Mikaela Shiffrin rallies in parallel slalom for third straight World Cup win

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Mikaela Shiffrin earned a third straight World Cup win, her fifth in nine races this season and the 48th of her career, taking a parallel slalom in St. Moritz, Switzerland on Sunday. But it was close.

The Olympic slalom and giant slalom champion cruised through the bracket-format event before a close final. Shiffrin qualified fastest by .48 of a second, then won each of her four head-to-head rounds by clear margins (1.31, .62, .2 and .56) before rallying to beat Slovakian Petra Vlhova by .11 in the final.

Last December, Shiffrin edged Vlhova by .04 in a parallel slalom.

“I saw the look in her eyes before the final at the start,” Shiffrin said of her younger rival. “I was thinking, ooh, she really wants to beat me.”

Shiffrin made an early mistake in the final and trailed Vlhova midway down the side-by-side courses before pushing ahead in the last several gates.

“I was going a little bit off the course, and I could see her next to me, just ahead,” Shiffrin said. “She was going faster and faster, and I was thinking, oh, no, you’re giving it away.”

Shiffrin is the first woman to win five of the first nine races in a season since Lindsey Vonn in 2011.

“If you want to beat her,” Vlhova said, “you have to go without any mistake.”

Shiffrin, who has been a little ill in St. Moritz, will skip next week’s downhill and super-G in Val Gardena, Italy. Her next expected starts are a Dec. 21-22 giant slalom and slalom in Courchevel, France.

If Shiffrin wins that slalom, she will tie Austrian Marlies Schild‘s record 35 slalom victories. If she wins both Courchevel races, Shiffrin will tie Alberto Tomba for seventh on the World Cup list with 50 victories.

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Mikaela Shiffrin wins another super-G, moves up World Cup all-time list

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Mikaela Shiffrin cautioned after winning her first super-G on Sunday — at her most familiar speed-race venue in Canada — that it might not augur success in speed events the rest of the season.

Well, Shiffrin won another super-G in Switzerland on Saturday.

The Olympic slalom and giant slalom champion conquered the St. Moritz course by .28 of a second over Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami. Full results are here.

“I really did not expect to win today,” Shiffrin said, adding that she’s “a little bit sick.” “I was trying to … forget that I won the [Sunday] race and forget that I had, maybe, expectations.”

It’s Shiffrin’s 47th World Cup win, breaking a tie with retired Austrian Renate Götschl for fourth on the women’s all-time list behind Lindsey Vonn (82), Annemarie Moser-Pröll (62) and Vreni Schneider (55). Götschl started a record 408 World Cups; Shiffrin passed her in her 139th start at age 23.

She joined Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso as the only U.S. women to win multiple World Cup super-Gs. Vonn is out, likely until January, with a knee injury from a November training crash and is expected to retire a year from now. Mancuso retired last season.

Shiffrin has now won half of the eight races this season, taking a 293-point standings lead as she chases a third straight World Cup overall crown. She picked up her 33rd and 34th slalom victories, plus her maiden super-G wins in her ninth and 10th starts in the discipline. She became the seventh woman to earn World Cup wins in all five disciplines over a career.

Shiffrin is a clear favorite for another win in a parallel slalom on Sunday in St. Moritz (Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, 7:30 a.m. ET).

Shiffrin, who is selective when it comes to entering speed races, will skip the following World Cup downhill and super-G in Val Gardena, Italy, according to The Associated Press.

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Is Mikaela Shiffrin chasing records? Not exactly

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With every win these days, Mikaela Shiffrin breaks a record (or approaches one) or joins an exclusive club of the greatest skiers in modern history.

Asked what she thought of that kind of chatter to which media clings, she said, “I don’t consider myself a record chaser,” on a U.S. Ski and Snowboard media call Wednesday.

“My opinion of the sport and of what I want to do in the sport is to be considered one of the best technical skiers and essentially to win,” Shiffrin said. “Not to win a certain number of races, but just to be able to get in the start and have the ability to be the best racer on any given day in any given event.

“With that comes winning races and getting closer to these records. I’m not chasing that. These people who have come before and who have set these records, I don’t feel like I’m ever going to compete with that.”

What the 23-year-old from Vail, Colo., has done is become a factor no matter the event, no matter the location. Shiffrin became the seventh woman to earn a World Cup win in all five disciplines with her first super-G victory on Sunday in Lake Louise, Alberta. She took a more aggressive line than speed specialists with far more experience.

Her steady increase in training and racing the speed events of downhill and super-G the last few years was done “with the hope that at some point I would be able to be a contender to win in all disciplines,” she said. “I think the point for me was not necessarily to actually be the best in every discipline, but more just to be one of the people that every time I get in the starting gate, everyone’s watching because they know that I can. I have the ability. I think that’s where I’m at right now.”

When looking at her finishes this past weekend — ninth and fourth in downhills followed by the super-G win — consider that the vast majority of Shiffrin’s training this fall has been for her trademark technical events of slalom and giant slalom. Also consider that she has more experience at Lake Louise than the rest of the speed venues on the World Cup.

The circuit moves to St. Moritz, Switzerland, for a super-G on Saturday and a parallel slalom on Sunday, live on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and NBC Sports Gold. A full weekend TV schedule is here. Shiffrin is a clear favorite in the latter and some sort of a contender in the former, having placed 20th in the super-G there last year in her lone speed start at the two-time Winter Olympic host.

Her next win — her 47th — will move Shiffrin into sole position of fourth place on the women’s World Cup career wins list. Her next slalom win — her 35th — will tie Marlies Schild for the record in that discipline.

The stat that accompanies every Shiffrin victory is the number of wins she has attained before she turns 24 on March 13.

Lindsey Vonn had 13 at the same age, but what Vonn has done late in her career (23 wins in her 30s) is anomalous like Shiffrin’s early 20s resume. Ingemar Stenmark, the record holder with 86 victories, won 52 times before turning 24 in 1980. Annemarie Moser-Pröll, who held the female record before Vonn broke it, had 42 wins before age 24, with a one-year retirement mixed in. Different statistics can be used to argue different views.

“I’m sort of torn,” about the record talk and historical comparisons, Shiffrin said. “First of all, it’s an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence as some of the all-time greatest skiers. So that is very flattering. But, in some ways, I don’t think it’s comparable.”

Shiffrin has said she will always consider childhood idol Schild the greatest slalom skier of all time.

“She was the one who made it possible for me to ski slalom the way that I do,” said Shiffrin, who as a teen studied video of Schild’s technique and said last month that she still watches the Austrian’s old runs. “So I can’t ever feel like, oh yeah, I took that record from her.”

Bode Miller was another of Shiffrin’s early inspirations. Like Shiffrin, Miller made his first Olympic team in slalom and giant slalom only. He went on to win at least five times in each discipline on the World Cup.

“It is an incredible feeling to know that my dream as a little girl, watching my big, all-time inspirations in the sport, that dream, I’ve been able to succeed and realize that dream,” Shiffrin said. “Now I guess the trick is just continuing to work.”

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