Mikaela Shiffrin tied the record for World Cup wins in a single discipline with her 46th slalom victory, prevailing at the circuit’s lone stop in the U.S. in Killington, Vermont, for a fifth straight time.
Shiffrin, with the fastest second run, prevailed by .75 of a second over Slovakian rival Petra Vlhova. She was in tears in the winner’s chair.
“Over the years I’ve had some really special moments here with family,” Shiffrin, who endured a difficult two years with the loss of her maternal grandmother just before the last Killington race in 2019 and her father in February 2020, said on ORF. “Two of them are not here anymore. So it’s emotional.”
Vlhova, who led Shiffrin by two tenths after the first run, got wrong-footed early in her second run. Swiss Wendy Holdener was third, her 28th World Cup slalom podium without a win.
Shiffrin, who has won all five Killington World Cup slaloms, tied Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record for career World Cup wins in a single discipline.
Stenmark won 46 giant slaloms in the 1970s and ’80s. Stenmark has the most total World Cup wins — 86. Shiffrin, 26 years old, is third on that list with 71.
“I actually didn’t know the [46 wins] record,” said Shiffrin, who posted her largest slalom margin of victory since the last Killington stop in 2019. “I won’t say it’s not meaningful. It certainly is, but I’m trying not to focus on those numbers. The closer I get to these marks, it’s hard not to think about it and want that.”
Vlhova, who beat Shiffrin in the season’s first two slaloms, led Shiffrin by .24 of a second at the first split in the second run before her mistake.
“I am happy because it could be much worse,” Vlhova said.
Shiffrin or Vlhova won 35 of the last 38 World Cup slaloms dating to 2017. Since the start of 2020, Vlhova won nine. Shiffrin has now won three, missing one slalom in February 2020 while going 300 days between races following her father’s death.
Vlhova developed into a bona fide rival leading up to the PyeongChang Olympics, where both missed the medals in the event.
After Shiffrin dominated the 2018-19 season with 17 total World Cup wins, Vlhova stepped it up. The Slovakian, whom Shiffrin’s mom once reportedly said, “skis like Mikaela more than Mikaela skis like Mikaela,” defeated Shiffrin in consecutive slaloms in January 2020, in November 2020 and again earlier this month.
Shiffrin’s training was curtailed by a recurring back injury in early November, right before Vlhova won back-to-back slaloms in Levi, Finland.
There are four more World Cup slaloms between now and the Olympics, all in a two-week span in late December and early January. Those will determine who goes into the Olympics as the favorite.
“Every single race is an enormous test, and it’s very nerve-racking as well,” Shiffrin said of competing against Vlhova. “When we go to the start of the next slalom race, it’s going to feel like the start of a new season.”
The World Cup moves next weekend to Lake Louise, Canada, for the season’s first speed races.
Shiffrin is expected to compete there as she sizes up for a potential Olympic schedule of racing all five individual events.
The men’s World Cup has speed races in Beaver Creek, Colorado, starting Thursday.
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