Mikaela Shiffrin can become “the first to win 100 races, and even more”: in an interview with AFP, the legendary Ingemar Stenmark does not hide his admiration for the American who can equal or even exceed in Are (Sweden) on Friday and on Saturday, his record 86 Alpine Skiing World Cup victories.
QUESTION: Mikaela Shiffrin, who has 85 World Cup victories, could reach or even beat your record on Friday and Saturday, what does that inspire you?
ANSWER: “I’m happy for her. It’s really deserved. She’s an excellent skier, with fantastic technique. She’s very talented. She seems to be very friendly, too. So I’m happy that it be her.”
Q: You set this record in 1986, did you expect to hold it for that long?
A: “I didn’t think about it too much. I can’t even remember the day I set the record. It wasn’t really important to me. Of course, when I won (for the 86th times) in 1986, I thought I was going to keep the title for a long time. But I knew that I would end up being overwhelmed.
Q: What characteristics make Mikaela Shiffrin the skier who will undoubtedly break your record?
A: “She has everything: good physical skills, good balance and a strong mind. She is so talented that other skiers have to take risks to beat her and thus make small mistakes. Whereas she can ski in a safer way while winning.”
Q: While a large part of her victories have been in slalom and giant slalom, she has also won in super-G, downhill and combined…
A: “It’s very impressive, because I could never have done that. It was already very demanding for me to train in slalom and giant slalom, and we didn’t have so many races. In my first five years of competing in the World Cup, there were about fifteen races, seven in slalom and eight in giant slalom, something like that. That was already enough for me. I needed to train between each race… But her, I don’t know how many races she has in a winter, maybe 40. I don’t understand how she manages to train in so many disciplines. a super talent and she doesn’t need to train, I don’t know.”
Q: How far do you see it going?
A: “Already four years ago, I thought to myself that she would be the first to win 100 races, and even more, if she remains in good health. But it is a problem for skiers, if they don’t don’t hurt their knees, they end up with back problems.”
Q: She will be 28 on March 13, how many more years do you think she can run?
A: “I don’t know. Women often stop earlier to devote themselves to their family. So maybe 32, 33 years old. She can go up to 40 years old I think. But I don’t know if it’s what she wants. There are other important things in life. It’s not just skiing.”
Q: After the loss of his father in 2020, his results went down. This year, she explained that she benefited from a sports psychologist to improve her mental health, which also had an impact on her physical health. How important is mental health to ski racing?
A: “It’s very important. You also have to have good friends, a stable private life, not having to worry about problems with families or companions, that sort of thing.”
Q: What are you planning to do this weekend?
A: “Ah! I have to watch the races (the giant slalom on Friday and the slalom on Saturday, editor’s note). I’m traveling, but I’ll try to watch the races. I wish her good luck, and I hope she will beat my record soon.”
Comments collected during a telephone interview by Maëlle LIONS-GEOLLOT