After 26 World Cup starts across four disciplines this season, 24-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin still had gas left in the tank to ski to her 17th World Cup victory in the final giant slalom race of the 2018-’19 season and nab her first career World Cup Giant Slalom Globe—and her fourth Globe this season.
Recap: Shiffrin Wins Super-G Globe
On March 17, Shiffrin launched herself down the giant slalom course in Soldeu, Andorra with one goal in mind: leave nothing on the race course. Though she’d already clinched three World Cup titles—the overall, super-G, and slalom titles— at these World Cup finals in Soldeu, and though there was a good chance that at the end of the day she would be walking away with her first World Cup Giant Slalom Globe thanks her significant margin of lead in this event, Shiffrin didn’t want to ski her final GS of the season like that was a given.
“When I woke up this morning, I was thinking I have the chance to win the GS globe today. It’s not finished, but I want to ski a really good GS,” Shiffrin said after the race. “I want to be aggressive and I want to take some risks—I want to earn the globe, and not just ski to protect points. I could come in 10th place and win the globe and ski really conservatively and not be proud of it, or I could really go for it and risk the chance of not finishing and the chance that Petra [Vlhova] could win, and that I might not get [the globe]. But I wanted to be proud of my skiing and I wanted to really deserve it.”
So on Saturday, Shiffrin skied one of her strongest GS races of the season, crossing the finish line in her first run more than half a second ahead of Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg, and 0.97 seconds ahead of runner-up to the GS Crystal Globe, Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, to head into the second run as the leader.
Vlhova went into the second run in fourth place, while 2019 GS Junior World Champion Alice Robinson from New Zealand dazzled the crowd and fellow competitors with an astonishing performance that positioned her in third place heading into the second run.
Though Vlhova, Robinson, and France’s Tessa Worley, who was third in line for the GS Globe, put up an impressive fight in the second run, it was not enough to catch Shiffrin, who despite a serious error in the last section of the course crossed the finish line as the overall winner by 0.30 seconds, securing her first career World Cup giant slalom title.
Upon accepting the GS Globe in the finish area after the race, Shiffrin became emotional with the realization of what she had just achieved.
“It feels like I’ve been dreaming about the Giant Slalom Globe for so long—since before I was on the World Cup, when I was also dreaming about the Slalom Globe,” Shiffrin said.
“And now the Slalom Globe has come I don’t know how many times, but the GS Globe was always something I was working for, but I was never able to be the best GS skier. There was always somebody who was faster, somebody who was taking more risks, somebody who was better on their skis. The last eight years I’ve been thinking I might never get the GS Globe, so it was so many emotions to finally celebrate that in the finish today.”
Meanwhile 17-year-old Robinson celebrated bursting onto the World Cup scene in a big way with a second-place finish—her first World Cup podium. Vlhova, who skied the fastest second run of the day, had to settle for third overall in Saturday’s race. See full results here.
“Alice skied amazing today,” Shiffrin commented. “She was attacking both runs…she did amazing skiing in the first run and backed it up with her second run. She had an amazing performance and now she has her first World Cup podium. That’s super cool.”
With the 2018-’19 World Cup season finished, Shiffrin will now take some much deserved and needed rest before off-season training begins in a few months. But while next season’s World Cup races are still a long way off, chances are they aren’t far from Shiffrin’s mind.
Read more: What Off-Season?
“One thing that doess keep [this season] in perspective is someone like Alice Robinson coming down into second with two runs of amazing skiing, and feeling like, I don’t know, next season has started,” Shiffrin told U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “There is always a new reason to be motivated.”
Men’s Soldeu World Cup Finals
On Saturday the men raced in their final slalom race in Soldeu, and despite finishing 14—France’s Clement Noel skied to his third World Cup slalom win of the season—Hirscher’s lead margin in the category was so great heading into this final race that he was able to secure his sixth consecutive World Cup Giant Slalom Globe, in addition to his overall and slalom titles earned this season.
No American men started in Saturday’s slalom final, though both Ted Ligety and Tommy Ford finished Friday’s giant slalom final in 8 and 17 place, respectively. Thanks to consistent top-10 finishes this season, Ford ends the season ranked 10 in the world in GS.