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When we talk about huge margins in ski racing, we’re still talking tenths of a second. Nevertheless, it’s common for the top 10 finishers of any alpine ski race—be it downhill, Super G, giant slalom or slalom—to all finish within hundredths of a second of each other. So when Mikaela Shiffrin, racing with bib number 12 in Sunday’s Lake Louise World Cup Super G, passed the third split on the course 0.5 seconds ahead of Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg, sitting in the leader’s box up until that point, it was clear Shiffrin was skiing the best Super G run of her racing career.
When Shiffrin skied across the finish line and saw her time and rank flash up on the display, she herself couldn’t quite believe what she had just done.
“I never felt a Super G run like that,” Shiffrin said. “I didn’t really have any expectations. If anything I expected that it wouldn’t be a great race, because I haven’t really done any full-length Super G since September. I had really good Super G training this summer, but I haven’t been on my Super G skis since then. So I was thinking, ‘OK, see what happens, try to do your best skiing.’”
There were still more racers to come, but with the top contenders—Rebensburg, Super-G crystal globe winner Tina Weirather (Austria), and last year’s Lake Louise Super G winner Lara Gut-Behrami (Switzerland)—already down the course, and with Shiffrin’s significant 0.83 second lead on Rebensburg, it looked like not only had Shiffrin just skied her best Super G, but that she had just won her first ever Super G race.
When Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel, racing with bib number 19, crossed the finish 0.77 behind Shiffrin and slid into second ahead of Rebensburg, it was clear that no one would come close to Shiffrin’s time of 1:19:41. It was official: Mikaela Shiffrin, starting in her ninth World Cup Super G race, had won the race, making her the first racer in the history of ski racing to win all six World Cup disciplines: slalom, parallel slalom, alpine combined, giant slalom, Super G, and downhill.
After an already successful weekend of racing in Lake Louise—Shiffrin finished top 10 and collected World Cup points in both downhill races—this win in Super G was icing on the cake.
“It was one of my big goals to win in every discipline when I first started racing…one of those goals that you don’t think you’re ever going to achieve, and it’s incredible,” Shiffrin said.
With her first Super G victory now under her belt, Shiffrin may change her competition plans slightly for the rest of the World Cup circuit. Traditionally, Shiffrin’s strongest events have been in the technical disciplines—slalom and giant slalom—so in years past she has focused on those events rather than also starting in all the speed events. “This season I’m still going to race just some Super Gs,” she said. “I plan to ski the Super G in St. Moritz [Switzerland], but then it’s up in the air.”
Though she missed out on a top 30 finish in Sunday’s Super G, American Alice Merryweather also had a successful race weekend in Lake Louise, picking up her first World Cup points of the season in both Friday’s and Saturday’s downhill.
Teammate Laurenne Ross, who collected World Cup points in Friday’s downhill, did not finish Sunday’s Super G course. After narrowly avoiding a crash when she lost her edge grip half way down the course, Ross skied out of the course. She posted on Instagram that she struggled with confidence in her equipment throughout the races in Lake Louise.
“I was so scared, all weekend. Every time I pushed out of the start discomfort and doubt took over… Something feels wrong with my setup, and as much of a bummer as it is to discover these issues at a race I am somewhat relieved to have made it safely through the week!” she posted.
From Lake Louise the women’s World Cup moves to St. Moritz, Switzerland, where the ladies will compete in their second slalom and Super G of the season, and their first parallel slalom event. Events kick off on Saturday, Dec. 8 with the Super G.