Mikaela Shiffrin Wins Fourth World Cup Overall Title
by Chrös McDougall
Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates her 1st place finish in the women's downhill during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup on March 16, 2022 in Courchevel, France.
In an alpine skiing season that featured both historic highs and crushing lows, Mikaela Shiffrin fought back to secure her fourth world cup overall title on Thursday, and she did so in the most Shiffrin way possible.
Needing to hold off another dominant technical skier, Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, at this week’s World Cup Finals in France, Shiffrin finished the job in the speed events, winning the downhill on Wednesday and taking second in the super-G Thursday to wrap up the season title before the weekend’s technical races.
With her fourth overall title, Shiffrin ties fellow American Lindsey Vonn for second all-time among women, with only Austria’s Annemarie Moser-Proll having won more with six.
Racing under bright blue skies in the French Alps, Shiffrin finished the super-G in 1 minute, 13.73 seconds, just .05 behind winner Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway. Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin was third, coming in at .13 behind Mowinckel.
Coming into this week’s World Cup Finals in Courchevel and Meribel, France, Shiffrin held a 56-point lead over Vlhova. The lead rose to 156 when Shiffrin won the downhill and Vlhova missed the points. Shiffrin gained 80 more points to Vlhova’s none on Thursday, giving the American an insurmountable 236-point lead before the weekend’s slalom and giant slalom, where both are among the favorites.
In alpine skiing, season champions are crowned for each racing discipline and for overall performance across the disciplines. The championships are known as crystal globes. Shiffrin previously won three overall crystal globes in a row, from 2017-19, before finishing second in 2020 when she took time off following the unexpected death of her father. She ended up in fourth place last year amid injury struggles that limited her to technical events.
Mikaela Shiffrin competes in the women's downhill during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup on March 16, 2022 in Courchevel, France.
The 2022 championship punctuates what’s been a successful yet deeply challenging season for Shiffrin, the third most decorated alpine skier of all time at the world cup level.
In December, her championship hopes seemingly took a hit when she tested positive for COVID-19 and had to miss two technical races, seen as crucial opportunities for her to pick up points.
Shortly after, she came back to win her 47th slalom race, making her the most decorated skier — male or female — in a single racing discipline.
Then, in February, she entered the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 as a favorite to win multiple medals only to fall short in all six of her events. Making the experience even more difficult, Shiffrin skied off the course in three of those races, an exceedingly rare occurrence for the ultra-consistent competitor.
The Olympic experience made her question herself, she said, though she added that she was moved by all the support she received amidst the adversity. Among the biggest supporters throughout has been her boyfriend, Norwegian alpine star Aleksander Aamodt Kilde.
Shiffrin, 27, was able to quickly put those challenging performances behind her when the world cup season resumed in March. In four races leading into the World Cup Finals, she finished among the top four in three of them. Then she opened this week’s racing in France with a surprise win in the sport’s fastest event, the downhill. It was only her third career victory in the downhill, and her first since 2020.
Shiffrin still has two races to go in France, and they’re in her two best events.
Saturday will feature an anticipated slalom showdown between Shiffrin and Vlhova, the defending Olympic champ and current world cup leader in the event. The women’s world cup season wraps up Sunday with a giant slalom.