Shiffrin leads in giant slalom, set to get 4th WCup trophy
SOLDEU, Andorra (AP) — Another race won, another crystal trophy earned, another World Cup record written by Mikaela Shiffrin in her historically great season.
Shiffrin won a giant slalom Sunday to seal the season-long standings title and, shedding a few tears while sitting in the finish area, lifted a record-tying fourth World Cup crystal globe in the same season.
“There were many moments in the last eight years where I was thinking maybe I would never get this GS globe,” Shiffrin said, explaining her emotions. “I wanted to be proud of my skiing and really deserve that.”
A fourth discipline title in one season matched the women’s World Cup record jointly held by Lindsey Vonn (2010, 2012) and Tina Maze (2013).
Shiffrin’s 17th World Cup race win this season also extended her own record for men and women. At age 24, her 60 career wins trails only 26 behind Ingemar Stenmark’s all-time total.
The American star needed only a top-15 finish on a sun-soaked day in Andorra to ensure closest challenger Petra Vlhova could not overhaul her points total.
Instead, Olympic giant slalom champion Shiffrin retained her first-run lead in style to finish 0.30 seconds ahead of 17-year-old Alice Robinson. Vlhova was third, 0.41 back.
Standing next to the undisputed current star of women’s Alpine skiing, a bright future was seen Sunday for Robinson. The New Zealand prospect earned her World Cup finals entry by winning the giant slalom at the junior world championships last month.
“Alice skied amazing today, she was attacking both runs,” Shiffrin said of the runner-up who got her first points-scoring top-30 finish only one week earlier.
Robinson’s first World Cup podium arrives at an age just six months older than Shiffrin was getting her first top-3 finish, in a December 2011 slalom.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Robinson told Swiss broadcaster RTS. “It’s crazy, so cool to share the first podium with Petra and Mikaela. They’re such great skiers.”
Shiffrin’s four crystal globes tops the three earned by the men’s standout Marcel Hirscher.
Hirscher already clinched the slalom title, and a record-extending eighth straight overall title, before the final race Sunday.
Seeming fatigued by a long season, Hirscher finished 14th, trailing 1.62 behind the winner Clement Noel in what could be his last World Cup race.
The 30-year-old Hirscher said Saturday after placing sixth in giant slalom that he could spend next season with his young family “cooking and holding the baby.”
“I’m thinking about this every day,” Hirscher said of possibly retiring, acknowledging he has a “very hard decision” in the next two weeks.
Noel barely retained his first-run lead on fast-softening snow, posting the 20th-fastest second-leg time to be 0.18 ahead of Manuel Feller.
The 21-year-old Frenchman, who won his third slalom in a breakout season, wants Hirscher to be back next season.
“If he retires it will be really sad for Alpine skiing,” Noel said. “We want to challenge with champions. Marcel is the best. It’s always a pleasure.”
Daniel Yule was third, trailing Noel by 0.83, to earn $5,000 for a non-profit agency campaigning against climate change.
Yule pledged half his prize money from the final two slalom races of the season as a riposte to comments last month questioning climate change by the International Ski Federation president, Gian Franco Kasper.
Yule was also fifth the previous Sunday, earning an initial $2,500 for the Swiss branch of Colorado-based Protect Our Winters .
The World Cup finals meeting typically celebrates retiring veterans.
Olympic slalom champion Frida Hansdotter wore Swedish traditional dress for a ceremonial last run in the giant slalom, and Felix Neureuther raced more competitively to place seventh in slalom.
Neureuther, who has 13 career World Cup race wins, was doused with champagne and snow in the finish area by his Germany teammates.