Mikaela Shiffrin extends record run as Marcel Hirscher hints at retirement
ANDORRA LA VELLA, Andorra — She’s ski racing’s undoubted new queen, but Mikaela Shiffrin finished the slalom season in regal fashion with victory in the final race in Andorra.
The 24-year-old clinched her 16th win of a record-breaking season Saturday to take her tally to 59 World Cup titles overall.
The victory was also her 40th slalom win to equal the record of Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark, who heads the all-time list with 86 World Cup wins.
Overall champion Shiffrin, who topped the slalom standings from Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova and Swiss Wendy Holdener, is hot favorite to clinch the giant slalom crystal globe Sunday.
The American has a 97-point lead over Vlhova, with 100 points available to the winner in Andorra.
Shiffrin, who passed Vreni Schneider’s mark of 14 wins in a season earlier this month, could become the first skier — male or female — to win the World Cup title in overall, slalom, giant slalom and the faster super-G discipline in the same season.
She secured a third straight World Cup overall crown earlier this season and first super-G crystal globe to add to a fourth consecutive slalom world title in Sweden last month. She also won super-G gold in Are.
‘Right decision for the future’
On the men’s circuit, Marcel Hirscher is arguably the greatest ski racer there has ever been, but he hinted in Andorra his stellar career could be nearly over.
The Austrian great has sealed an unprecedented eighth World Cup season overall title as well as a sixth giant slalom season crown and fifth in a row.
But the 29-year-old was unimpressed with his lackluster sixth place in the final World Cup giant slalom of the season Saturday.
“If I ski further I have a lot of work to do,” he told Eurosport in the finish area in Soldeu.
“Before I have to have a clear mind and maybe as well I have to make the right decision for the future what are my plans for the upcoming season.”
Hirscher, whose wife Laura gave birth to the couple’s first child last year, has won 67 World Cup races to sit third on the all-time list behind American Lindsey Vonn (82) and Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark (86).
The Austrian star, who has also wrapped up a third straight slalom crown and sixth in total, admitted at last month’s World Championships in Sweden that it could be his last appearance at the biennial event.
The Olympic giant slalom champion won three giant slaloms and was second in two others this season to top the GS standings ahead of Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen and France’s Alexis Pinturault.
Luitz wins doping appeal
Hirscher’s season tally of 10 wins was reduced to nine after the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld Stefan Luitz’s appeal against a doping violation and reinstated the German’s victory in Beaver Creek on December 2.
Luitz was disqualified when he was photographed inhaling oxygen from a mouthpiece between the first and second runs. The International Ski Federation (FIS) ruled it was against anti-doping rules at FIS events. Luitz lodged an appeal on January 29 and it was heard on March 11. The panel ruled that the World Anti-Doping Code prevails over FIS laws.
“FIS fully accepts the decision of CAS and all World Cup records and the World Cup starting list for giant slalom has been adjusted to reflect the decision,” said an FIS statement.
Pinturault won the giant slalom in Andorra to seal second place on the overall season standings and become the most successful French ski racer ever with a 23rd World Cup win, eclipsing compatriot Carole Merle, who retired in 1994.AlertMe