Mikaela Shiffrin joked after yet another World Cup slalom win that she told Marlies Schild as recently as three years ago that the Austrian is her idol.
Shiffrin, at the age of 23, is now on the brink of matching her idol for the most career World Cup slalom victories.
Shiffrin won her 34th slalom, and her third straight in Killington, Vt., on Sunday. She is one shy of the retired Schild’s record.
Shiffrin skied through the fog to prevail by .57 of a second over Slovakian Petra Vlhova. Olympic champion Frida Hansdotter of Sweden was third. Shiffrin led by .29 after the morning run and had the field’s second-fastest afternoon run.
“Definitely a couple points on the course where I wasn’t sure I was still on the course,” said Shiffrin, whose lead shrank below three tenths midway through her second run.
Shiffrin already has the slalom wins record if you include her three parallel slalom victories, but she can tie Schild for traditional slaloms in Courchevel, France, on Dec. 22.
When Shiffrin made her first World Cup podium in Lienz, Austria, on Dec. 29, 2011, she blurted out to the winner Schild. “Oh my gosh, I’m such a big fan,” she said, according to The New York Times. “Well, I’m also on the podium with you. But I’m still a big fan.”
Shiffrin said Sunday that she still studies video of Schild, who retired in 2014.
“I don’t care if I break her record, I still feel like she’s the greatest slalom skier of this generation because she was the first,” Shiffrin said on NBC. “She was the first one to completely pioneer a new kind of style of skiing. Some of her runs, it was like she belonged with the men [Schild was actually a forerunner for a men’s World Cup slalom in January 2012]. If I break her record or not, I feel like it’s not even comparable.”
Shiffrin is also one win shy of fourth place on the women’s career list across all disciplines. She’s at 45. Only Lindsey Vonn (82), Annemarie Moser-Pröll (62), Vreni Schneider (55) and Renate Götschl (46) have more.
“I’ve always wanted to be the best skier in the world,” she said. “Slalom came sooner for me. For whatever reason it clicked earlier on.”
Vonn, who notched her 45th win at age 27, has yet to race in this her farewell season and, after a training crash Monday, will not be at next weekend’s speed races at her favorite venue of Lake Louise, Alberta.
Also Sunday, Paula Moltzan and Nina O’Brien had their best career World Cup finishes of 17th and 23, respectively. The U.S. put three women in the top 30 of a World Cup slalom for the first time since Jan. 12, 2016.
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