The women’s World Cup season isn’t even halfway over, but EagleVail’s Mikaela Shiffrin already has such a massive lead in the overall standings that she can be choosy about skipping speed-event weekends to rest and train without putting her lead in jeopardy if she wants.
Shiffrin is the defending overall champion and is bidding to become the fourth American to win multiple overall titles. Lindsey Vonn won skiing’s ultimate prize four times, Phil Mahre three and Bode Miller two.
Shiffrin captured her ninth win in 16 races this season on Saturday, prevailing in a giant slalom on a rainy day in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. With 22 races remaining this season — not including those at the upcoming PyeongChang Olympics which are separate from the World Cup — Shiffrin leads the overall standings with an astounding cushion of 1,181 points over Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany (534).
And she did it Saturday despite being sick.
“Actually a lot of girls have been sick,” Shiffrin said in the post-race news conference. “Maybe nobody was skiing at 100 percent today. So I thought this morning, ‘OK, I feel bad, but that’s no excuse.’ It’s not a very long course, so that was perfect because I had energy to do enough skiing. In the second run it was a bit of a fight.”
Shiffrin led after the first run by 0.86 of a second. That’s a lot in ski racing, but there was concern whether she could make it hold up in the second run because of above-freezing temperatures, the rain and having to start 30th on a course that was bound to deteriorate before she went. Shiffrin managed her second run well, though, and took the win with a margin of 0.31 of a second over Tessa Worley of France. Sofia Goggia of Italy was third, 0.91 behind.
“In the second run it was a bit of a fight, but I’m happy with the day,” Shiffrin said. “I didn’t purposely make it more interesting, but it was a really fast, really straight course. I wanted to be aggressive but also didn’t want to risk everything. I did my best. I had some really good turns and some little mistakes. Really, really happy with the win today, but I’m even more excited with how I’m feeling on my skis right now. It’s really cool.”
It wasn’t a good day for Rebensburg, who finished 11th. Not only did she lose a lot more ground in the overall standings but she also lost her lead in the giant slalom standings to Shiffrin, who also leads the slalom and downhill standings.
Shiffrin’s lead in the downhill standings is a bit misleading because there have been only two downhills, a pair at Canada’s Lake Louise resort the first weekend of December, where she was first and third. They were the first podium appearances of her career in downhill, and she is unlikely to race every downhill the rest of the season, but they were highlights in a season that is shaping up to be one for the ages.
Sunday’s slalom in Kranjska Gora will complete a hectic stretch for the women in technical races as it is their sixth race in 11 days.
World Cup overall standings after 17 of 39 races
Mikaela Shiffrin, EagleVail, 1,181 points
Viktoria Rebensburg, Germany, 534
Petra Vlhova, Slovakia, 504
World Cup giant slalom standings after five of nine races
Shiffrin, 385 points
Tessa Worley, France, 330