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Mikaela Shiffrin breaks Stenmark’s record on Saturday

Mikaela Shiffrin collected her 90 wins from 254 starts on the World Cup since her 2011 debut on the circuit two days before her 16th birthday.
Alessandro Trovati
Mikaela Shiffrin collected her 90 wins from 254 starts on the World Cup since her 2011 debut on the circuit two days before her 16th birthday.

At just 27, American ski racer Mikaela Shiffrin is now the winningest skier of all time.

For more than 40 years, no one, besides two American women, Lindsay Vonn and now Mikaela Shiffrin, have come close to breaking the record of 86 World Cup wins that Ingemar Stenmark held onto for more than four decades.

On Saturday, Shiffrin did just that in Sweden and the 66-year-old Stenmark told the Associated Press that Shiffrin is a much better ski racer than he ever was. All of Stenmark’s wins in the 1970s and 80s came in the technical disciplines of slalom and giant slalom. Shiffrin’s wins have been spread out in both slalom and the GS but also in the higher-speed and more dangerous events of super-G and downhill. Vonn, who also won races in all disciplines, had won 82 World Cups before she retired in 2019.

Following Shriffin’s historic win in slalom, she said clinching the record at Are, Sweden, was never her goal. Her goal, she said, was to take home the overall globe in giant slalom.

The Swedish race venue she said has been both tumultuous and vibrant in her career. It was where she won her first World Cup in December 2012. It’s also the place where she had her first major injury. She has also won three World Championships medals at Are.

“And some of the most incredible experiences in my life and some of the most painful moments as well,” Shiffrin said. “So, it's just it's pretty incredible mix of feelings to be back here now this weekend, to win my first GS race here secure the goal. That was my biggest goal for this weekend was actually securing the GS globe.”

She said ski racing has always motivated her and she’s been pushed by nervousness, something that’s been there since her first race, long before anyone thought she was going to break a world record. The number, she said, has never been something she’s been focused on.

“It was not my main priority or my main focus this whole time,” Shiffrin said. “And now, having that feeling and the second run today, it just kind of proves that to me and not anyone else, just to me, in my own mind, it's like, well, I guess we'll find out if I've actually been honest with myself this whole time saying that I don't - it's not that I don't care - it's saying that wasn't done in highest priority for me. To get a win yesterday and come out there today, and still race with the same nerves and anticipation, that was one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced.”

At the time of the press conference, Shiffrin had not heard from Ingemar Stenmark but said she hopes to talk to him in a more private setting than the finish area of a race.

But she’s heard from many others, from Kate Winslet to Roger Federer and the world’s number one tennis player, Iga Swiatek.

Stenmark said he believes that Shiffrin, who wins more than a third of the races she competes in, will go on to win more than 100 World Cups in her career.

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