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Mikaela Shiffrin wins, ties World Cup season titles record in first race in six weeks

Mikaela Shiffrin earned her 96th World Cup win and clinched an eighth World Cup slalom season title, tying the record number of titles for one discipline, in her first race since spraining leg ligaments in a Jan. 26 downhill crash.

Shiffrin, who turns 29 on Wednesday, won a slalom by 1.24 seconds in Åre, Sweden, the site of her first World Cup win at age 17 in 2012 and her record-breaking 87th World Cup win last March.

“It’s just been so important to me to race again this season with good skiing before the season is over just to finish it off with something positive so I can start next season in a better place, too,” Shiffrin told Swiss broadcaster SRF. “But it’s been so uncertain. It just feels a little bit like we’re in a dream.”

There is one slalom left this season, but Shiffrin’s gap over her closest pursuer, German Lena Dürr, is insurmountable.

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Shiffrin’s primary slalom rival, Olympic gold medalist Petra Vlhova of Slovakia, sustained a season-ending knee injury in a Jan. 20 race crash.

Shiffrin’s eighth slalom season title ties the Alpine World Cup record for one discipline shared by Lindsey Vonn (downhill) and Swede Ingemar Stenmark (giant slalom and slalom).

“Slalom’s been there for me my whole career,” Shiffrin told Austrian broadcaster ORF. “It’s like coming home.”

Austrian Marcel Hirscher won eight titles in the overall, which combines results from all disciplines each season.

Last season, Shiffrin passed Vonn and Stenmark for the most career Alpine World Cup wins. With eight victories this season, she is up to 96.

Shiffrin is expected to race one or two more times this season at next weekend’s World Cup Finals in Saalbach, Austria, which air live on Peacock. She plans to contest Saturday’s slalom and may enter Sunday’s giant slalom.

Before this Sunday’s return, Shiffrin missed the last 11 races in the 39-race season, including one slalom, after the Jan. 26 crash.

“I’m lucky to be able to race again this season, and I’m really soaking it in,” Shiffrin said after her first of two runs. “My knee, it’s holding up. It’s doing good work for me.

“When I feel the knee, it doesn’t distract me from skiing.”

She had a lack of training going into Sunday’s race — four normal slalom sessions since returning to snow. That led her to skip Saturday’s giant slalom.

“It’s a little bit overwhelming (to be back), even, because the last six weeks I’ve been spending most of my time around about three people,” Shiffrin said as she smiled and laughed. “We can be quiet. We can really kind of have some peaceful time, and then just a lot of rehab work. So coming back with a lot more people around, I’m trying to remember how to be social.”

How to watch Mikaela Shiffrin on the 2023-24 Alpine skiing World Cup on Peacock and NBC Sports.