KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia (AP) – Emotions came pouring in from Michaela Schiffrin When I matched with Lindsey Vonn Women’s Ski World Cup record With her 82nd win on Sunday.
At first there was a shriek of joy after a serious case of nerves that had been building up inside her all day. Then tears came during the American anthem as her thoughts turned to her father, Jeff, who died three years ago.
“My dad used to be there and take pictures. Most of the races these days I’ll think of him and I’m able to kind of refocus,” Shiffrin said. “But when I’m singing the national anthem (it’s different). It was before I won the World Cup for the first time, he said, “You’d better memorize the words of the national anthem, because if you win, you’d better sing it.” And so I always think of him when I’m there.”
Shiffrin led from start to finish to win a giant slalom by a large margin and can now break Vonn’s mark in the night slalom scheduled to be held in Flachau, Austria, on Tuesday.
“I was so nervous this run. I had a rash on my face and I was so nervous,” Shiffrin said. “I don’t know why, maybe it was because of the 82. I just wanted to skate well, and I did.”
Where other skiers were struggling on a dark, bumpy, and unusually steep course, Shiffrin was able to ski smoothly.
“It was a fight. But it was pretty cool conditions, and I got a report from the coaches and they were like, ‘She’s really attackable, so just go for it,’” she said. “I’ve been in this position before and I gave it up and today I wanted to fight for it. “
Already with eight wins this season, Shiffrin is also fast approaching Ingemar Stenmark’s record overall – both men’s and women’s – of 86 victories.
Vonn retired four years ago when injuries ended her pursuit of the Stenmark record.
Vaughn wrote in the Associated Press diary that “if anyone has to break my record, I’m really glad it’s American.”
Shiffrin and Vonn now each have 20 more wins than the next woman on the all-time list, 62-year-old Annemarie Moser-Pröll of Austria.
While the much-injured Vonn required 395 races to achieve her 82 wins, Shiffrin did it in just 233 races. And at the age of 27, Shiffrin could compete for several more years and win many more races.
“I knew from the start she was going to be the one to break all the records,” Vonn wrote. “But to be able to do that at such a young age is really impressive.”
Shiffrin’s achievement comes almost a year after a disappointing performance at the Beijing Olympicswhen she competed in six events without winning a medal.
However, winning this race never seemed to be in doubt.
On an overcast morning, Shiffrin was the top starter and put out a fiercer opening rally than her two rides on Saturday’s steep Podkorin course, when she finished tied for sixth.
“I couldn’t skate any faster,” Shiffrin said after her first run. “I felt much better on this first run than yesterday. I had to try to change my feeling from yesterday. It was a very good skate and I’m happy with that.”
Shiffrin was the last female skater to start the second heat and increased her advantage at each checkpoint to finish 0.77 seconds ahead of Italy’s Federica Brignone and 0.97 ahead of Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami.
“It was almost perfect,” Brignone said. “When you skate like that, you’re unbeatable.”
With only a few American fans in the race near the Italian border, supporters of Slovak competitor Petra Vlhova cheered Shiffrin loudly. A few kids were waving American flags and family members of Paula Multzan, another American figure skater, were wearing American hockey jerseys.
Shiffrin also moved ahead of Moser-Brühl and Tessa Worley of France with her 17th giant slalom win for second on the women’s rally list behind only Verne Schneider, the Swiss skier, who won 20.
New Zealand skier Alice Robinson was the victim of an ugly fall during her second run, smashing face first into the snow, but quickly got up and slid to the bottom.
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