By Courtney Harkins/USSA
ASPEN, CO (Mar. 18, 2017) – On a sunny day in Aspen, a kid who grew up ski racing in Vermont captured ski racing’s highest prize. Just five years after taking home her first podium World Cup finish, Burke Mountain Academy grad Mikaela Shiffrin, took home her fourth slalom crystal globe in five years and clinched the coveted overall crystal globe at the Audi FIS Ski World Cup Finals. Shiffrin, who just turned 22 on March 13, is the youngest woman to do so since 2003. (see Shiffrin Poised to Win.)
While Shiffrin didn’t win Saturday’s slalom, she took second place behind Petra Vlhova of Slovakia. Shiffrin was placed third after first run—just .07 seconds behind Vlhova—and though she put down a fast run second run to bump Frida Hansdotter of Sweden to third, she couldn’t take the win.
“It’s not always about the globe or World Cup points, but racing at home in front of the crowd and putting on a show,” said Shiffrin. “For sure I wanted to win, but today was just as good of a show with Petra taking the lead at the final split. It’s really cool for her and cool for me. The crowd was cheering for me, but for her too.”
Sunday will be first time in five years that an American woman will hoist the overall crystal globe, but Shiffrin showed off her slalom globe on Saturday in front of the 7,000-person crowd in Aspen. Shiffrin joins an elite crowd of American ski racers that have won the overall World Cup title, including Tamara McKinney (Squaw Valley, CA), Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO), Phil Mahre (Yakima, WA) and Bode Miller (Franconia, NH).
Shiffrin, however, still has more goals to achieve. “Today I have the slalom globe, but my other goal is to win every single slalom. I don’t know if I’ll ever do it but that’s the kind of ambition I have. I wanted to finish out the season strong,” she said.
Shiffrin had worked hard all season and improved her GS performances while maintaining her lead in slalom. “I remember when Tina Maze had her big, big season (in 2012-13) and she said to me at the end, ‘Don’t do every event. It’s so exhausting.’ Now a couple years later, I understand. I feel fatigued. It’s a tough balance.”
Shiffrin learned she had won the overall globe on Friday. “It incredible,” she said. ” The odd thing is that I don’t know how I feel about it—I’m happy, it’s a good thing. When I found out yesterday—I was in my hotel room, taking a nap, and my mom said Ilka’s not racing the slalom, so now on paper you’ve won the overall. It’s odd to say I won something in ski racing when I wasn’t actually out there,” said Shiffrin. “It feels a little more real today and it will feel more real tomorrow when I’m actually holding it. But it’s something hard to describe.”
Tommy Ford (Bend, OR) was the lone American to compete in the men’s giant slalom Saturday, taking 18th place. Ted Ligety (Park City, UT), who has won the giant slalom globe five times and is recovering from back surgery, cheered him on in the finish.
“It’s been a learning year,” said Ford, who finished in the top 20 four times this season. “I’ve been progressing throughout the years and keep moving through. I think that was a good second run and I’m psyched for nationals.”
Although Marcel Hirscher of Austria had already wrapped up the giant slalom, slalom and overall crystal globe, he didn’t hold back in the GS. He had a come-from-behind victory, taking the win by over half a second, bringing his season win tally to six. Felix Neureuther of Germany was second and Mathieu Faivre of France third.
The World Cup Finals wraps Sunday with the men’s slalom and women’s giant slalom. Tessa Worley holds an 80-point lead over Shiffrin in the hunt for the GS globe. In order for Shiffrin to win it, Worley has to finish 16th place or lower, while Shiffrin has to win or be second. Both Shiffrin and Worley have won three giant slalom races this season.
BROADCAST (all times EDT)
Sunday, March 19
11:00 – Women’s GS – run 1 – nbcsports.com/live – LIVE STREAM
12:00 – Men’s GS – run 1 – nbcsports.com/live – LIVE STREAM
1:00 p.m. – Men and women’s giant slalom – run 2 – NBCSN – LIVE
WORLD CUP WINNERS/LEADERS
Overall – Marcel Hirscher, Austria
Downhill – Peter Fill, Italy
Super G – Kjetil Jansrud, Norway
Giant Slalom – Marcel Hirscher, Austria
Slalom – Marcel Hirscher, Austria
Alpine Combined – Alexis Pinturault, France
Overall – Mikaela Shiffrin, USA
Downhill – Ilka Stuhec, Slovenia
Super G – Tina Weirather, Liechtenstein
Giant Slalom – Tessa Worley, France – holds 80 point lead over Mikaela Shiffrin
Slalom – Mikaela Shiffrin, USA
Alpine Combined – Ilka Stuhec, Slovenia