Mikaela Shiffrin ends World Cup with one more victory, two more records and a revelation

Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin finished a record-breaking season with two others.

Shiffrin won the giant slalom in the World Cup final on the final day of the campaign, breaking her ties for the most career women’s giant slalom wins and the most career podium finishes in any race in the Women’s World Cup.

Shiffrin earned his record 88th career World Cup win, winning by six hundredths over Thea Louise Stjernesund of Norway combining the times of two races in Andorra on Sunday.


She won her 21st career giant slalom race, breaking her tie for the most all-time Women’s World Cup tally with Vreni SchneiderSwiss star of the 80s and 90s.

She made her 138th career World Cup podium in all events, breaking her tie for the most all-time Women’s World Cup with Lindsey Vonn. Shiffrin notched her 138th podium in her 249th start, meaning she has finished in the top three in 55% of her World Cup races since making her debut as a 15-year-old in 2011.

Earlier this season, Shiffrin passed Vonn and Ingemar Stenmark, a Swede in the 1970s and 1980s, for the most career victories in the Alpine Skiing World Cup. She won 14 times from November to March, her second-best season after her record-breaking 17-win campaign in 2018-19.

During those intervening years, Shiffrin endured the toughest times of her life, was supplanted as the best slalom skier in the world, and challenged her skiing like never before.

On Saturday afternoon, Shiffrin was asked what made the difference this fall and winter. There were several factors. She detailed an important one.

“I had a lot of memory problems,” she told a news conference. “Not this season, so much, but last season and the season before. I couldn’t remember the lessons. And when I was going through that, I couldn’t save the mental energy for the second runs.

Inspecting the course before the race and being able to retain that knowledge for a minute over an hour later is integral to success in ski racing. Shiffrin is so meticulous and methodical in his training, historically giving him priority over running in his junior days, this inspection would seem to fit into his world preparation.

She didn’t understand how she lost this ability until she started working with a new sports psychologist last summer.

“It was kind of like less focus on sports psychology and more on the psychology of psychology and a little more on style of grief counseling,” she said. “Explaining what was really going on in my brain, like chemical changes in the brain due to trauma. Not just the grief, but actually the traumatic experience itself of knowing what happened to my father, seeing him in the hospital, touching him after his death. These are things you can’t get out of your head. It had an impact. Obviously, that’s still the case.

Shiffrin had a “strange a-ha moment” after his first course inspection this season in November in Finland.

“I didn’t take that long to inspect and remembered the whole route,” she said. “Oh my God, I was like stepping out of a cloud I had been in for over two years.”

What followed was a win, of course, and a season that came close to Shiffrin’s unmatched 2018-19. Fourteen victories in 31 World Cup starts, his busiest season ever, and winning the season titles in overall, slalom and breakaway GS.

“After last season, I didn’t feel like I could get to a level of skiing where I was competing for the world of slalom,” she said. “And GS, I actually had a bit more hope, but at the start of the season I kind of counted myself.

“I feel like my highest level of skiing has been higher than the previous two seasons, maybe higher than my entire career. My average level of skiing has also been higher than previous seasons, and my lowest ski level was also higher.

There are other reasons for the resurgence of dominance, although Shiffrin was also the best skier in the world last season (Olympics aside). She went out of her way on Saturday afternoon to credit her head coach of seven years, mike daywho left the team during the world championships after learning he would not be selected for next season.

“He’s as much a part of this season’s success as he’s ever been,” said Shiffrin, who parted ways with Day to embark. Karin Harjothe first woman to be his head coach as a pro.

Shiffrin’s biggest hit this season began around the time she watched a chairlift interview in mid-December between a retired skier from Liechtenstein Tina Weirather and Italian Sophie Goggia, the best downhiller in the world. Goggia spoke of his disdain for mediocrity.

“Since then, pretty much every time I put my skis on, I’m like, ‘OK, don’t be mediocre today,’” Shiffrin said in January.

During the highs of this season, Shiffrin felt like she did in 2018-19.

“It’s mind-boggling for me to be in a position again where I could feel that kind of momentum throughout a season because after that [2018-19] season, I was like, this will never happen again, and my best days of my career are really behind me, which was kind of sad to feel it at this point four years ago,” said Shiffrin, who turned 28 last week. “This season, if anything, it just proved that, taking 17 wins [from 2018-19] aside or the discs or all of those things, you can still feel that kind of momentum.

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Mikaela Shiffrin ends World Cup with one more win, two more records and a revelation originally published on NBCSports.com

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