Mikaela Shiffrin tied Lindsey Vonn‘s female record with her 82nd career World Cup win, taking a giant slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, on Sunday.
Shiffrin’s first bid to break the record will be Tuesday in a night slalom in Flachau, Austria, live on Peacock.
The only Alpine skier with more World Cup wins than Shiffrin is Swede Ingemar Stenmark, who racked up 86 in the 1970s and ’80s.
On Sunday, Shiffrin said she developed a face rash and felt like she could pass out at the start because she was so nervous. Yet she was fastest in both runs and prevailed by .77 of a second over Italian Federica Brignone. She pumped her arms and yelled after finishing, then sat with her arms folded around her knees.
“I don’t care about the number,” Shiffrin said. “I just focus on the skiing.”
The 2012 song “Hall of Fame” by the Script began playing over loud speakers, followed by Tina Turner‘s “Simply the Best.”
“I don’t know why [I was so nervous], maybe a little bit was because of 82,” said Shiffrin, saying it was maybe the most nervous she has ever felt at a ski race. “I really wanted to ski it well, and I did.
“I hope some day I can ski like that again because it was maybe the best skiing I ever did in a GS.”
Later, Shiffrin shed tears on the podium.
“My dad used to be there and taking pictures, and most races these days, I’ll think about him,” Shiffrin said of her father, Jeff, who died unexpectedly on Feb. 2, 2020. “Before I ever won my first World Cup, he said, ‘You better memorize the words of the national anthem, because if you ever win, you better sing it.’ And so I always think about him when I’m up there.”
Shiffrin continued a torrid start to the season with her eighth victory in 15 tries, which included a five-race win streak that was snapped when she tied for sixth in a GS on Saturday.
“The heart’s beating, and I can’t feel my legs,” she said. “Every time I feel that, then I try to be more powerful, like somehow push harder instead of being too nice to the trail or something.”
The 27-year-old has as many victories this season as her last two seasons combined. The last time she won this many races in one season was her record 17-win campaign in 2018-19.
It took Shiffrin 233 World Cup starts to reach 82 wins. Vonn won her 82nd around her 390th start at age 33. Stenmark won his 82nd at age 29 around his 220th start, according to ski-db.com (when extracting parallel races that didn’t count as World Cups back then).
Shiffrin also moved into solo second place for women’s World Cup giant slalom wins with her 17th, trailing only Swiss Vreni Schneider, who won 20. Shiffrin already owns the most slalom wins for men or women with 51, a record for any discipline.
Attention now turns to breaking the record she now shares with Vonn, then pursuing Stenmark. One person who is not focused on it: Shiffrin.
“Maybe at some point people will stop talking about it,” she laughed. “It’s not my goal, but it’s an important thing. I’m not very good at finding words to describe that. If I get there, I hope I can keep it in my own head in a way that it’s not a relief to get to 86 because it would be such a shame to feel relieved about 86 victories, because then it’s over. I should just celebrate whatever comes for the next races and for the rest of my career because I don’t want to ruin it by chasing some record that probably shouldn’t be broken anyway.”
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