ZAGREB, Croatia — She’s not quite unbeatable but she’s not far off.
Mikaela Shiffrin confirmed her status as one of the most dominant sports stars on the planet with a ninth World Cup win of the season in Zagreb, Croatia Saturday.
The 23-year-old’s fifth slalom win of the season and seventh victory in her last nine races took her overall tally to 52, three shy of Switzerland’s Vreni Schneider in third on the women’s all-time list.
Lindsey Vonn leads with 82 World Cup victories but has yet to start what she says will be her farewell season because of injury.
Shiffrin’s last win on December 29 in Semmering, Austria gave her a record of 15 victories in a calendar year. It was also her 36th slalom victory, taking her past Austrian great Marlies Schild as the most successful women’s slalom skier of all time.
She can equal the record of eight consecutive slalom victories, held by Schneider and Croatia’s Janica Kostelic, in Tuesday’s night slalom in Flachau, Austria.
“To be at this level and always pushing to be faster and stay at the top, for sure it is difficult to keep that form or to even get better,” she said.
“Everybody on my team does a really good job to help me focus again, to push harder, to be more motivated. I am not up there alone.”
In Zagreb, she avenged last week’s parallel slalom defeat by Petra Vlhova in Oslo with a 1.25-second win over the Slovak in the traditional slalom.
The American was the only racer to dip under a minute on the first run to lead Swiss Wendy Holdener by 1.15 secs before coming second quickest behind Vlhova on run two under the floodlights to triumph.
“It’s a great atmosphere and a great track, perfect to be aggressive,” said Shiffrin, who won the first of a record-equaling four Zagreb Snow Queen crowns at 17 in 2013.
“I get a good feeling and I just try to go with that.”
Shiffrin holds a commanding lead over Vlhova in the season standings as she chases a third straight World Cup overall crown.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist will be the hot favorite to clinch a fourth straight slalom world title at the World Championships in Are, Sweden, next month.