Shiffrin wins slalom bronze, her 4th medal at this world championships in Italy
“Some days I feel good ... and then the next day it hits you like a train. What I’ve heard is it’s like this the rest of your life”
The reign was going to end sometime.
Mikaela Shiffrin couldn’t win FIS Alpine World Ski Championships indefinitely. But after four straight crowns in 2013 (Schladming, Austria), 2015 (Beaver Creek), 2017 (St. Moritz) and 2019 (Are, Sweden), it seemed somewhat endless
Shiffrin, of Edwards, closed out the world championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, on Saturday with a bronze medal in the slalom, her fourth medal at the two-week world championships.
Her 11th world championship medal ties her with France’s Marielle Goitschel and Sweden’s Anja Paerson for the most by a woman in the modern era (since 1948).
Austria’s Katharina Liensberger won the slalom on Saturday, and Petra Vlhova finished with the silver; Shiffrin finished 1.98 seconds behind the leader after sitting in fourth after the the first race.
“It’s been a pretty incredible couple of weeks,” Shiffriin told the NBC Sports broadcast after the slalom, still breathing heavily under her mask. “I never imagined that I could win four medals in one world championships. That’s quite a spectacular feeling.”
Shiffrin went on to add she wished she could have placed better in some races over the two weeks, but knew her competition was strong.
“It’s been a lot of ups and downs, for sure,” she said of her challenges this year. “It’s been a very emotional year. Right now, I’m feeling pretty grateful to be able to smile a lot more often. Every day I feel a little more excited for the next day to come. … It’s come a long way in a year.”
In addition to ski racing challenges this past year as well as COVID-19, Shiffrin has been dealing with the death of her father in February of 2020.
“Some days I feel good … and then the next day it hits you like a train. What I’ve heard is it’s like this the rest of your life,” Shiffrin said. “I don’t think there’s a time I feel perfect, but these two weeks have been a big step in my ability to focus and control my emotions during the day and still fight.”
On Thursday, Feb. 12, Shiffrin opened the worlds with a bronze in the super-G. On Monday, she won the combined — her first time competing in the event at the world championships. On Thursday, she took silver in the GS; followed by Saturday’s bronze in slalom.
With six world championships titles and 11 medals, Shiffrin is the most decorated U.S. skier in worlds history.
Who won worlds?
There is no official champion of the world championships, but it’s a fun game to play. In some ways, Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami takes the unofficial title with super-G and giant slalom golds and downhill bronze.
Liensberger receives consideration as well. The Austrian had never won on the World Cup tour, but takes two golds from Cortina in parallel and slalom and a GS bronze. The 23-year-old has been part of the Austrian gold rush in the Dolomites — five gold medals and two bronzes.
Fellow teammates Vincent Kriechmayr (men’s super-G and downhill) and Marco Schwarz (Alpine combined) also landed on the top step during the last two weeks. Schwarz will be the favorite in Sunday’s finale, men’s slalom.
But Shiffrin? She definitely has a claim as well. Medaling in four of the traditional five events does the trick. in an era when the traditional all-around skier is an endangered species, Shiffrin reminded everyone of her preeminent skills.
The stat of Cortina 2021
Mikaela Shiffrin has entered 13 races during five different championships and never missed the top 10, medaling in 11. Again, her “worst” showing at worlds was eighth in GS here at Beaver Creek.
Even the greatest of the great struggle at worlds.
* Ingemar Stenmark: Like Shiffrin, he was a tech racer, meaning that he would finish racers more often than speedsters. At the same time, Stenmark medaled in “only” 6-of-14 worlds races. He DNF’d in his first two worlds in slalom before winning three straight titles.
• Hermann Maier: He had a terrific debut at worlds, winning super-G (in a tie with Norway’s Lasse Kjus) and downhill before DNF-ing in GS at Vail/Beaver Creek 1999. Maier finished with three total golds at the championships (2005 GS). In Maier’s fifth worlds, he was 13th in the downhill, seventh in the super-G and 21st in the GS.
• Marcel Hirscher: Maier’s Austrian tech counterpart went through a run of 11 medals in 14 events at worlds from 2013-19. He didn’t medal at his first championships in 2009 and was injured in 2011.
• Lindsey Vonn: Yes, we tread on dangerous ground here. Apples and oranges, yes, but Vonn didn’t have the crossover success that Shiffrin has had at worlds. Vonn’s best tech finish at this event was 14th in the giant slalom at Beaver Creek in 2015. Vonn’s best finish in the combined was fourth in 2005. Shiffrin has a gold in the combi and gold (2019) and bronze (2021) in super-G.
Vail Daily Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart contributed reporting to this story.
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