For Mikaela Shiffrin, 16 is oh so sweet.
The 24-year-old gave herself a belated birthday present with her 16th world cup victory of the season Saturday on the slopes of Andorra’s Soldeu-El Tarter ski area, coming from behind to win the slalom race of the world cup finals.
Shiffrin clocked 53.42 seconds on her first run, better than everyone except 2018 Olympic slalom silver medalist Wendy Holdener of Switzerland, who crossed the line in 53.14. But the American, whose birthday was Wednesday, was at the head of the pack on her second pass, descending in 54.73 seconds, 0.26 faster than Petra Vlhova of Slovakia, who has been the only skier really to challenge Shiffrin’s supremacy at all this year.
Shiffrin’s combined time of 1 minute, 48.15 seconds narrowly edged Holdener (1:48.22). Vlhova grabbed the final place on the podium, 1.2 seconds behind Shiffrin.
With her slalom win in Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic last weekend, Shiffrin became the first skier, male or female, to tally 15 world cup wins over the course of a single season, passing Switzerland’s Vreni Schneider, who won 14 titles during the 1988-89 season. Ten of those 15 wins have come in slalom.
With Saturday’s win, Shiffrin ties Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark for the all-time record of 40 world cup slalom victories and ties Croatian Janica Kostelic as the only skiers with eight slalom wins in a single season.
Beyond the numbers, Shiffrin has some crystal hardware coming to her. The two-time Olympic gold medalist has already clinched the 2019 overall globe as well as globes for slalom and super-G. With a top finish in Sunday’s giant slalom, where she holds a narrow lead over Vlhova in the standings, she could add a fourth title as well.