US skier Shiffrin takes slalom for 7th WCup win of season
ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Mikaela Shiffrin passed the 1,000-point milestone for the women’s World Cup season on Wednesday after just 14 starts.
The Olympic champion from the United States took a slalom by a huge margin for her seventh win of the season, and 38th overall.
After skipping two speed races in Val d’Isere last month, Shiffrin leads the overall standings with 1,081 points after 16 of this season’s 38 races. Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany, who didn’t enter Wednesday’s slalom, trails by 571 points in second.
If Shiffrin maintains her point average, she would finish the season by setting an all-time record of 2,567 points, easily beating the current best mark of 2,414 set by retired Slovenian standout Tina Maze five years ago.
“I don’t know if I will ever be able to do that. It’s not really one of my goals,” the American said. “I also have so much respect for the season that Tina Maze had with so many points, it was incredible. There is a part of me that hopes that nobody ever beats that because she should really be remembered as one of the best ski racers of all time.”
Shiffrin, who is the defending overall and four-time slalom World Cup champion, has won five of the last six World Cup races, including last week’s slalom in Lienz where she led the field by more than a second after the opening run, a feat she repeated on Wednesday.
In the second run, Shiffrin defied strong winds and heavy snowfall to beat Wendy Holdener of Switzerland by 1.59 seconds. Frida Hansdotter of Sweden was 2.11 behind in third, while Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, the only skier to beat Shiffrin in a slalom event this season, finished 2.24 off the lead in fourth.
“The second run was much closer,” said Shiffrin, who started the final leg with a 1.41-second advantage. “The first run I was really, really aggressive. It seems like, maybe, I was more aggressive than everyone else.”
After winning the Snow Queen Trophy, Shiffrin was handed a glass crown by Croatian great Janica Kostelic, though the jewelry dropped off her head and broke in pieces during the prize giving ceremony as the American struggled to open a champagne bottle.
In last year’s race on the Sljeme hill, Shiffrin was eying a record-equaling eighth straight slalom win but straddled a gate early in her first run.
“I love racing here so I wanted to come back and have a little bit of redemption and ski aggressive,” said Shiffrin, who also won the event in 2013 and 2015.
“If I am feeling really good with my skiing, I am confident and prepared, then I can go on the starting gate and really, really trust myself in my skiing,” she added. “Then I can have these kind of runs that are really fun for me to do but it’s really, really aggressive.”
The result stretched Holdener’s streak to 13 slalom podiums without a win, a World Cup record.
The Swiss skier has finished runner-up in the discipline seven times in total, and five times Shiffrin was the winner.
To Holdener, however, missing out on her maiden slalom triumph doesn’t frustrate her too much.
“I try, and if it works, it works. If not, then nothing has happened. I still love to ski, I am happy to be here and fight with those girls,” said Holdener, who did win a city event and a combined race in 2016.
A men’s slalom on the same course is scheduled for Thursday, while the women’s World Cup continues in Slovenia this weekend. Those races have been moved to Kranjska Gora because of a lack of snow and mild temperatures in Maribor.