of Slovakia, the only skier to beat Shiffrin in a slalom this season, was 2.18 behind in fourth.
The result put the American level with Sweden great Ingemar Stenmark for the number of World Cup victories before turning 23.
Only Annemarie Moser-Proell won more races (41) at that age, and Shiffrin can match the Austrian great’s record at a night slalom in Flachau on Tuesday.
“I have so much fun skiing today,” said Shiffrin, who has won seven of the last eight races, including all four in 2018. “I feel so like in a good place, it doesn’t feel like I am dreaming, it doesn’t feel like it’s something crazy that’s happening. It just feels like I am skiing really well and I am starting to feel that in the races more and more.”
Her two wins this weekend easily earned Shiffrin the Golden Fox Trophy, which adds the slalom results to those of Saturday’s GS.
It was another confirmation that Shiffrin, initially excelling in slalom, has become a consistent winner in both technical disciplines.
“That’s huge, that has been one of my goals since forever,” Shiffrin said. “So it’s so cool now that I can be a contender for the win in both slalom and GS.”
Shiffrin’s triumphant run has seen her lead in the overall standings increase to 721 points over second-place Holdener, while she leads Vlhova in the slalom standings by 235 points.
Not that she will take anything for granted because, as Shiffrin said, “there are quite a few who have the ability to win. It’s still competition.”
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