Mikaela Shiffrin was overcome with emotion after becoming the most successful woman in World Cup skiing history with the 83rd win of her illustrious career on Tuesday.
American star Shiffrin is now alone on top of the world thanks to a thrilling giant slalom victory in Kronplatz, which moved her ahead of compatriot Lindsay Vonn and closer to the overall record of 86 wins held by Swedish icon Ingemar Stenmark.
At just 27 years of age, Shiffrin is in position to overtake Stenmark and may even catch up with him ahead of next month’s World Championships in Courchevel and Meribel.
Shiffrin’s record-breaking moment came after she beat reigning giant slalom world champion Lara Guth-Behrami by 0.45 seconds, with home hope Federica Brignone completing the podium some 1.43 seconds off the pace.
Visibly affected, Shiffrin struggled to talk about her achievement, telling Eurosport: “I don’t know if I can add anything,” before praising the people who prepared the Kronplatz circuit instead of talking about what she had just achieved.
“It’s the best conditions we’ve had in a race all season, which is hard to say coming from Cortina,” she said, struggling to get the words out.
Afterwards, Shiffrin collected herself enough to try to explain the range of emotions she was hit with after the historic victory that saw her climb to the top of the giant slalom standings, 49 points ahead of Italy’s Marta Bassino, who finished 10th .
She also extended her lead over nearest rival Gut-Behrami at the top of the overall standings to 556 as a fifth Crystal Globe looks almost certain.
“Breathe and enjoy”
“I don’t think there are words to describe the feelings because during the day it’s stressful, sometimes calm, sometimes nervous, sometimes excited,” Shiffrin says.
“And these days, with two runs and everything, they’re long days, they’re exhausting, but at the end there’s so much excitement, there’s too much excitement to feel (anything).
“It’s not something you can explain, so I just tried to breathe a little bit and enjoy it.”
Next stop is the generation-long record held by Stenmark, who dominated men’s slalom and giant slalom for a decade from 1975 before retiring in 1989. Shiffrin will have a chance to get closer to Kronplatz on Wednesday with another giant slalom race.
“I hope it doesn’t go to number 84 straight away because I’d like to do something tomorrow,” Brignone joked.
This weekend there are also two races in Spindleruv Mlyn in the slalom discipline from which 51 of her World Cup victories have come.
Shiffrin returned in emphatic style after a nightmare Olympics in Beijing last year where she failed to win a single medal.
“It’s pretty amazing to be part of this competition, you have to push yourself to the limit…” she said.
“If you make one mistake, if it’s a big enough mistake, then you’re off the podium, out of the win, maybe fifth or 10th, so you have to take risks and sometimes it’s going to be good and sometimes it’s not.
I think it’s important to always take the good bits from our skiing and keep trying to push because that’s what’s really exciting.”