'Awesome' Shiffrin breaks ski record with 87th World Cup win
Mikaela Shiffrin became the most successful racer in the history of World Cup skiing as she won for the 87th time with victory in the slalom at Are on Saturday.
"It's pretty hard to comprehend that thought," said Shiffrin after sealing the victory that lifts her ahead of the legendary Swede Ingemar Stenmark whose record of 86 victories she equalled 24 hours earlier by winning the giant slalom at the same venue.
"My brother and sister-in-law got here. I didn't know they were coming so that makes it so special," said Shiffrin.
Two days shy of her 28th birthday, the American finished 0.92 seconds ahead of second-placed Wendy Holdener to secure her 13th World Cup win of the season at the Swedish ski station where, fittingly, she had opened her World Cup account back in 2012 as a 17-year-old.
Are also happens to be Stenmark's own home turf.
"She is so impressive, she's awesome," Stenmark told AFP by telephone on Saturday.
"It's great for her, fantastic. And especially since she beat the record in Are where she won her first World Cup race."
After a blistering opening run, she led Sweden's Anna Swenn Larsson by 0.69 seconds at the halfway stage with Holdener of Switzerland third at 0.94sec.
Another Swede Cornelia Oehland was quickest on the second run but Shiffrin had enough of a cushion to ease to a convincing and comfortable record-breaking victory.
"The best feeling is to ski on the second run when... you have a lead," said Shiffrin.
"You have to be smart but also I just wanted to be fast too. And ski the second run like its own race, and I did it exactly how I wanted and that's amazing."
Shiffrin secured her fifth overall crystal globe last weekend.
- Decade of brilliance -
By a quirky coincidence, Saturday's record-breaking win comes 12 years to the day after Shiffrin, two days short of her 16th birthday, made her World Cup debut in the giant slalom at Spindleruv Mlyn in the Czech Republic.
Since then she has clocked up 87 wins from 245 starts.
Like Shiffrin, Stenmark relished the slalom and giant slalom with the Swede dominating the two disciplines from 1975 before retiring in 1989.
But while the Swede won all his World Cups in slalom and giant slalom, Shiffrin has developed into a skier for all disciplines with her World Cup haul comprising 53 wins in slalom, 20 in giant slalom, five in super-G, three in downhill, five in parallel slalom and one combined.
Shiffrin arrived at Are on the back of the world championships in France where she won gold in the giant slalom and silver in both the super-G and slalom.
She is also a two-time Olympic gold medallist despite failing to make the podium at all last year in Beijing.