Mikaela Shiffrin won her 81st World Cup race, moving one shy of Lindsey Vonn‘s female record while tying the longest win streak in 25 years with what she called likely the best skiing of her career.
Shiffrin prevailed on the first of back-to-back slalom days in Zagreb, Croatia, beating Slovakian Petra Vlhova by 76 hundredths of a second combining times from two runs.
“It was two nearly perfect runs,” Shiffrin said on Austrian broadcaster ORF. “If I could go up and do it again, I couldn’t do it better.
“I could actually say that I’m skiing better than I probably ever have.”
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.@MikaelaShiffrin retakes her throne as The Snow Queen in Zagreb for the FIFTH time with this incredible 2nd run🔥#stifelusalpineteam pic.twitter.com/BtQCcpQDo8
— U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team (@usskiteam) January 4, 2023
On Thursday, Shiffrin can tie Vonn and become the first man or woman to win six consecutive World Cup races since German Katja Seizinger in November-December 1997.
Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark, a legend of the 1970s and ’80s, has the overall career record of 86 World Cup wins.
Shiffrin also won five in a row in 2018. This run is arguably more impressive given Shiffrin has done it across three different disciplines — two wins apiece in giant slalom and slalom, plus a super-G.
“I’m doing my best not to count,” she laughed. “Right now, I feel like I’m just riding a wave. I’m going to ride it until it’s over because the only thing I can really guarantee is that, at some point, it ends.”
Wednesday was among the more impressive of Shiffrin’s record 51 career World Cup slalom wins.
She became the third woman in the last six years (more than 60 races) to top the first run of a top-level slalom starting from seventh place, the worst start position given to the top flight of skiers. Shiffrin’s lead after the first run — 23 hundredths of a second — was the largest for a woman starting seventh since December 2016.
What’s more, Zagreb is not known as a course that holds up well. Shiffrin had to ski after the world’s other top six women carved it up in the first run, then went last of 30 skiers in the second run. None of the contenders had more difficult terrain to navigate.
“I knew there was a huge chance I could maybe not finish,” said Shiffrin, who worked with Atomic in the offseason on bettering her skis for soft conditions and used it for the first time this season in Zagreb. “Sometimes I feel a little bit more nervous when I think about past victories, then it feels like I’m supposed to win, but that’s not a helpful feeling. .. I wasn’t feeling pressure today.”
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