The 87th and Beyond: A Season to Remember for Mikaela Shiffrin
Mikaela Shiffrin has achieved history all season long. Starting on January 24, 2023, when she competed in the giant slalom, her second-best event overall, and won by a margin of 0.45 seconds over the current world champion, Lara Gut-Behrami. This was her 83rd win all time and ninth just this season; cementing herself as the best women’s alpine skier of all time and she’s not done yet. All the way to March 11, 2023, when she broke Ingemar Stenmark’s record from 1986 for all-time World Cup wins with 87. March 11 was already a special day for Shiffrin, marking the 12-year anniversary of her first World Cup race at the age of 15. Over a decade later, she’s the greatest of all time.
Shiffrin has one of the best-winning percentages in not only skiing but in all sports. It took her only 233 races to tie Vonn’s record whereas Vonn took 395 races to even set the record. Shiffrin’s longevity is certainly something that will continue to benefit her in the future as she is only 27 years old and could become the first person to reach 100 World Cup victories, especially at the rate she is going. Shiffrin won her first World Cup victory as a 17-year-old in 2012, now ten years later, we are still blessed with being able to watch her ski at the highest level. The next woman on the all-time list? Annemarie Moser-Pröll of Austria at 62 wins. In a European-dominated sport, for there to be two Americans atop the leaderboards is something to be both amazed by and proud of.
Shiffrin started this World Cup season coming off a very disappointing Olympics, as she crashed out of almost all of her events, competing in six and failing to medal in any of them. She began this World Cup season with 74 wins and finished the season with 88 wins, recording 14 wins this season.
Shiffrin tied Lindsey Vonn’s record of women’s World Cup wins on Sunday, January 8, 2023, as she won her 82nd race in the past ten years. She had a chance to break Vonn’s record shortly after the tie, but illness caught the best of her in between runs on January 10. She still skied well, finishing in second place in the event despite not being in tip-top shape. She raced three more times, all in speed events to try and break the record but with no luck.
Two weeks later, on January 24, she skied the giant slalom, in the same place she began her World Cup skiing career as a 15-year-old, and won by 0.45 seconds, securing her place as the winningest female skier in World Cup history with her 83rd win. Shiffrin’s 84th win came the day after her 83rd, on the same course in another giant slalom run as she won by 0.82 seconds. She moved only one short of the all-time record of 86 World Cup wins as she won again in the slalom on January 28, 2023, at Spindleruv Mlyn, Czechia.
After breaking Vonn’s record, Shiffrin shifted her focus to the 2023 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in France. The World Ski Championships is a biannual event that occurs for two weeks in the middle of the World Cup season. Any wins recorded during those two weeks are separate from World Cup wins. Shiffrin won at least one at each of the last five world championships and no one has gold from six different worlds. During the two weeks of Worlds, she had the opportunity to become the most decorated skier in modern championships history. Additionally, at the beginning of Worlds, Shiffrin was also only one medal shy of Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt’s record for most individual world championships medals since World War II and four shy of the all-time record.
Shiffrin started her 2023 Worlds campaign with an unfortunate disqualification in the slalom portion of the alpine combined. She finished Worlds earning three more medals, giving her 14 World Championships medals in her career, sitting just one away from the all-time record of 15. Shiffrin had her sights set on a gold medal in the Giant Slalom at Worlds this season and she looked poised to win it for the first time in her career heading into Worlds. Having won five of the six giant slaloms in the World Cup cycle leading up to the World Championships, Shiffrin was in great shape but needed to beat the three former world champions in the discipline. She did so stellarly, winning by 0.12 seconds over Federica Brignone of Italy.
Back on the World Cup circuit, Shiffrin equaled Stenmark’s record on March 10, 2023, with a spectacular run beating her opponents by 0.58 seconds. And about the record-equalling run? Shiffrin felt as good as ever, telling TV6 that “It’s one of the few runs in my life where, while I was skiing it, I was thinking, ‘This is good.’” Shiffrin’s 86th win came in her 245th World Cup race, and her fifth attempt to equal Stenmark’s record since winning her 85th in January. And, in a beautiful full-circle moment, Shiffrin tied the record in Are, Sweden, the same place she won her first-ever World Cup race in 2012. With this win in the giant slalom, she clinched the season-long World Cup giant slalom title. She had already clinched her fifth overall World Cup title and slalom title.
Then, just a day later, the moment everyone had been waiting for happened. Mikaela Shiffrin became the winningest alpine skier of all time. Her 87th victory came on the twelfth anniversary of Shiffrin’s World Cup debut as a 15-year-old in the Czech Republic.
Now, as a 27-year-old, Shiffrin is the best skier in history. While wins aren’t everything, Shiffrin preserved through her father’s death, something that she has spoken very openly about as a very hard process for her. She bounced back this World Cup season from a disappointing Beijing 2022 Olympics, where she failed to place. Now, she’s at the top of the world. Shiffrin dominated the first run and continued to build in the second run to secure a victory by nearly a second, exactly 0.92 seconds, over Wendy Holdener of Switzerland. This result marked Shiffrin’s sixth slalom win of the season and her 53rd career slalom victory. Shiffrin’s slalom victories account for 60 percent of her World Cup wins, while the giant slalom accounts for another 24 percent. Shiffrin has 138 podium appearances in 249 starts. Shiffrin’s 88th win in her final race of the season capped off her incredible season as she set the record for most giant slalom World Cup victories with a grand total of 21. She passed Vreni Schneider of Switzerland who previously held the record with 20.
There are so many more stats, numbers, and records that can be brought up when talking about Mikaela Shiffrin, but one final outstanding one is that she is the first and only skier to have won a race in every World Cup discipline (downhill, super-G, slalom, giant slalom, combined, parallel). With six different disciplines, this is no easy feat as the races require different types of skills. This accomplishment shows us just how dominant Shiffrin is on the slopes.
Earlier in April, Shiffrin was named to TIME's 100 Most Influential People list for 2023. A prestigious honor as the magazine recognizes people across the world for their work and success. Shiffrin is more than deserving of this honor and proved it through her success all season long, continuing to prove to the world that she is the greatest skier of all time.