LEVI, Finland– She won a reindeer and named it Ingemar.
Mikaela Shiffrin’s unusual prize was for winning a World Cup slalom race in Levi, Finland Saturday, but as the 41st slalom title of her glittering career it took her past the record of Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark in skiing’s most technical discipline.
The American, who has become the standout star in the sport, said the name she gave to the reindeer — her fourth from Levi — was a tribute to one of the “greatest skiers ever.”
“There were a couple of things to sort out before announcing it. First was to ask for Ingemar’s permission of course,” the 24-year-old American wrote in a series of Twitter posts.
“And now I have this record to my name — a milestone that I never in my wildest dreams thought I would achieve when I was younger — but all I could think was, Ingemar was better. I don’t see it as ‘breaking his record,’ I am just continuing it.
“So even though the idea of naming my reindeer after Ingemar was born from the talk of ‘breaking’ the record, in the end that is not why I chose to do it. It is simply a tribute to one of absolute greatest ski racers to ever lived.
“But I also wanted to take a quiet moment to think about the day and what this race meant to me. The truth is, it did not feel like a record-breaking day for me. It felt like a day. A race day. A wonderful slalom race day, albeit a little foggy.”
Shiffrin’s win in Finland, in the second event of the 2019-2020 season, takes her to a career tally of 61 World Cup victories, one behind Austria’s Annemarie Moser-Proell, who is second on the women’s list behind the 82 of Lindsey Vonn.
American Vonn finally succumbed to the physical toll of a spectacular career and retired last season still four wins short of Stenmark’s overall record, which was set between 1974 and 1989.
Austrian Marcel Hirscher, who also retired in the summer, sits second on the all-time list with 67 wins.
Shiffrin clinched 17 races in a remarkable season last winter to secure a third straight World Cup overall crown.
She also won a third consecutive slalom title and sixth in seven years as she confirmed her status as skiing’s brightest star.