Mikaela Shiffrin three-peats in world championships slalom
With the largest margin of victory in 47 years, Mikaela Shiffrin became the first woman in 78 years to win three straight world titles in the slalom.
The 21-year-old boosted her bid next year to become the first skier of either gender to repeat as Olympic slalom champion.
Shiffrin prevailed by a monstrous 1.64 seconds combining two runs over Swiss Wendy Holdener in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Saturday. Swede Frida Hansdotter earned bronze.
Shiffrin doubled over in disbelief looking toward the scoreboard after crossing the finish line, jaw agape, before covering her mouth with her glove. Then she turned toward the crowd and screamed while raising her arms three times.
“I didn’t see my time until I got all the way through and I knew I had a good run, but I didn’t know it was that good until I saw the time,” Shiffrin said, according to the International Ski Federation. “Three [gold] medals is great, but today is really special today for me because I finally skied this the way I wanted to, and that’s what means a lot to me today.”
The 1.64-second margin was the largest in any women’s event at worlds since 1970, according to ski-db.com.
“Oh my god,” were Shiffrin’s first words picked up by finish-area microphones, before she congratulated Holdener on her super combined title the previous week.
She had the fastest first run by .38 and the fastest second run by .85.
“There was no beating Mikaela today,” Holdener said.
NBC will air women’s slalom coverage Saturday at 1 p.m. ET. The world championships conclude with the men’s slalom Sunday (3:45 and 7 a.m. ET, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).
The only other skiers to earn three world titles in the slalom were Swede Ingemar Stenmark (1978-82, with one of those doubling as the Olympics) and German Christel Cranz, who earned five crowns from 1934 through 1939.
Earlier at worlds, Shiffrin earned her first major giant slalom medal, a silver behind Frenchwoman Tessa Worley on Thursday.
Shiffrin only entered those two events in St. Moritz, but she could race all five individual events at the PyeongChang Olympics. Three years ago, Shiffrin memorably (regrettably) blurted out in an early-morning, dreary-eyed press conference after winning her Olympic slalom title that she dreamed of winning five gold medals in 2018.
She has since slowly picked up the speed events of super-G and downhill. Shiffrin was fourth in her most recent World Cup super-G, but has only raced two World Cup downhills with a best finish of 13th.
She will return to the World Cup circuit next week, en route to becoming the third U.S. woman to claim the overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing. Tamara McKinney and Lindsey Vonn are the others,
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