American Mikaela Shiffrin secured her fifth overall Alpine Skiing World Cup title on Saturday following her fifth-place finish in the downhill of Kvitfjell in Norway, in a wild season where she is chasing still the absolute record of victories.
There are still seven races left on the world circuit schedule – a maximum of 700 points to be won – but, by beating Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami in Saturday’s race, Shiffrin, who now has a lead of 796 points, is certain to lift the big crystal globe after the finals in Andorra on March 19.
“It’s pretty special to have it already,” Shiffrin, 27, reacted after the race. “It takes a little weight off my shoulders. So at least it’s done (…) and I can enjoy even more,” she rejoiced.
With five victories in the general classification (after 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022), the trophy which rewards the most regular and most complete skiers, she joins Luxembourg’s Marc Girardelli, terror of the 1980s and 1990s, on the list of winners. only the Austrians Annemarie Moser-Pröll (6) and Marcel Hirscher (8) remain.
The Colorado native secured the title before the end of the downhill, won by Norwegian Kajsa Vickhoff Lie.
– In search of Stenmark’s record –
Starting in the first bibs, the 24-year-old Scandinavian skier kept the lead throughout for her first victory on the circuit and the first victory for a Norwegian in this specialty in the World Cup.
She was ahead of the Italian Sofia Goggia (2nd at 29/100th), who herself pocketed the downhill World Cup, and the Swiss Corinne Suter (3rd at 41/100th).
Shiffrin ranked 5th, 79/100th, while Lara Gut-Behrami, the only one who could theoretically still be ahead of her in the general classification, finished 21st.
Holder of the title in the general classification, the American, who shares the life of the Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, flew over the season with 14 podiums, including 11 victories in 25 starts.
The main title acquired, she still chases the absolute record of 86 victories in the World Cup of Swede Ingemar Stenmark.
With 85 successes accumulated over the past twelve years, this emblematic brand of world alpine skiing is reaching out to it.
– Back from the “ridiculous” –
She will have a new chance to reach it on Sunday with a super-G, still in Kvitfjell, or more surely next week in Are (Sweden), on the lands of Stenmark, with her favorite disciplines (giant and slalom).
Midway through her record-breaking season, Shiffrin also used the “break” from the World Championships in Méribel, where she picked up three medals (giant gold, super-G and slalom silver), to complete her huge collection. of 14 world podiums.
She said on Saturday that she also hoped to win the globe in giant slalom.
This accumulation of success shows that the American has been able to recover from the trials of life.
The loss of her father and mentor Jeff in February 2020 in a domestic accident had plunged her into endless grief and cut the momentum of her career.
Shiffrin also had to overcome the “ridiculous” (in her words) Beijing Olympics last year, where she crashed three times and won no medals.
Last summer, she consulted a sports psychologist, according to NBC Sports, who “helped her to know herself better, and to be more independent” according to her mother.
“This is my first season with so much mental energy,” she explained, about her spectacular revival.