Mikaela Shiffrin clinches World Cup title and awaits 86th victory

Associated press4 minute read

KVITFJELL, Norway — American skier Mikaela Shiffrin accomplished what she called “the big, big goal for me this season.”

But it was not a record 86th career win.

Shiffrin clinched his fifth overall World Cup title on Saturday, widely regarded as the biggest prize in ski racing, tied for fifth in a downhill.

“It’s really amazing. That (overall title) was like the big, big goal for me this season,” Shiffrin said. “I was so focused on it that I even talked about it in interviews at the start of the season. Normally I don’t talk about it so much because it takes a long time to find out if you can do it.”

The American’s quest for another race win has been extended for at least another day as she was scheduled to compete in a super-G on Sunday.

Shiffrin needs a win to tie Ingemar Stenmark’s tally on the all-time winning list for either men or women. Shiffrin broke a tie on the all-time women’s roster with former USA teammate Lindsey Vonn in January. Vonn had 82 wins when she retired in 2019.

Saturday’s race was won by local favorite Kajsa Vickhoff Lie, who became the first Norwegian to win a downhill in the 56-year history of the Ski World Cup.

“We’re so used to the (Norwegian) men winning in the downhill, so I didn’t even know that until this season,” Lie said. “For me, I wanted to win a downhill. It was my dream. And it was always my dream to have a home race, to have everyone here. I wanted to give them a show.”

Sofia Goggia finished second by 0.29 seconds as the Italian again claimed the downhill title of the season.

“I feel good. I mean, it’s my fourth downhill globe, third in a row. I’m really happy with it,” Goggia said. “But I’m not so happy with the performance today. I didn’t ski very well, I wasn’t as fluid as on the training runs.”

Olympic champion Corinne Suter and two-time world champion Ilka Stuhec placed third and fourth.

Shiffrin and Austrian skier Ramona Siebenhofer both finished 0.79 seconds behind Lie.

The result was enough for Shiffrin to extend his overall lead to an insurmountable 796 points with seven races to go. Her only competitor for the Crystal Globe, two-time former overall champion Lara Gut-Behrami, finished 21st.

“It’s pretty wild, actually. The general classification, or any season title, is always strange to explain what it feels like the day you win it when you don’t win the race,” said said Shiffrin.

“I think people find it exciting when there’s a battle until the final race,” she added. “But there’s so much left to do this season, and it’s been so amazing, so for me it’s pretty special to have him already now. I can take the weight off my shoulders a bit.”

Mikaela Shiffrin called her fifth overall World Cup title a “big, big goal” for her this season.EPA/Stian Lysberg Solum

Shiffrin won the overall title three years in a row from 2017 to 2019 and again last year. She moved into second place on the list of all-time women’s titles, one behind the six won by Annemarie Moser-Proell in the 1970s.

The overall record is held by another Austrian great, Marcel Hirscher, who won it for eight consecutive seasons from 2012 to 2019.

His overall championship came five weeks after Shiffrin won the season title in slalom for a record seventh time.

Asked in a TV interview after the race about her remaining goals for the season, Shiffrin did not mention Stenmark’s record.

“If I had one last wish for the season, maybe it’s too much, but the GS Globe would be like, yeah…” Shiffrin said. “So I could be quite happy with the season.”

Shiffrin holds a 118-point lead in the giant slalom standings with two races to go.

The race at the Olympiabakken course, which is an annual track on the men’s circuit but hosted women’s races for the first time in 20 years, was held in sunny conditions, but high winds affected the race.

The organizers decided to adapt the course and bypass the Russi jump, deemed potentially too dangerous after skiers jumped up to 50 meters there in training.

Cornelia Huetter, who won Friday’s super-G, lost her balance and slipped off the course midway through her race but avoided injury.

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