Mikaela Shiffrin comes back for 49th World Cup win

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Make it 49 World Cup wins for Mikaela Shiffrin, not that she’s keeping track. She goes for No. 50 on Saturday.

The 23-year-old won her fourth straight World Cup start, capturing a giant slalom in snowy Courchevel, France, on Friday.

Shiffrin made up a .08 deficit from the first run to prevail by .14 over 2010 Olympic GS champion Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany. The second-run start was moved down due to the weather. Full results are here.

“Normally, I’m having trouble with this kind of conditions when it’s inconsistent or a little bit soft snow, and definitely I have trouble when it’s bad visibility,” said the normally reserved Coloradoan, who screamed a “Yes!” and “Woo!” when she skied into the lead by .33 with two skiers still to go, including first-run leader Rebensburg. “It’s really exciting today because those were the two things we were all battling in the second run. My skis felt just perfect.”

Shiffrin is the youngest skier to reach 49 World Cup wins and will be the youngest to 50 by winning any of the upcoming technical races ahead of the world championships in February.

“We were talking last night. I didn’t know how many wins I had,” said Shiffrin, whose first came Dec. 20, 2012 at age 17. “I mean, yeah, I know, but I’m trying to kind of ignore it. … It’s just a number.

“If you asked me five years ago, I would never think that I could be in this position.”

She has won six of her 10 starts this season and in every discipline save downhill and super combined (the latter, thought to be fazing out of the Alpine program, will only be contested once this season on Feb. 24).

Shiffrin skipped a downhill and super-G on Tuesday and Wednesday, a decision made before she felt back soreness after winning her last event, a parallel slalom, on Dec. 9.

One of Shiffrin’s goals is to become the fourth woman to win a race in every discipline in one season, joining Petra KronbergerJanica Kostelic and Tina Maze.

The next priority is Saturday’s slalom in Courchevel. Shiffrin is undefeated in her trademark event since finishing a shocking fourth at the PyeongChang Olympics, where she did win the GS. The event streams live on NBC Sports Gold and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA (broadcast info here).

Shiffrin is one shy of Austrian Marlies Schild‘s record 35 World Cup slalom victories.

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VIDEO: Swiss Olympian flown to hospital after World Cup downhill crash

In a tie, Wendy Holdener puts to rest a remarkable stat in Alpine skiing

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Swiss Wendy Holdener ended one of the most remarkable victory droughts in sports by tying for the win with Swede Anna Swenn Larsson in a World Cup slalom in Killington, Vermont, on Sunday.

Holdener, after 15 second-place finishes and 15 third-place finishes in her career, stood on the top step of a World Cup slalom podium for the first time. She shared it with Swenn Larsson, who had six World Cup slalom podiums before Sunday and also earned her first win.

They beat Austrian Katharina Truppe by .22 of a second combining times from two runs.

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Holdener, 29, previously won three World Cups in other disciplines, plus two world championships in the combined and Olympic and world titles in the team event.

“To be tied first when I came into the finish was such a relief,” Holdener said while shoulder to shoulder with Swenn Larsson. “On the end, it’s perfect, because now we can share our first win together.”

Mikaela Shiffrin had the best first-run time but lost her lead midway through the second run and finished fifth. Shiffrin, who won the first two slaloms this season last weekend, was bidding for a 50th World Cup slalom victory and a sixth win in six slaloms in Killington.

“I fought. I think some spots I got a little bit off my timing, but I was pushing, and that’s slalom,” she said before turning her attention to Holdener and Swenn Larsson. “It’s a pretty special day, actually.”

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves next weekend to Lake Louise, Alberta, with two downhills and a super-G.

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Injured Ilia Malinin wins Grand Prix Finland, qualifies for Grand Prix Final

Ilia Malinin
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Ilia Malinin, competing “a little bit injured” this week, still won Grand Prix Finland and goes into the Grand Prix Final in two weeks as the world’s top-ranked male singles skater.

Malinin, who was second after Friday’s short program, landed four clean quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate to overtake Frenchman Kevin Aymoz.

Malinin, who landed a quad flip in competition for the first time, according to SkatingScores.com, also attempted a quad Axel to open his program, but spun out of the landing and put his hand down on the ice.

Malinin also won his previous two starts this season in come-from-behind fashion. The 17-year-old world junior champion became the first skater to land a clean, fully rotated quad Axel in September, then did it again in October at Skate America, where he posted the world’s top overall score this season.

Next, Malinin can become the second-youngest man to win the Grand Prix Final after Russian Yevgeny Plushenko. His biggest competition is likely to be world champion Shoma Uno of Japan, who like Malinin won both of his Grand Prix starts this fall. Malinin and Uno have not gone head-to-head this season.

Grand Prix Finland highlights air on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

FIGURE SKATING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier, Japan’s Mai Mihara overtook world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium to become the only woman to win both of her Grand Prix starts this season. Mihara prevailed by .23 of a point. The top three women this season by best total score are Japanese, led by a junior skater, 14-year-old Mao Shimada, who isn’t Olympic age-eligible until 2030.

Mihara and Hendrickx qualified for the Grand Prix Final, joining world champion Kaori Sakamoto and Rinka Watanabe, both of Japan, South Korean Yelim Kim and American Isabeau Levito, the world junior champion.

Italians Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini won both pairs’ programs and qualified for their first Grand Prix Final.

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara and Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier headline the Final. Both pairs won each of their Grand Prix starts earlier this fall. The Japanese have the world’s two best scores this season. The Americans are reigning world champions.

At least one Russian or Chinese pair made every Grand Prix Final podium — usually pairs from both countries — but neither nation competed in pairs this Grand Prix season. All Russian skaters are banned due to the war in Ukraine. China’s lone entry on the Grand Prix across all disciplines was an ice dance couple.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier improved on their world-leading score for this season in winning the ice dance by 17.03 points over Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. Both couples qualified for the Grand Prix Final in the absence of all three Olympic medalists this fall.

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