Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates after competing in the women's downhill competition at FIS Alpine Ski World Cup on March 16, 2022 in Courchevel, France.
Mikaela Shiffrin’s quest for a fourth world cup overall title got quite the boost Wednesday when she opened the World Cup Final with a rare win in the women’s downhill.
Shiffrin, who entered the World Cup Final with a narrow lead in the standings over Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, completed the Courchevel, France, course in 1 minute 27.00 seconds, holding off Austria’s Christine Scheyer and Switzerland’s Joana Haehlen, who tied for second, by .10.
The win was Shiffrin’s 74th on the world cup circuit but only her third ever in the downhill, and her first since 2020. With 100 points for the victory she now leads Vlhova, the defending champ who failed to record points Wednesday, by 156 points with three races remaining.
Following this weekend’s races in Courchevel and Meribel, France, crystal globe trophies will be awarded to the season champs for each of the individual racing disciplines as well as the overall champion. A fourth world cup overall title would tie Shiffrin with fellow American Lindsey Vonn for second all-time among women.
Only two skiers in history have recorded more world cup wins than Shiffrin. She is at her best in the technical events of slalom and giant slalom, and her 47 slalom wins are the most of any skier in a single event. However, the 27-year-old has shown she can be competitive across the board and is the only skier — male or female — to have wins in all six alpine disciplines.
Vlhova, meanwhile, also thrives in the technical events and recently won the Olympic gold medal in slalom in Beijing.
That meant Shiffrin’s roadmap to another overall title likely required a strong performance in the speed events this week. She’s now halfway there, and with another good showing in the other speed event, Thursday’s super-G, Shiffrin has the potential to lock up the overall title ahead of the weekend’s technical races.
Shiffrin has been on a tear since a difficult Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, where she fell short of the medals podium on all six events that she competed in. Since then, she’s raced five times and finished among the top four in all but one of those races. Among those races was a super-G on March 5, where Shiffrin finished second.