Alpine sensation Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) made history during the 2018-19 season for many reasons, but perhaps none is more telling than becoming the first-ever skier, male or female, to top the one-million mark in prize money.
Shiffrin earned 886,386 Swiss Francs (CHF) for her incredible World Cup season, which saw her grab the most victories in a single season that numbered 17. Added to that amount is Shffirin’s haul at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships last February in Are (SWE), that included gold in super-G and slalom, and bronze in giant slalom, which gave her an additional 114,000 CHF in prize money, allowing her to crack the one-million Swiss Franc mark with 1,000,386 CHF for the season.
The next closest female skier was Petra Vlhova (SVK) with 428,195 CHF.
But it’s not just on the ladies’ tour that Shiffrin earned bragging rights, she was also the top earner in both genders as she easily bested eight-time Crystal Globe winner Marcel Hirscher, who earned 565,111 CHF during the last season. It is the second season that Shiffrin was the top earner on both the men’s and ladies’ tour, although in 2017-18 it was a much closer run contest with 43,000 CHF that separated her from Hirscher.
“It’s a really cool opportunity. I’m extremely proud to be part of a sport where there is no gender pay gap,” said Shiffrin. “It’s great, because perhaps it will inspire future generations to take part in this sport that I love so much. From my perspective, equal prize money means there is a demand by the public for both men’s and women’s alpine ski racing. If people want to watch and the sport has fans, that’s ultimately where the money comes from. I feel like we, as athletes, have a responsibility to bring attention to this sport – to make it exciting to watch and bring edgy and fun personalities into it. Just like any sport, ski racing needs these personalities and a high level of competition in order to thrive, and I’m thankful to the fans for following along.”
The same prize money has always applied on the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup tour. Traditionally, the men and ladies also have approximately the same number of races per season, giving Shiffrin, and her female competitors the chance to out-earn the males. World Cup Organisers typically pay 45,000 CHF for a victory, with prize money going down to 30thplace with 500 CHF.
“The International Ski Federation is kind of leading the charge and has a long history of paying females and males the same prize money on the tour,” Shiffrin noted. “This has not necessarily been the case for other sports…I know the U.S. women’s national soccer team fought hard for equal pay, and recently earned that. Similarly, kudos to the female surfers who won the pay equity fight last fall with the World Surf League.”
As one of the few remaining multiple-discipline skiers on the circuit, Shiffrin became the first athlete to win in all six currently contested FIS disciplines after her career-first super-G victory in Lake Louise, Canada in December of 2018 which sealed the full collection..At the age of 24, Shiffrin has the potential to break even more records in the upcoming season. She has already topped the 60-win mark and now that she is consistently on the podium in both speed and technical events, there’s no telling just what other records she will set in the future.