Mikaela Shiffrin sweeps at Squaw Valley, secures slalom title
OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — With her fourth slalom globe already clinched, Mikaela Shiffrin outskied her rivals by more than a second Saturday to win her 31st career World Cup race.
The victory was sealed when first-run leader Wendy Holdener, of Switzerland, skied off course just a few gates from the finish.
“Sometimes you just have to fight and see what happens,” Shiffrin said. “With Wendy skiing out three gates from the finish, that was crazy, because I’ll never know now if she was faster or not.”
The raucous crowd cheered Shiffrin to victory two days before her 22nd birthday. The win gave her a sweep of the two World Cup races in Squaw Valley — she won Friday’s giant slalom as well.
Shiffrin was 1.03-seconds faster than the second-place finisher, Sarka Strachova, of the Czech Republic. Bernadette Schild, of Austria, finished third.
During the first run, Veronika Velez Zuzulova skied off course, which gave Shiffrin the season slalom title — even before Shiffrin left the start gate.
With the globe already in hand, Shiffrin skied conservatively and mistake-free in her first run, finishing 2-hundredths of a second behind Holdener.
“I took a little bit off the gas pedal in order to find a rhythm,” Shiffrin said.
CLOSER TO THE OVERALL
The win gives Shiffrin a 378-point lead in the overall standings — not enough to clinch, but very close. There are four races left in the season — all at next week’s World Cup Finals in Aspen. Each win is worth 100 points; second place is worth 80, with points descending through the top-15 finishers.
Only the top 25 in each discipline will compete in Aspen.
“It’s not a done deal, it’s not on paper yet, but it’s looking very good for me even if I wasn’t able to finish any of the races I’m going to compete in,” Shiffrin said.
She said the quest for the overall will not leave her mind from now until the end of the season — but that the pressure for Aspen is less after her two wins in Squaw Valley.
“At the same time I would really want to finish with a strong performance, especially in front of my home crowd and my home state. That would be amazing to have two more really strong performances (in the slalom and giant slalom).”
THIRTY ONE WINS IN 5 YEARS
Shiffrin said she probably won’t do any of the speed races in Aspen — the Aspen speed events are not a regular stop on the World Cup tour so she wouldn’t gain the scouting advantage. But, in the same breath, she said she’s thinking about doing the super-G.
“Because it looks like a really fun track, and at the end of the season sometimes it’s nice to just do a race for fun,” she said.
“But, I’m not sure, because, how I felt today, I might need the extra rest,” she said.
Her World Cup debut was five years ago to the day in the then-Czech Republic.
“I remember looking at all these girls thinking, ‘I wonder if I’m ever going to be as good as they are,’” she said.
Ed Stoner is editor of the Vail Daily, a sister news paper based in Vail, Colorado.
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