Mikaela Shiffrin says that her biggest fan has been on her mind for every one of her ski races. When Shiffrin would get nervous, she would think of her grandmother, Pauline Condron, and remember how excited Nana was just to watch the show.
Sunday’s slalom in Killington, Vt., was no different.
Shiffrin won on American soil for the first time since Nana passed away on Oct. 22 at age 98. It came at the same venue where Nana watched Shiffrin race a World Cup in person for the first time three years ago (also a win).
“I normally am pretty good at compartmentalizing feelings and emotions,” Shiffrin said after winning the Killington slalom for the fourth straight year since it was added to the World Cup. “I didn’t want to feel like I was racing for her, but in a way I’m always racing for her because she was such a big supporter … and my biggest inspiration.”
Shiffrin’s voice cracked with emotion.
“There’s some feelings there that I’ve kind of put in a box, away, so I can focus on the racing,” she said. “At some point, I’m probably going to have to face that.”
Shiffrin raced like only she can — prevailing by 2.29 seconds over Slovakian Petra Vlhova. Swede Anna Swenn Larsson was third. Full results are here.
Shiffrin won by the largest margin for a women’s slalom in more than three years. She holds the record margin of 3.07 seconds from 2015.
With every Shiffrin victory comes more career milestones, even though she’s still just 24 years old.
On Sunday, she tied Austrian Austrian legend Annemarie Moser-Pröll for fourth on the career World Cup wins list, and second among women. Only Marcel Hirscher (67), Lindsey Vonn (82) and Ingemar Stenmark (86) are ahead of her.
“The records keep going, don’t they?” Shiffrin said, laughing, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “It’s different from what Ingemar was able to do, or what Annemarie was able to do — to me, with these amazing racers, their records will last forever. It’s a different generation, with different events. But the records are also a symbol of the work that I do and the work that my team does.”
That team shifted this season.
Shiffrin’s mom and longtime primary coach, Eileen, stepped back from the latter role, in part to care for Nana. Shiffrin raced and won for the first time without her mom on site at a slalom in Levi, Finland, last week, according to The New York Times.
“She’s still playing the role of coach, she’s just doing it a little bit more from afar now,” Shiffrin, whose mom watched from the finish area in Killington on Sunday, said on NBC. “Like, we’ve been texting every single race. She’s watching and giving me pointers and little things, so we still discuss it a lot, which I love, because she’s like sort of my most trusted adviser for the longest time but she’s also been my best friend, so having her not be traveling as much this year is a little bit like splitting my heart in half.”
Shiffrin has been first or second in 21 of the last 22 World Cup slaloms, including each of the last 13 since the PyeongChang Olympics.
This season, she made the podiums of the first four races, building off her greatest campaign ever in 2018-19, when she won a record 17 World Cup races.
The World Cup continues next weekend with Shiffrin headlining the first downhills and super-G of the season in Lake Louise, Alberta. The men head to the lone U.S. stop on their tour in Beaver Creek, Colo., featuring two-time Olympic champion Ted Ligety.
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