Queen of the slopes: Shiffrin earns women's record 83rd World Cup alpine victory

American skier Mikaela Shiffrin won a record 83rd World Cup race Tuesday. Her giant slalom victory broke a tie on the all-time women's list with former teammate Lindsey Vonn, who retired four years ago when injuries cut her career short.

American skier 3 wins shy of matching Ingemar Stenmark's overall mark

Woman skis down an Italian mountain during the women's giant slalom event on Tuesday.
Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States won her record 83rd alpine World Cup race on Tuesday, defeating Lara Gut-Behrami by 45-100ths of a second in Italy. She's three victories shy of matching Ingemar Stenmark's overall mark — between men and women. (Alain Grosclaude/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

Exhaustion. Relief. Satisfaction.

American skier Mikaela Shiffrin felt all that and more after winning a record 83rd World Cup race Tuesday in Italy.

Shiffrin's giant slalom victory broke a tie on the all-time women's list with former teammate Lindsey Vonn, who retired four years ago when injuries cut her career short.

"I don't think there are words to explain all the feelings," Shiffrin said. "In the end of it, it's like there's too much excitement to feel. I don't know if that makes sense. So it's something you can't explain. So I just try to breathe a bit and enjoy it."

Shiffrin now needs only three more wins to match Ingemar Stenmark's overall mark — between men and women — of 86 victories. Stenmark competed in the 1970s and 80s.

Shiffrin led from start to finish at the Kronplatz resort in the Italian Dolomites, posting a two-run time of 2:00.61, 45-100ths of a second ahead of world champion Lara Gut-Behrami (2:01.06) and 1.43 ahead of home favourite and former overall champion Federica Brignone (2:02.04).

WATCH | Shiffrin breaks women's World Cup record with 83rd win:

Mikaela Shiffrin breaks women's Alpine World Cup win record with her 83rd victory

5 days ago
Duration 3:59
Mikaela Shiffrin broke a tie on the all-time women's list with former American teammate Lindsey Vonn, by winning the women's giant slalom World Cup race at the ski resort in Kronplatz, in San Vigilio, Italy.

Shiffrin posted the fastest first run and was therefore the last skier to race in the second run.

"I was a bit nervous for the second run, but mostly, I hate waiting," Shiffrin said. "Finally, when it was time to go, then it was like everything went quiet, and I just pushed as hard as I could every turn. It was pretty amazing to come through the finish and see that I was quite fast.

"Because I could hear that the other athletes were skiing well. I thought, 'I could lose this, so I better try to ski a really good run.' And it was."

WATCH | Shiffrin cements legacy with historic run: 

Mikaela Shiffrin is the GOAT of women's World Cup alpine skiing

5 days ago
Duration 0:42
American skier Mikaela Shiffrin won her 83rd World Cup alpine race, breaking Lindsey Vonn's female record, and is now chasing Ingemar Stenmark for the overall record of 86.

No tears in Slovenia

Shiffrin seemed exhausted and relieved immediately after finishing, bending over and resting her head on her poles and then biting her lips before going over to embrace Gut-Behrami and Brignone.

Brignone told Shiffrin, "Congrats," and Shiffrin responded, "Oh my god."

Unlike when she broke down into tears when she matched Vonn's record of 82 wins earlier this month in Kranjska Gora, Shiffrin kept her composure during the playing of her national anthem, singing along to the words.

Then a gold-coloured crown was placed atop her head.

It was Shiffrin's ninth win of the season.

What's more is that Shiffrin is still only 27. Vonn was 33 when she won her last World Cup event and Stenmark was 32.

"I just feel so lucky to be her teammate in this era and watching her break history every day," said Nina O'Brien, the only other American finisher in 18th. "And she's been really supportive as well."

That's a pretty good image for the sport, for women's alpine skiers. ... It's an inspiration for us to keep pushing.— 2-time world champ Tessa Worley on Shiffrin setting women's wins record

"To be able to do it at such a young age is really impressive," Vonn said earlier this month. "I don't think Mikaela should vary too much from her current approach. Not racing more speed events has done her well because she's been able to stay injury free. Her plans are working pretty well. So I would probably just stick to what she's been doing."

The record comes a year after Shiffrin didn't win a medal in six events at the Beijing Olympics after entering amid big expectations. She didn't take long to rebound from her Beijing performance, claiming her fourth overall World Cup title at the end of last season.

Canada's Valérie Grenier, who won giant slalom gold for the first time on Jan. 7 and prevented Shiffrin from setting the record that day in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, placed ninth on Tuesday in 2:02.97 after sitting fourth following the opening run.

'She's still doing amazing things'

Now she's the most successful female skier of all time.

"That's a pretty good image for the sport, for women's alpine skiers," said Tessa Worley, a two-time world champion in GS. "And she's still doing amazing things. So it's an inspiration for us to just go and keep pushing."

"If anyone is to break my record, I'm really happy that it's an American," Vonn said. "There were a lot of women who paved the way for me. And now it's her turn to pave the way for the next generation.

"It's pretty impressive that the top two female skiers of all time are Americans in a sport historically dominated by Europeans. We're 20 wins ahead (21 for Shiffrin with Tuesday's victory) of the next woman (Annemarie Moser-Pröll of Austria with 62 wins), which is a substantial margin. So it's not even really close. It just speaks for our country as a whole and what we're capable of doing."

Shiffrin had to learn how to handle the nerves that come with leading the first run.

"It's still hard for me to believe that, apparently, I have the mental focus again to be strong again in the second run," she said. "That's something I don't take for granted."

Shiffrin started her second run immediately after Gut-Behrami had taken the lead by a large margin.

"I saw her from the start and then I was thinking, 'Why did I watch? I can't go that fast.' So, then I was a little bit, kind of wild on some spots but it felt so clean," Shiffrin said. "I thought I wouldn't be faster but I thought I could maybe be close. And then, somehow, I got there to the finish and it was quite good."

Shiffrin can quickly add to her record total in another giant slalom at Kronplatz on Wednesday. Then she has two slaloms — her best event, having accounted for 51 of her 83 victories — in Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic, next weekend. That was where Shiffrin made her World Cup debut as a 15-year-old in March 2011.

After a short break, Shiffrin will then again be a multi-medal threat at the world championships in Courchevel and Meribel, France, which start on Feb. 6.

Cassidy Gray of Invermere, B.C., was 49th of 53 finishers in the first run and didn't advance while teammate Britt Richardson of Canmore, Alta., didn't finish her run.

WATCH | Grenier cracks top 10 in Kronplatz:

Ontario's Valérie Grenier skis to 9th place finish in Kronplatz

5 days ago
Duration 1:47
Valérie Grenier of St-Isidore, Ont., finished ninth in the World Cup women's giant slalom race at the Kronplatz ski resort in San Vigilio, Italy on Tuesday.

With files from CBC Sports

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