Shiffrin Wins 87th World Cup, Becomes G.O.A.T, Winningest Alpine Skier In History

Exactly 12 years after she began racing on the World Cup, Mikaela Shiffrin of the Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team won her 87th World Cup in the Åre, Sweden slalom on March 11, 2023, breaking the tie of 86 wins set by Ingemar Stenmark in 1989 to become the winningest alpine skier in history.

For the second day in a row, Shiffrin dominated the Swedish course to take her second win in two days and officially break the record. She held the lead in the first run by .69 seconds and skied an aggressive and smart run second run to win the race by .94 seconds. As she crossed the finish line, she took a moment to let her historic win soak in, and then she saw her brother Taylor and sister-in-law Kristi, who surprised Shiffrin by flying in from the U.S. to celebrate with her, and swept her up in a hug.

“I can’t put a name with the numbers,” said Shiffrin. “I don’t know how to define that. When you have these special moments like being on the podium with Paula Moltzan in Semmering, seeing my brother and Kristi and my mom in the finish today—that’s what makes it memorable. I’m so proud of the skiing I did both runs today and so proud of the team this whole season. Every step of the way, being strong and focused and positive and having the right goals and helping me manage my own focus and distractions. It’s been incredible. It’s been incredible to be part of that. I’m just really thankful.”

Just off the podium was Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team teammate Moltzan in fourth place, who recently had hand surgery after breaking it during the World Championships. But she ignored the three plates and 25 screws in her hand, and attacked the slalom course to secure a banner finish.

Shiffrin won her first World Cup at the same venue in Åre, Sweden in 2012 and has been on a streak since then, winning 87 Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cups throughout her 12 years on the circuit. Her dominance has been unmatched, winning 35% of the races she starts and podiuming in nearly 60%. The win places her securely in the history books and makes her the greatest of all time in the sport of alpine ski racing.

“It’s been hard to describe,” said Shiffrin of her record. “It’s not over yet, which is even more ridiculous! I still had the same feeling at the start of this run that I have every race—I shouldn’t feel pressure, but somehow I feel something in my heartbeat. That’s the anticipation we want to feel as ski racers and I have it—it’s stronger than ever. I’m just getting started.”

“Those are the moments that make this,” Shiffrin said, the tears still in her eyes. “I can’t put a name with the numbers, I’ve said this the whole time, I don’t know how to define that but when you have these special moments like being on the podium with Paula Moltzan in Semmering, seeing my brother and Christie and my mum in the finish today, that’s what makes it memorable.

“What an unbelievable day.

“I am so proud of the skiing I did both runs today. I am so proud of the team this whole season, every step of the way being strong and focused and positive and having the right goals and helping me manage my own focus and the distractions as well, it’s been incredible.”

Shiffrin tied the World Cup wins record on March 10 in Are, Sweden with 86 wins, which had been held by Sweden’s Stenmark for 34 years. Shiffrin also tied and then broke Lindsey Vonn’s women’s record of 82 wins in January in Kronplatz, Italy. She has been unstoppable this season, winning 13 races so far, securing three World Championship medals in slalom, giant slalom and super-G and clinching the slalom, giant slalom and overall crystal globe for the 2022-23 season.

Shiffrin’s 87th win is just 12 years after she started her first race on the World Cup in 2011 when she was only 15. She won her first World Cup nine months later in December 2012, becoming the second-youngest American to win an alpine World Cup. Since then, she has won three Olympic medals—including two golds—and 14 World Championship medals—the record for World Championships medals in the modern era—and has 15 crystal globes, including the three that she will receive at World Cup Finals.

Out of her 87 wins, 53 of them are slalom wins, the most of any skier, man or woman, in one discipline. But while she started off as a slalom specialist, she quickly expanded her repertoire to win a race in each of the World Cup’s six disciplines and became the first skier in history to do so: slalom (53), giant slalom (20), super-G (5), downhill (3), combined (1) and parallel (5). She holds the record for the most slalom wins and is tied for a women’s record for the most giant slalom World Cup victories.

“She deserves the record more than anyone else,” Ingemar Stenmark told the FIS.

“It’s just fun. She is a great skier and seems to be a very sympathetic person. So, I just think it’s nice for her.”

The two-time Olympic gold medallist and five-time world champion caused Alpine fever in the Scandinavian country in the 70s and 80s. He reached the top of a World Cup podium for the first time in 1974, took three consecutive overall World Cup titles between 1976 and 1978, and claimed his 86th World Cup victory in February 1989, a couple of weeks before retiring.

Stenmark’s record stood for 34 years. It could have fallen sooner: the USA’s Lindsey Vonn claimed her 82nd World Cup win in March 2018 before injuries forced her retirement at the age of 34.

Having seen Shiffrin in action, however, Stenmark knew his record did not have many years left.

“Already back then I said that Shiffrin will definitely get 100 wins. And I still think she will do that if she continues,” he said.

Shiffrin is the ultimate ski racer according to Stenmark  “She is a complete skier. She has a good technique, but it’s not only that. She has physical strength, she has a strong head – those things combined make her so good.

“And she’s smart too. She doesn’t have to race at 100%’s speed. She knows that the others have to go beyond their ability (to beat her) and that they will make some mistakes.”

Shiffrin has often hailed Stenmark as an inspiration and someone who set the standards for today’s racers. The Alpine icon is humbled by her words.

“She seems to know who I am anyway,” he said.

“It’s a bit incomprehensible to me. It’s been so long since I quit.”

The Swedish technical specialist is hesitant to compare similarities between himself and the new record holder, but agrees it takes a different level of drive to get to 86 World Cup wins and beyond.

“To reach the top and be able to keep winning so many competitions, you have to try to find a new motivation, new goals. And that’s what’s hard when you’ve been around for a while and when you’ve won a lot,” Stenmark said.

“She is starting to get – and is already – good at super-G. And she can do downhill races well too, so perhaps that’s a new motivation for her.”

“It is truly magnificent to be able to watch Mikaela Shiffrin write her name into history,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard President & CEO Sophie Goldschmidt. “She is the definition of a champion, both inside and out, and the Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team couldn’t be happier to celebrate this massive achievement with her. We can’t wait to watch Mikaela win even more in the future!”

“Congratulations on one of the greatest achievements in the history of sports, Mikaela,” FIS President Johan Eliasch said. “This was a record which was thought to be almost unbreakable. You are an inspiration for generations to come.”

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