Eight years ago, Mikaela Shiffrin started her first ever World Cup slalom race in Spindleruv Mlyn at the age of 15. On Saturday, the 23-year-old earned her 15th World Cup win of the season, breaking Vreni Schneider’s 88/89 record for most wins in a single season for any athlete, male or female.
“If you told me eight years ago at this race – my first race in World Cup – that I would be in this position right now, I wouldn’t believe it,” said Shiffrin. “It’s really, really special. My whole team – we’re celebrating it a lot – because it’s been an amazing year, it’s been an amazing career so far. But, at the same time, records are meant to be broken, and maybe me achieving this one will inspire a little girl who could beat my record someday. That’s what’s really important to me.”
Shiffrin has had nothing short of an amazing season. With two globes clinched and two more up for grabs, the American has the potential to continue breaking records well into next week at World Cup finals in Soldeu, Andorra. As a historic season comes to a close, Shiffrin has already felt some pressure release, and it showed in her slalom skiing. She skied two incredibly clean, fast runs, that separated her by second-place finisher Wendy Holdener by 0.85 seconds. Petra Vlhova rounded out the podium in third, 2.03 seconds off of Shiffrin’s winning time.
“I felt no pressure with globes, standings, or that kind of thing,” said Shiffrin. “Just that I really wanted to ski two really aggressive runs and I knew it was going to be bumpy in the second run. It was really important for me to be tough enough – in my mind – ‘I could still go really hard in the second run and be athletic and handle the bumps, and do my very best. I was thinking that if I take this risk maybe I will not be able to finish, but I want to try that – because I have nothing to lose.'”
Despite the snow and the rain, the track held in the second run due to the hard work of the organizing committee. Unfortunately, Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter, who had been sitting in third after the first run, was unable to hang on to her podium position. Costly mistakes sent the 33-year-old back into seventh, and Vlhova took over third place. Last week, Hansdotter announced that she plans to retire after World Cup finals, ending a fifteen-year career for the slalom specialist.
Wendy Holdener, on the other hand, kept her place in second after the first run to earn her best slalom finish in the World Cup season thus far. Holdener has stepped onto the slalom podium four other times in the 2018/19 season, always in third.
“I was really motivated for the last few races because I still feel good and I want to show my best skiing. I’m happy that I still have four races left,” said Holdener. “Someone told me that I’ve had six times in third place this season, so I’m really happy I took a little step forward and moved closer to the top.”
After winning the giant slalom on Friday, Vlhova’s third-place finish was the perfect end to the series in the Czech Republic. Her fans were just as loud and supportive as they were on Friday, creating an intimidating atmosphere for other athletes.
“I’m really proud of how I did. It’s not so easy to race in front of all of my fans. I’m lucky that Frida made some mistakes, but third place is third place, and today is a good day,” said Vlhova.
Sweden had a strong showing in Spindleruv Mlyn. In addition to Hansdotter, Anna Swenn Larsson and Emelie Wikstroem also landed in the top 10. Charlotta Saefvenberg finished just outside the margin in 11th. American veteran Resi Stiegler returned to the World Cup circuit after stepping out for most of the season due to injury but did not qualify for a second run.
Next up on the women’s docket are World Cup Finals in Soldeu, Andorra, where the 2018/19 crystal globe winners in downhill, super-G, and giant slalom, will be decided. The downhill will kick off the week for the ladies Wednesday, March 13th.
- Mikaela Shiffrin (USA): 1:38.98 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Wendy Holdener (SUI): +0.85 – Head/Head/Head
- Petra Vlhova (SVK): +2.03 – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Katharina Truppe (AUT): +2.63 – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Kristin Lysdahl (NOR): +2.73 – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Anna Swenn Larsson (SWE): +2.75 – Head/Head/Head
- Frida Hansdotter (SWE): +2.80 – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Meta Hrovat (SLO): +3.13 – Salomon/Salomon
- Emelie Wikstroem (SWE): +3.30 – Voelkl/Marker
- Christina Geiger (GER): +3.31 – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
For complete FIS results, click here.