Mikaela Shiffrin wins Alpine worlds giant slalom, ties gold medals record
Mikaela Shiffrin won her first giant slalom world title to become the most decorated skier in modern world Alpine skiing championships history with 13 medals, including seven golds.
Shiffrin, racing two days after parting with her coach of seven years, prevailed by 12 hundredths of a second over Italian Federica Brignone, combining times from two runs on Thursday. Norwegian Ragnhild Mowinckel earned bronze in Meribel, France.
Shiffrin led by 36 hundredths at the last intermediate split, but a late slip between gates had her questioning whether she would hold onto the lead.
“My whole body went numb down there. ... So much stress,” she said on France TV, adding later that she felt “a bit lucky” to hold on for the victory. “I thought that maybe you just threw everything away, or maybe you’re going to go harder now.
“I don’t even know how to explain it, but my heart is just going crazy. I feel like I’m going to faint.”
Shiffrin had the fastest first run by 12 hundredths over Frenchwoman Tessa Worley, who skied out of her second run.
Shiffrin broke her tie with Kjetil Andre Aamodt, a Norwegian standout of the 1990s and 2000s, for the most individual world championships medals since World War II.
Shiffrin also tied the modern record for individual gold medals with Austrian Toni Sailer (1950s), Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel (1960s) and Swede Anja Pärson (2000s).
In the 1930s, German Christl Cranz won 15 medals and 12 golds when worlds were held annually with three events and fewer skiers (the International Ski Federation lists the top six finishers per race from that era). Worlds are now biennial with six individual events, including four that Shiffrin contests.
Shiffrin, 27, has 13 medals in 16 career individual world championships races dating to 2013. She won silver or bronze in the GS at the previous three worlds in 2017, 2019 and 2021.
“I don’t know if I can really put a value on any medal, but today felt very special,” she said. “It’s a moment I’m going to remember forever.”
Most of Shiffrin’s major titles, plus the toughest times of her career in recent years, came with Mike Day as her head coach. Shiffrin announced late Tuesday that Day was no longer part of her coaching team. Her plan was to make the change after the season ends in March, but Day decided to leave during worlds after being informed of the decision, Shiffrin’s publicist said.
Shiffrin, whose reason for the change was to have “new leadership on my team for the next phase of my career,” said she was stressed by the situation.
“One thing I really want to say is just thank you to Mike for seven years of, I can’t even say [only] helping me; he’s been such an integral part of my team and being there to support me through some of the most incredible moments in my career and some of the most challenging moments in my career and also my life,” she said. “He’s been there to support me through it all. So it’s just a little bit sad how it came down. I think everybody wonders about the timing. It was never the intention to make an official announcement during world championships. But the way things have conspired, that’s how it happened, and I hope to give him the time and the notice through until the end of the season to figure out his own plan and prepare himself for his own next steps.
“It’s been difficult for all of us to imagine this after so long being such a tight group, really, really a family. That’s difficult. But in the end, we have to focus, and we have to move forward. I’m looking forward to the next opportunities, and I’m really proud of the performance today.”
Shiffrin has one event left at these worlds, the slalom on Saturday.
“In a way the pressure is off, and the most important thing for me is to try to enjoy the last event of this world championships and enjoy my skiing because it feels really quite good,” she said.
As she has throughout the two-week worlds, Shiffrin dismissed drawing parallels to last year’s Olympics, where she skied out of three of her five individual events and had a best individual finish of ninth.
On Thursday, she won an Olympics or world championships event for the first time in her last 10 starts.
“I wouldn’t say revenge [from the Olympics],” she said. “It’s so easy to see the similarities between Olympics, world championships and last year to now, but there’s no real correlation except that the big events you want to make it work in that moment. Today, I really saw myself losing it.”
Worlds continue Friday with the men’s giant slalom, live on Peacock.
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