Shiffrin bids for unprecedented fifth world slalom title

Luke PHILLIPS
·3-min read

American Mikaela Shiffrin will attempt to write her name in the history books when she takes to the piste for the world women's slalom on Saturday.

The 25-year-old is the four-time defending champion in the discipline, the most technical of the six alpine skiing events.

"I'm looking forward to it," Shiffrin, also Olympic champion at the Sochi Games in 2014, said of defending her slalom title.

"I've just got to get a little bit of recovery before that and then go for it one more time at these world champs."

Shiffrin's treble medal haul in the Italian Dolomites -- combined gold, giant slalom silver and super-G bronze -- has taken her haul to 10 world medals, including six golds. Both are new US records, seeing her past Lindsey Vonn and Ted Ligety respectively.

Only Christl Cranz (12), Marielle Goitschel (7), Anja Paerson (7), Marcel Hirscher (7) and Toni Sailer (7) have won more world gold medals than Shiffrin.

After a tormentous year marked by the sudden death of her father Jeff and a season itself cut short by the Covid-19 pandemic, the American has rebounded from more than 300 days away from the piste in the best possible fashion.

"My biggest goal for the rest of the time is to keep that (carefree attitude) going," insisted a visibly more relaxed Shiffrin, winner of the last World Cup slalom, in Flachau last month.

- Vlhova focused -

Slovakia's Petra Vlhova, the overall World Cup leader, has had a mixed bag in Cortina, but will no doubt pose a threat on Saturday.

She won silver behind Shiffrin in the alpine combined, but failed to qualify for the parallel event and could only finish 12th in the giant slalom.

"Of course, if you have a medal then you are a little bit quiet and you can focus for the next races," said Vlhova, who won slalom bronze at the Are worlds two years ago.

"But even if I didn't take a medal I continue!"

Austrian Katharina Liensberger has been one of the surprise packages in Cortina, winning joint parallel giant slalom gold and bronze in the giant slalom proper.

"At the moment I can't think about anything else," Liensberger said of her medal tally.

"I'm super happy and everything is coming together at the right time.

"I am so thankful for my team and for everyone who helped me, especially with giant slalom, to work for it."

Swiss hopes will ride on Wendy Holdener, a two-time former world combined champion and slalom silver medallist behind Shiffrin in St Moritz in 2017, and combined bronze medal winner Michelle Gisin, the latter sitting second in the World Cup slalom standings behind Vlhova.

Gisin was left in tears after her 11th-placed finish in the giant slalom, but remained confident with her skiing.

"It's the way it is, I can't change it and now I have to look ahead," the Swiss racer said.

"The good thing is that I ski well and therefore it's easier to accept mistakes."

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