Mikaela Shiffrin gets 75th World Cup win, breaks Lindsey Vonn record

Mikaela Shiffrin
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Mikaela Shiffrin won the season-opening slalom for her 75th career World Cup victory and broke the female record she shared with Lindsey Vonn for the most podiums in a single discipline.

“It’s a bit hard to explain what it means because it’s a pretty big number, actually,” said Shiffrin, who is third all-time in World Cup wins behind Ingemar Stenmark (86) and Vonn (82). “So many years I’ve been racing now. Every single race that I won had some special meaning. I don’t think, as a human, I can feel that many emotions at one time. Actually, I don’t think about 75. I just think about this one.”

Shiffrin, third after the first of two runs in Levi, Finland, had the best second run to prevail by .16 of a second over Swede Anna Swenn Larsson combining times from both runs.

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The winner’s prize in Levi is a reindeer. Shiffrin “won” her fifth reindeer, though the animals stay in Europe.

German Lena Duerr, the first run leader, was last to go in the second run. She still held a lead of .38 over Shiffrin halfway through her second run, but lost nearly a second to the next split and finished in fourth place behind Olympic champion Petra Vlhova of Slovakia.

“Everybody’s like, ‘Who’s better, Petra or Mikaela?'” Shiffrin said of Vlhova, who in the last Olympic cycle overtook Shiffrin as the top-ranked slalom skier. “To be honest, I think when we both push on our very, very best skiing, you actually don’t know who’s going to win. I think that’s what makes it exciting. I would like to say I’m always going to win if I’m skiing the best, but it’s not really true. It’s just who pushes a little bit harder and who hits the timing exactly right.”

Shiffrin, who ended last season with her worst run of slalom results since she was a 17-year-old rookie (DNF at the Olympics, ninth, eighth), earned her 67th World Cup slalom podium. Vonn made 66 downhill podiums. Stenmark holds the overall record with 81 slalom podiums, plus 72 giant slalom podiums.

Shiffrin’s 48 World Cup slalom wins are most for any Alpine skier in any discipline.

She has started 100 career slaloms among the Olympics, world championships and World Cup and won 53 of them, all in her last 87 starts.

The women race another slalom in Levi on Sunday.

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Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

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She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

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