Mikaela Shiffrin poses for a photo at the Audi FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup on Jan. 5, 2019 in Zagreb, Croatia.
True competitor that she is, Mikaela Shiffrin was looking forward to this one.
After beginning her 2019 with a silver-medal finish to Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova in parallel slalom at a city event in Oslo on New Year’s Day, the two-time Olympic gold medalist picked up her first win of the year and fourth career Snow Queen title Saturday in Zagreb, Croatia, besting a slalom field that included Vlhova and 2018 Olympic slalom champion Frida Hansdotter of Sweden.
Did what has become a rare loss earlier this week shake Shiffrin? Nah. The 23-year-old acknowledged Vlhova’s victory in Oslo — and the season’s whirlwind schedule — in an Instagram post Friday.
“5 races. 12 days. 3 countries. It’s a grind, but it’s fun, and I’m looking forward to another big fight tomorrow night under the lights of Zagreb,” she wrote. “Congrats again in Oslo, @petravlhova13 - you deserved it!!”
Nevertheless, on Saturday Shiffrin was hungry to prove yet again that she’s the queen of the slalom. She was the only competitor to deal with the course in under a minute on the first run, clocking 59.70 seconds, more than a second faster than anyone else.
Though 0.09 slower than Vlhova on her second attempt, Shiffrin’s combined time of 2 minutes, 1.09 seconds was enough to give her the victory over Vlhova and triple 2018 Olympic medalist Wendy Holdener of Switzerland, who edged Hansdotter for bronze. Few were able to stop Shiffrin in slalom last year, and from the look of things on the course in Croatia, 2019 bodes no different.
With her 37th world cup victory in slalom — no other woman has won more than 35 — Shiffrin continues to make history. It was her 52nd world cup win overall, edging her ever closer to the records of the sport’s all-time greats. Another three titles and she’ll move from seventh to sixth on the all-time wins list ahead of Austrian legend Hermann Meier. One more after that and she’ll pass Switzerland’s Vreni Schneider, who tallied 55.
The endgoal is the record of the great Swedish champion (and slalom specialist) Ingemar Steinmark, who has 86, though Shiffrin says she’s just focusing on skiing as well as she possibly can. Everyone else, however, is looking forward to it.