Mikaela Shiffrin closing in on Lindsey Vonn’s World Cup record


The journey from the mountain in Levi, Finland – where Mikaela Shiffrin opened the World Cup Alpine season by winning the first two races, adding trophies to the pile that is limitless – includes a run back to the hotel in 45 minutes to pack up, drive to nearby Kittila for the flight to Helsinki for being at the airport terminal to sleep before 4:30 am for the 6:30 am flight to Frankfurt, Germany, to catch another flight to Boston, where he can pack his bags. rented a car and drove three hours to Killington, Vt., arriving at 8 p.m

Of course there is fatigue. There are many other things.

He said: “After running, I’m wired, I can’t sleep. “I just feel like, ‘Aaaaaah!’ Especially the way this season started, it’s so beautiful, I can’t turn off my brain. “

Which is to say that Shiffrin’s brain has an off switch at all. There is little evidence of that. The two slalom victories in Finland were the 75th and 76th victories of the world championship with few peers. Lindsey Vonn holds the women’s record with 82, and Ingemar Stenmark holds the human mark at 86. That’s the club. It’s very small.

When you start considering the slalom that Killington has raced five times, Shiffrin has won all five, and do the math that he has three seasons where he has won more than 12 races – well, the nightmare begins. as real.

“The way I think about it is that if I get to a point in my career where I’m winning enough, I’ll finally start to feel confident that I’m a winner and I deserve to be there and succeed. well come on. I’m there,” Shiffrin said this week in a phone interview from Killington. “I’m done there. I am here to go.

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“And I understand now that it will never be like that. And every morning I wake up, the first thing I think is: What can I do today to get that again?”

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He has won all of his sports medals: Olympic gold medals (two), world gold medals (six points), all World Cup titles (four), every race and discipline offered. Driving, Daily Motivation: Get it Again.

“That’s good,” he continued. “That’s not a bad feeling. In some ways, I think it’s almost a good way to live, not to look at things that have gone well in the past, and try to keep working towards the dream. you – wherever they take you. “

Killington — giant slalom Saturday, slalom Sunday — is the only U.S. stop in the women’s World Cup schedule. Shiffrin loves the programs, just two hours from where he received training in organizing, at Vermont’s Burke Mountain Academy. He said: “It was such a gift, such a kind atmosphere, such a kind crowd.

But it’s also a business trip. She is there to work, while some on the women’s circuit continue to race in Lake Louise, Canada, next week, she will return to Europe to concentrate on training for technical events, giant slalom and slalom, which. he has posted 63 of his 76 World Cup wins.

In talking to Shiffrin over the years, starting when she was 17 and bursting into international competition leading up to her first Olympic Games in 2014 in Sochi, Russia, I often wondered whether her pre-race nervousness or it’s his relentless pursuit of perfection – he’s a training and video junkie – and the joy he gets from winning. Now that he’s 27 years old and somehow closer to the end of his career than the beginning, I find myself thinking about him backwards.

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Take some training with Levi in ​​the weeks before the competition. Instead of returning to the Copper Mountains in Colorado, where most American runners train for speed, US runners stay in Europe and train in Finland – with some of Europe’s best. There, fellow American Paula Moltzan was lying scalding hot after a fire.

“I’d be like, ‘What am I going to do to try to find him?’ Shiffrin said. “Then maybe I’ll get neck and neck or I’ll have to hurry – then it’ll take a lot of time.” And his voice is taken into account here. “Those days are days nice smile. That’s amazing to have in such a training environment.”

We see the results and count the victories and find out what is possible and what will be fiction. For Shiffrin, there’s more joy in what we don’t see.

“It’s like I’m skiing for the training, and how much more fun it is to train when I’m skiing well, vs. running,” Shiffrin said. “The running part is the kind of thing that makes me question even if I want to do this, and the training is what keeps me coming back.”

After the sudden and tragic death of his father, Jeff, in early 2020 and the epidemic and all the destruction it caused, the return is not always guaranteed. The Beijing Olympics that not only did not medal but also did not finish the slalom, giant slalom or Alpine combined can move it to the race. Retirement – even at 27, with the historical mark on the front – is usually somewhere in front of the stove, slowly simmering.

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“I’m glad I’ve stuck with it this far, but it’s still something that often goes through my mind,” Shiffrin said. “When will the time come that I will decide that the job is not worth it anymore? And I don’t feel that until now because the job – I really enjoy doing the job.”

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In his case, the work is almost always productive. This result only raises the stakes the game’s history has reached. But while Vonn’s and Stenmark’s marks are certainly in his field of vision, it doesn’t make them Shiffrin’s main inspiration.

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a reason, that I never thought about it,” Shiffrin said. “But it’s not the cause.

“Lindsey, she has earned the respect of the entire world of skiing. Throughout her career, most of the things she does are heartbreaking. So everything I do does, it doesn’t change anything that happened in his career. I would be happy to hold that record. But it’s not something that makes me feel any kind of satisfaction when I look back on my career.”

He can look back on his career and realize that he has already accomplished more than he expected. The rest of us can look ahead and see the signs in the sky. Cheers for the crowd at Killington who will be rejoicing in another Shiffrin win. The joy for Shiffrin will be an increase in training next week. Both can be in the same space. They all lead to the same place – with unprecedented achievements – that make it difficult to turn off the brain.


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