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Shiffrin ends ‘wild season’ with slalom World Cup win No.60

Mar 16, 2024·Alpine Skiing
Shiffrin has 97 World Cup wins and eight slalom Crystal Globes to her name so far
Shiffrin has 97 World Cup wins and eight slalom Crystal Globes to her name so far

Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) ended her 13th Audi FIS World Cup season in customary style at the Finals in Saalbach, Austria, powering to victory for the 60th time in the women’s slalom.

Minutes after finishing in a combined time of one minute 53.22 seconds the American superstar, who is now just three short of a stupendous 100 career World Cup wins, declared she is not ready for summer.

“I am probably the most excited one to be here, everyone is like ‘I want to be home’ and I am like ‘No, we just started again’,” laughed Shiffrin who only returned to racing last weekend after more than six weeks out injured.

The enforced break certainly has not done her skiing any harm. After winning in Are, Sweden seven days ago, the recently turned 29-year-old defied tough visibility and soft, wet snow in Austria to finish more than half-a-second clear of Mina Fuerst Holtmann (NOR), with first run-leader Anna Swenn Larsson (SWE) sliding to third.

“It’s been a wild season. I am really happy to be sitting here and happy for the final race of the season to go so well,” Shiffrin added.

Having declared she will not race in Sunday’s giant slalom or indeed next weekend’s final speed races, Shiffrin ends the season with seven slalom wins (out of 10 starts) plus downhill and GS victories. Enough to leave her second in the race for the overall Crystal Globe and with her eighth slalom Crystal Globe already pocketed.

It is no wonder she wishes it was October already.

“I am excited to see Alex and for some things to come in the next weeks and over the summer. I am excited to go home, I was not home since October 1st, so really excited to go home but I don’t want the season to be over,” she said before reflecting on what the season has taught her.

“There is always something from every season and this one taught me a lot about patience, trust, a lot about trust. A lot about communication and learning how to manage pain and still ski. Those are really important things that I hope will be useful for the rest of my career.”

Holtmann is another heading to the beach dreaming of more snow. Eighth after the first run, the 28-year-old produced one of her best runs of her career to catapult into second and prove to herself that a new approach is working.

“First of all, I really love these conditions, so I am lucky with that (but) I was just focusing on what to do and I was being really, really strict with myself and that’s working,” the Norwegian said.

“Because I am usually losing my head and doing too much (but) now it’s like ‘just stay with the task’ and it worked.

“It’s a huge relief for me and the whole team.”

Mina Fuerst Holtmann skiing slalom in Saalbach
Mina Fuerst Holtmann secures her best result of the season

It is comfortably the best result of the season for Holtmann, whose only other slalom podium came more than two years ago.

Swenn Larsson is far more used to such dizzy heights and the Swedish veteran admitted to some disappointment at having failed to turn a stellar first run into an even higher finish.

“I am not happy with my second run. I know that I could have been battling with Mikaela (Shiffrin) today and it’s a shame that I didn’t,” said the 32-year-old who bled time throughout the heavily rutted lower section.

But a third podium in her final four races – a stretch that included her first ever solo slalom victory – after struggling with injury during the mid-part of the season has given the veteran plenty of fire for what’s to come.

“It was really tough times there and I was thinking should I continue or should I stop the season. I am really happy that I didn’t, that I fought back and my body started working really well again,” she said.

“Now I will train even harder to be fighting at the top next year.”

Neja Dvornik (SLO) will be dreaming of joining her next season. After career best finishes of 10th and then ninth in January and February respectively, the Slovenian produced the run of the afternoon to jump from 21st at the halfway stage to end fourth overall.

But the final word of the slalom season goes to Lena Duerr (GER). The German knew all she had to do to leapfrog the injured Petra Vlhova (SVK) and secure a best-ever finish of second in the season-long standings was end in the top 15 in Saalbach.

After a perhaps understandably nervy display, the 32-year-old finished 15th, three points clear of the Slovakian.

Check out all the results here.