Mikaela Shiffrin Clinches Win No. 85, Just One Shy of the All-Time World Cup Record
Shiffrin's victory in the first of two slaloms in the Czech Republic brings her within one win of Ingemar Stenmark's record set in 1989.
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Mikaela Shiffrin’s World Cup wins are starting to tick off like miles on a road trip. 82. 83. 84. The latest—number 85—came in a slalom in the Czech town of Spindleruv Mlyn. Shiffrin led the race from start to finish.
“My feeling is so good on my skis right now,” Shiffrin said after the race. “I could really enjoy the day. For sure a little bit of nerves. But mostly I was just trying to push. And even with a mistake on the course I was like, I don’t care, I’m just going, and if I don’t finish, I actually don’t care because I just want to yeah, ski like crazy.”
Shiffrin won both runs for a total time of 1:33.85, over a half-second ahead of runner-up Lena Duerr from Germany, and 1.30 seconds ahead of Wendy Holdener who moved onto the podium after Petra Vlhova struggled in her second run. And with the third-fastest second run, American Paula Moltzan jumped from 11th to finish fifth.
But no one was a match for Shiffrin, who has, somehow, found an even higher level of skiing. She is, as commentator Steve Porino said on the live stream, “Shiffrin 2.0,” a looser, more on-the-edge skier, seeking the next gate and the next, and tearing down through the course with almost a smile on her face.
Watch: Mikaela Shiffrin World Cup Victory #85
In previous interviews and press conferences, she has talked about the return of her mental energy. For the past three years, since the death of her father, she has suffered from mental and emotional exhaustion. She is still grieving the death of her father, but the fog, in a sense, has lifted.
“The last seasons I could pretty much remember most of the first run and then I blacked out on the last 15 gates, and the second round, I had no chance, and people were like, ‘Why can’t you ski fast in the second run anymore?’” she explained in a conference call earlier this week. “Like, I don’t know, I feel foggy. I can’t.
“This is the first season where I feel like I actually have some level of mental energy basically,” she explained.
With Shiffrin’s skiing back on track—and then some—it seems for now that everyone else is racing for second place. And not just in slalom but giant slalom as well. She currently leads the GS standings by 118 points, slalom by almost 200 points, and the overall by a whopping 617 points.
In other words, Shiffrin could skip at least six World Cup races and still win the overall title.
Related: Mikaela Shiffrin is now breaking her own records
Shiffrin’s skiing in the past month alone has been something to behold. As the New Year dawned, Shiffrin stood at 80 World Cup victories. Then over the past three-and-a-half-weeks, she has won almost half of her total wins for the year to date (five of 11, and counting). And as the wins have mounted, she surpassed the mark set by one legend and is standing at the door of another.
With one more slalom tomorrow in Špindlerův Mlýn, Shiffrin could tie Ingemar Stenmark’s all-time high water mark of 86 World Cup wins.
“You know, I don’t feel a lot of pressure to get this record because now I’m so close that it’s like, just take a breath and enjoy the moments we’re in now,” said Shiffrin, sounding happy and relaxed. “It’s unbelievable to me how this season has gone already. And I’m trying to take the moment to enjoy it.”
She is also happy that her fans are on board too. FIS posted on Instagram, “Is she going to do it this weekend?” Many of the comments indicated that her fans did not care. They just want to see more of her good skiing.
“I was like, ‘Finally, people get it!’” gushed Shiffrin.
It’s worth noting that Shiffrin’s World Cup career began in Špindlerův Mlýn almost a dozen years ago. It was a GS-SL World Cup weekend on the eve of Shiffrin’s 16th birthday in March 2011. In that slalom (won by her idol Marlies Schild), Shiffrin missed qualifying for a second run by 0.05 seconds.
Little did she know that in 2023, at this same Czech ski resort, she would be on the verge of winning more World Cup races than any other ski racer in history.
Shiffrin reminisced about racing in Špindlerův Mlýn (translation: Spindler’s Mill), a resort that has only hosted four World Cup weekends. Shiffrin’s father was with her during her first race there, back in 2011. And he was with her in 2019—the last time the World Cup stopped at the Czech resort. She won that slalom, too.
“I feel really comfortable and happy to be here,” she said. “But I can feel there’s something missing. I don’t know how to say it but, his presence is not here, and that’s kind of a sad feeling. It makes me appreciate all the good things that are happening in my life. And it also it gives me some extra feeling that I can, I don’t know, miss him or honor him just by skiing well and focusing on the right things.”
The women’s World Cup continues tomorrow with one more slalom in Špindlerův Mlýn before a three-week break for world championships. Shiffrin is on a roll. But she knows all too well that the winning could end at any moment. She has, after all, competed in 12 races in 24 days.
For the moment, she is reveling in, well, the moment.
“It was just an amazing day from the moment I woke up, I felt good and ready to go,” she said. “And then my skiing, I’m so happy with how I skied.”
“So 85, it’s like the icing on the cake, and if I get 86, … I don’t know if it’s gonna be tomorrow,” she continued. “I think other athletes have a chance to win it. We’re going to have to find out tomorrow.”