Colorado’s Mikaela Shiffrin, 25, marched back into the Audi FIS World Cup slalom conversation in a record-breaking way under the floodlights of one of her favorite courses at Flachau, Austria on Tuesday.
In the final slalom before the 2021 FIS World Alpine Ski Championships, Shiffrin ended a 13-month victory drought in her strongest discipline and posted her 68th career World Cup victory along with her 100th career race podium.
Shiffrin mastered the 68-gate Hermann Maier course twice—leading the first run by .08 seconds and posting the second-fastest final run for a 0.19-second victory with a 1:47.92 clocking over Austria’s Katharina Liensberger (1:48.11).
At Flachau, Shiffrin has been on the podium eight times in eight slaloms since 2013, winning four times.
The four-time world slalom champion and 2014 Olympic slalom gold medalist officially broke the women’s World Cup record for most wins in a single discipline. She now has 44 slalom victories. It was her first slalom win on the tour since Dec. 29, 2019 at Lienz, Austria.
“I felt inspired. I just felt alive,” said Shiffrin 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.”
In the last slalom before next month’s world championships, Shiffrin moved into third place in World Cup slalom ranks with 335 points, behind leader Petra Vlhova of Slovakia (400) and 23-year-old Liensberger (360), who had been seeking her first World Cup win.
Vlhova had won seven of the eight World Cup slaloms since Shiffrin’s last victory at Lienz. The American was away from the circuit for much of 2020 because of the death of her father and a back injury.
But with her second victory of the 2020-21 season, after her giant slalom success Dec. 14 at Courchevel, France, Shiffrin moved into sole possession of third place on the all-time World Cup victory list, behind Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark (86 wins from 1973-89) and American Lindsey Vonn (82).
She is the eighth skier in the 54-year World Cup history to reach the 100-podium mark, including top female competitors Vonn (137 from 2001-2019), Annemarie Moser-Proell of Austria (114 from 1969-80), Renate Goetschl of Austria (110 from 1993-2009) and Vreni Schneider of Switzerland (101 from 1984-95).
Although Shiffrin has only raced in seven of the 14 World Cup women’s races this season, with four podiums including two wins, she is second on the prize money list with $177,433 behind Vlhova ($249,231).
World Cup overall leader Vlhova (699 points) is followed by Michelle Gisin of Switzerland (575), third-place Shiffrin (485) and fourth-place Liensberger (460).
Next up for the women are giant slaloms Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 16-17, at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. The 2021 World Championships are Feb. 8-21 at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, with the women’s slalom scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 20.