Mikaela Shiffrin clinched the World Cup overall title for the third straight year in “strange” circumstances after snowstorms prevented the women’s super-G race in Sochi from going ahead on Saturday.
The 23-year-old American skier — who had opted not to race this weekend and is training in Italy — has a 719-point lead over second-placed Petra Vlhova with a maximum of 700 points now remaining this season.
“It’s quite strange because I am sitting here right now on my bed,” Shiffrin said in a video posted to Twitter. “I could go jump around and do a little happy dance and that. I feel like nobody really needs to see that. It’s just, it’s pretty crazy.”
Shiffrin has dominated the season with a career-high 14 wins from the 29 races this World Cup season, branching out from her usual technical specialty to take three World Cup wins in the super-G. On top of that, Shiffrin added world championship gold medals in the slalom and super-G last month to emphasize a bright future for the U.S. in women’s skiing despite the retirement of Lindsey Vonn.
“This year it’s even something more special because a fair portion of my wins have come in super-G,” Shiffrin said. “I always felt like I wanted to be able to earn it in all events. I’m working on getting to the point where I can earn it in slalom, (giant slalom), super-G and downhill, but I felt like this season was a really big step.”
Shiffrin was already assured of winning the title in Sochi since neither she nor technical race specialist Vlhova, who was Shiffrin’s only remaining title rival, are competing here.
Shiffrin has suggested the high travel costs for Sochi discouraged her. Instead, she’s training in Italy ahead of next week’s races at the Czech resort of Spindleruv Mlyn.
Snowstorms and strong winds have played havoc with the first World Cup events in Sochi since the 2014 Winter Olympics, and the super-G could still be at risk in its Sunday slot. Heavy snowfall continued Saturday afternoon.
Saturday was originally meant for a downhill race, but that was canceled after it proved impossible to hold any of the three planned training sessions. When that opened up a slot in the calendar, organizers tried to add a second super-G rescheduled from St. Anton in January, but the weather made that impossible.
Governing body FIS has said the downhill and extra super-G “will definitely not be rescheduled.”
Organizers now face a rush to prepare a course for Sunday at the Rosa Khutor resort.
“Since the early morning hundreds of specialists and their equipment have been working on the course to ready it for tomorrow’s race,” the Russian Alpine Ski Federation, which organizes the event, said in a statement. “Weather at the resort is gradually improving and the forecast for Sunday means we’re optimistic about the chances of holding a race.”
Having too much snow, rather than not enough, is a novel problem for elite-level racing in Sochi. Ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, organizers feared warm temperatures so stockpiled the previous year’s snow under blankets and brought in equipment from around the world to make artificial snow.