The Recorder – Shiffrin back on top of skiing after Olympic fights
Published: 03/17/2022 19:32:34
Modified: 03/17/2022 19:32:22
Far from her mystifying setbacks at the Olympics, Mikaela Shiffrin rose to the top of alpine skiing on Thursday.
A season that risked being defined by zero medals in six events in China ended instead with a triumph in the French Alps.
Shiffrin won the overall World Cup title on Thursday, the sport’s most coveted prize, with standout racing in the speed disciplines on back-to-back days in the week-long season finale.
An expected duel this week with defending champion Petra Vlhová has been settled with two races to go this weekend in their favorite slalom and giant slalom.
“It’s been some great times this season and it’s been some really tough times as well,” Shiffrin said. “To finish in style (and) to find very beautiful moments on the last races, it is really important and very special.”
The fourth giant crystal globe trophy of her career, and first since 2019, elevates 27-year-old Shiffrin to the level of former teammate Lindsey Vonn in World Cup history.
Only the six overall titles of Annemarie Moser-Pröll, the great Austrian who dominated the downhill in the 1970s, dominate the two Americans.
It was a surprise downhill win on Wednesday that propelled Shiffrin to the title. She backed him up with a smartly judged second-place finish in the super-G on Thursday to pull away from Vlhová, who failed to score points in both races.
Suddenly, his Olympic struggles just a month ago seem like a distant past.
“Just this week, right now, I’m really enjoying skiing,” Shiffrin said, while also acknowledging more doubt ahead of coming to Courchevel and Meribel.
She continued a checkered season in which five wins and 14 podiums in just 24 World Cup events made her inconsistent Olympics such an outlier.
It also included an enforced hiatus due to a COVID-19 infection in December and still coming to terms with the death of his father in an accident at the family’s Colorado home two years ago.
“Just the last week has been really down times (thinking) that I should just go home because I don’t think I’m really lucky,” Shiffrin said Thursday. “And somewhere, we’re here now.”
The “we” could just as easily have referred to her partnership with boyfriend Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, the Norwegian who also celebrated a success this week.
Kilde placed fourth in the men’s super-G on Thursday, but that discipline title was already locked, and he also added the downhill crystal trophy on Wednesday.
Running an hour after the women, Kilde was at the start further up the mountain when his girlfriend won. Instead, another Norwegian, Ragnhild Mowinckel, who had just won the super-G race, was the first to share a celebratory hug with Shiffrin.
The men’s race was won by Vincent Kriechmayr, adding to his downhill success on Wednesday at the Eclipse course in Courchevel.
Kriechmayr, who won gold medals in both sprint events at the 2021 world championships, is set to defend those titles on the same track next February when Courchevel hosts the men’s races at the 2023 world championships.
The women’s races at these world championships will take place near Meribel, where the Alpine Combined title is set to be defended by Shiffrin after dealing with “one of the most confusing seasons I’ve ever had”.