Mikaela Shiffrin extends historic slalom winning streak
Make it three wins in three days for Mikaela Shiffrin, and 15 wins in her last 15 slalom starts. Oh yeah, she’s sick, too.
The world’s hottest skier topped the World Cup field in Semmering, Austria, by .64 of a second over two runs on Thursday. The Sochi Olympic slalom champion followed up giant slalom victories on Tuesday and Wednesday in Semmering.
Slovakian Veronika Velez Zuzulova was second, followed by Swiss Wendy Holdener. Shiffrin led Zuzulova by .09 after the first run but had fallen .33 behind the Slovak in the second before making up nearly a second in the final 20 seconds of the course.
“Every gate I thought I was giving it away, but I was starting to fight,” she said.
Shiffrin had screamed after recent victories, but this time she put her glove to her mouth in apparent disbelief. Shiffrin called Thursday’s win her toughest of the this week’s triple.
“The past races, it’s been mostly nerves when I get to the start, but I don’t know what’s happening and all of a sudden I feel really, really sick,” she said. “Today, actually, I am sick. And the past two days I’ve been sick. So I wasn’t sure if I was sick like I have the flu or if I was sick because of nerves. It was a weird thing today. I was OK for my run, for the second half of my run, so it’s good.”
Shiffrin has now won her last 15 slalom starts, including her last 12 World Cup slalom starts, the longest women’s streak in any World Cup discipline in history. Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell won 11 straight downhills from 1972-74. Shiffrin also bagged a world title and two national titles during her unbeaten run.
A caveat: Shiffrin missed five World Cup slaloms last season due to a knee injury. Since that absence, Shiffrin has won seven straight World Cup slaloms, which is one shy of the consecutive slaloms record shared by Croatian Janica Kostelic and Swiss Vreni Schneider.
Shiffrin can match those legends in the next World Cup race, a slalom in Zagreb on Tuesday (NBCSN and NBCSports.com/live, 10 a.m. ET). Shiffrin won the last two times the Zagreb race was held in 2013 and 2015.
Big picture, Shiffrin boosted her World Cup overall standings lead to 215 points over Swiss Lara Gut through 15 of a scheduled 37 races. She has six wins this season, the most by one skier in a campaign before New Year’s Day since Bode Miller in 2004.
Shiffrin has downplayed talk of going for the overall title -- she even skipped speed races earlier this month -- but she could become the third U.S. woman to take the biggest annual crown in ski racing (Tamara McKinney, Lindsey Vonn).