Courchevel

Mikaela Shiffrin wins 50th World Cup, youngest to hit milestone

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Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest Alpine skier to reach 50 World Cup wins and tied a childhood idol for the career slalom victories record, prevailing in Courchevel, France on Saturday.

Shiffrin won for the second straight day, for her fifth straight start and for the 14th time in 2018, extending her female World Cup record for one year.

She beat Slovakian rival Petra Vlhova by .29 of a second over two runs, making up a .04 deficit on the last split, 16 seconds before the finish. Full results are here.

A day after yelling at the finish line, out of character, Shiffrin was her quieter self on Saturday with a pair of subdued arm pumps while breathing heavily.

“Physically, my energy is good,” Shiffrin, who overcame a back injury and illness in recent weeks, said after having the fastest first run by .04 over Vlhova, “but mentally waking up is a struggle.”

The 23-year-old supplanted all-time wins leader Ingemar Stenmark as the quickest to 50 victories by age (by two months). However, Stenmark reached 50 wins in 100 starts, while Shiffrin did it in 142 starts. Lindsey Vonn did it in 297, according to Olympic historian Bill Mallon of the OlyMADMen.

“I was trying as hard as I could not to focus on [the 50 milestone] today because it’s so distracting to think about those numbers,” Shiffrin said. “There’s, like, a list of statistics and records that happened today, and I don’t even know what they are. … I’m not chasing these victories. I’m skiing freely.”

It’s likely Shiffrin gets to 60 World Cup wins before February’s world championships. The next five races through Jan. 8 are all giant slaloms or slaloms, Shiffrin’s specialties.

“I think she will beat all the records that you can beat,” said Swede Frida Hansdotter, who took slalom gold in PyeongChang (when Shiffrin was shockingly fourth) and was third on Saturday.

Shiffrin now has 35 slalom wins, matching retired Austrian Marlies Schild for the female record in that discipline. Shiffrin, who has 39 slalom wins if including head-to-head parallel events, still defers to Schild as the greatest female slalom skier ever.

“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 her old runs. “So I can’t ever feel like, oh yeah, I took that record from her.”

The World Cup moves to Semmering, Austria, for a giant slalom and slalom next weekend, streaming live on NBC Sports Gold.

“I’m going to go hibernate for the next four days,” Shiffrin joked.

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VIDEO: Swiss Olympian flown to hospital after World Cup downhill crash

Mikaela Shiffrin comes back for 49th World Cup win

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Make it 49 World Cup wins for Mikaela Shiffrin, not that she’s keeping track. She goes for No. 50 on Saturday.

The 23-year-old won her fourth straight World Cup start, capturing a giant slalom in snowy Courchevel, France, on Friday.

Shiffrin made up a .08 deficit from the first run to prevail by .14 over 2010 Olympic GS champion Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany. The second-run start was moved down due to the weather. Full results are here.

“Normally, I’m having trouble with this kind of conditions when it’s inconsistent or a little bit soft snow, and definitely I have trouble when it’s bad visibility,” said the normally reserved Coloradoan, who screamed a “Yes!” and “Woo!” when she skied into the lead by .33 with two skiers still to go, including first-run leader Rebensburg. “It’s really exciting today because those were the two things we were all battling in the second run. My skis felt just perfect.”

Shiffrin is the youngest skier to reach 49 World Cup wins and will be the youngest to 50 by winning any of the upcoming technical races ahead of the world championships in February.

“We were talking last night. I didn’t know how many wins I had,” said Shiffrin, whose first came Dec. 20, 2012 at age 17. “I mean, yeah, I know, but I’m trying to kind of ignore it. … It’s just a number.

“If you asked me five years ago, I would never think that I could be in this position.”

She has won six of her 10 starts this season and in every discipline save downhill and super combined (the latter, thought to be fazing out of the Alpine program, will only be contested once this season on Feb. 24).

Shiffrin skipped a downhill and super-G on Tuesday and Wednesday, a decision made before she felt back soreness after winning her last event, a parallel slalom, on Dec. 9.

One of Shiffrin’s goals is to become the fourth woman to win a race in every discipline in one season, joining Petra KronbergerJanica Kostelic and Tina Maze.

The next priority is Saturday’s slalom in Courchevel. Shiffrin is undefeated in her trademark event since finishing a shocking fourth at the PyeongChang Olympics, where she did win the GS. The event streams live on NBC Sports Gold and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA (broadcast info here).

Shiffrin is one shy of Austrian Marlies Schild‘s record 35 World Cup slalom victories.

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VIDEO: Swiss Olympian flown to hospital after World Cup downhill crash

Mikaela Shiffrin edges rival in head-to-head for World Cup win (video)

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Mikaela Shiffrin edged her top slalom rival, head to head, for her 35th World Cup victory and fourth this season on Wednesday night.

Shiffrin, the youngest Olympic slalom champion, won a parallel slalom under the lights in Courchevel, France.

She beat Slovenian Petra Vlhova by .04 in the final, a matchup of the two women who combined to win the previous five World Cup slaloms dating to last season.

“I was in the start gate, I’m like, not today,” Shiffrin said with a laugh. “I always know that I’m going head to head with her, but normally I’m on course or she’s on course, and we’re not on courses together. That was a really cool way to experience that kind of fight with her.”

Shiffrin had the fastest qualifying run in the afternoon, then went through five rounds of head-to-head racing on a compressed course. It took about 20 seconds to complete each matchup.

She dispatched Frenchwoman Coralie Frasse Sombet, Austrians Carmen Thalmann and Ricarda Haaser and Italian Irene Curtoni before topping Vlhova in the final.

Shiffrin broke her tie with Vlhova for the World Cup slalom standings lead after three of a scheduled 12 races.

Vlhova won the last slalom of the 2016-17 season and the first slalom this season. Now, Shiffrin has taken two straight slaloms.

Shiffrin has raced 24 World Cup slaloms in the last three years, winning 19 with a pair of second- and third-place finishes and one DNF.

Shiffrin became the second woman to win four World Cup races in six straight seasons. The other is Lindsey Vonn, who holds the female record of 78 World Cup victories.

The Alpine World Cup continues with a giant slalom and slalom on Dec. 28-29 in Lienz, Austria, the site of Shiffrin’s first of 51 World Cup podiums six years ago.

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