Mikaela Shiffrin is the new all-time winningest slalom skier – and the proud owner of a fourth reindeer.
In winning the world cup slalom opener on Saturday in Levi, Finland, Shiffrin broke the record held for nearly 33 years by Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark with her 41st victory in alpine skiing’s most technical event. She also became the first skier to win four world cup races in Levi, breaking a tie with German Maria Höfl-Riesch and Austrian Marcel Hirscher.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist notched her first world cup victory of the season in her preferred event. She descended the Levi Black course in 58.78 seconds during her first run to trail Slovakian rival Petra Vlhova by 0.13 seconds. Unruffled, Shiffrin stayed consistent on her second run to finish in 58.79 for a total time of 1:57.57.
Vlhova, skiing in pole position with the chance to capture her fifth world cup slalom win since 2017, did not finish her second run. Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener was second, 1.78 seconds back, with Austria’s Katharina Truppe third.
Shiffrin has been so dominant in slalom that it’s been nearly two years since she finished lower than first or second in any race she’s entered. The 24-year-old has now won four world cup slalom races in a row, and she also claimed her fourth consecutive slalom world championship title and sixth world cup slalom crystal globe last March.
Shiffrin’s win in Levi also marks world cup title number 61, edging her one closer to the overall record held by Stenmark, who has 86, as well as the women’s record of 82, which belongs to the recently retired Lindsey Vonn. Shiffrin won 17 of the 26 world cup races she entered last year, becoming the only skier ever to notch so many victories in a single season.
In her season debut three weeks ago in Soelden, Austria, Shiffrin finished second to 17-year-old New Zealander Alice Robinson in her first giant slalom of the season. In Levi, the prophecy was different.
“Looks like Santa gave me bib no. 1,” she tweeted Friday, posing with her racing bib in a wintry setting next to a Finnish Kris Kringle.
In lieu of trophies, Levi World Cup champions are given reindeer, which are housed and cared for year-round in Lapland. Shiffrin already has three, named Rudolph, Sven and Mr. Gru, from her victories in 2013, 2016 and 2018. Christmas, complete with a reindeer and a win, has indeed come early for the alpine superstar.