Mikaela Shiffrin capped the best year of her career by setting yet another milestone Saturday, overtaking one of her childhood idols to become the most successful female slalom skier in the 52-year history of the World Cup.
In the final race of 2018, the American added her 36th victory. Shiffrin previously shared the record with Austria’s Marlies Raich, who, competing as Marlies Schild, won 35 times before retiring in 2014.
“She is my biggest idol beside Bode Miller,” Shiffrin said. “When I was young, I wanted to be the best skier in the world. I was always watching Marlies. She was a legend. To me, she is the best slalom skier. I wouldn’t be here without her. For me, she has this record forever.”
Only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark has won more World Cup slaloms. He claimed victory in 40 events between 1974 and 1987.
While it seems only a matter of time before Shiffrin will reach 40 wins as well, she was already looking forward to her own marks being bettered.
“Records are meant to be broken. Somebody is going to come and break my record, I hope, because that means maybe I have inspired someone as much as Marlies inspired me,” Shiffrin said. “If I can inspire any young athlete as much as she inspired me, then I did my job in this sport.”
Watched by 10,200 fans on the Zauberberg, Shiffrin built on a big first-run lead to beat Petra Vlhova of Slovakia by 0.29 seconds and Wendy Holdener of Switzerland by 0.38 for her 51st career victory.
By winning Saturday, Shiffrin also became the first skier, male or female, to win 15 World Cup races in a calendar year, moving one victory past men’s overall champion Marcel Hirscher of Austria, who has won 14 times in 2018.
Shiffrin and Hirscher beat the four-decade-old record set by Stenmark. But while Shiffrin competed in 27 events this year, Stenmark had only 19 races to gather 13 victories in 1979, when the World Cup did not yet include super-G races, parallel slaloms or city events.