Mikaela Shiffrin is always aiming to make great turns, and it’s working for her—big time. American records keep piling up for her. On Monday in Switzerland, she became the most decorated U.S. alpine ski racer in top-level competitions.
The Burke Mountain Academy grad won the women’s alpine combined race by a commanding 0.86 seconds at the 2021 Telepass FIS Alpine World Ski Championships on the Olympia delle Tofane courses at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
Shiffrin, 25, collected her ninth FIS World Championship medal, and her sixth gold in the International Ski Federation event held every two years. It was her first world gold in the alpine combined (super giant slalom and slalom) discipline.
Remarkably, in the seven World Championship or Winter Olympic competitions Shiffrin has entered since turning 17, she has won a gold medal on each occasion—including her Olympic gold medals in slalom (2014) and giant slalom (2018).
After taking the bronze medal with a third in Thursday’s world super giant slalom, Shiffrin emerged with her latest gold by placing third of 34 racers in Monday’s super giant slalom, and dominating the slalom run for a 0.86-second overall victory over Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova.
Plunging overnight temperatures resulted in the slalom course being set into a sheet of ice, causing 14 competitors to crash or ski out.
But Shiffrin’s formative years racing on ice surfaces in Vermont came in handy. She made the conditions look easy, building her lead by half a second at each split and amassing it to 2.35 seconds. Only Vlhova came close in the final accounting.
“I felt inspired. I just felt alive,” Shiffrin said in a post-race report filed by Courtney Harkins of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. “I just was pushing. I wish I could explain. The second run, that was maybe the top slalom skiing I’ve been able to do in a race.”
Along with recently retired Ted Ligety, Shiffrin had previously shared the American record for most world golds, with five apiece. With Thursday’s super-G bronze in her first speed race in more than a year, Shiffrin had tied Lindsey Vonn’s U.S. record of eight total medals.
“It was pretty fun!” Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team athlete Shiffrin told Harkins. “It was quite nice to ski today again. Beautiful weather and really nice in the super-G and again amazing in the slalom. It was tough conditions—like a real slalom—but I felt good and like I was pushing the whole time. It was nice when you feel like you’re skiing well and it works. Cool day.”
Shiffrin’s 0.86-second winning time was the widest winning margin in a World Championship women’s race since she beat Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener by 1.64 seconds for the 2017 world slalom title at St. Moritz, Switz.
The American—who doesn’t turn 26 until March 13—also joins an elite club of World Championship alpine combined medalists. Tamara McKinney took home gold in 1989—32 years ago—while Julia Mancuso snagged silver in 2007.
Shiffrin plans to race twice more at the Cortina world competition.
The women’s giant slalom is set for Thursday, Feb. 18. Shiffrin has yet to win gold in a world giant slalom race—topping out with a silver medal in 2017 at St. Moritz and third place behind gold medalist Vlhova during the 2019 race at Are, Sweden.
She is the four-time defending world women’s slalom gold medalist, boasting winning margins since 2013 of 0.22, 0.34, 1.64 and 0.58 seconds. That world event is scheduled for
Saturday, Feb. 20.