Skiing slalom on Ruthie’s Run in Aspen, Colorado, just a two-hour driver from her home in Eagle-Vail, Mikaela Shiffrin put on a show for her fellow Americans Saturday afternoon by taking second at the World Cup Finals.
The reigning Olympic gold medalist and three-time reigning world slalom champion, Shiffrin was in third place after Saturday’s first run, uncharacteristically giving time back on the bottom third of the course to trail Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova by 0.07 seconds.
With her fourth slalom crystal globe and first overall world cup globe already firmly secured, it would have been easy for Shiffrin to be content to coast through her second run and into the arms of an adoring crowd.
But that’s not Mikaela Shiffrin.
Instead, with her coaches urging “C’mon Mikaela, full throttle!” as she left the starting gate, she went full speed ahead. Wearing the lucky No. 7 bib she sported last weekend when she swept slalom and giant slalom wins in Squaw Valley, California, Shiffrin skied with her usual fluid, a grace that belies her highly competitive nature.
Her total time of 1:32.24 was 0.11 seconds faster than Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter, but Vlhova was able to turn a 0.15-second deficit two-thirds of the way down the course into a 0.24 advantage for a total of 1:32.00, good for her second career world cup victory and sixth career podium.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever process that,” Shiffrin said of winning the overall title in a post-race television interview. “It’s been a goal and a dream of mine since I was 5 years old and it’s difficult to really understanding something that finally happens after all those years.”
With 11 victories this season, Shiffrin is one shy of matching the record set by teammate Lindsey Vonn five years ago. She said she would use Saturday’s result as motivation in Sunday’s giant slalom, where she has the chance to tie Vonn and add yet another crystal globe to her haul during Sunday’s giant slalom. Currently second in the standings and trailing France’s Tessa Worley by 80 points, Shiffrin would have to win the race and Worley place 14th or lower to gain the season title.
“I’m definitely motivated after today,” she said. “I don’t want to leave anything out there.”