KILLINGTON, Vt. — When she woke up Sunday morning, Mikaela Shiffrin had serious doubts about the World Cup women’s slalom that was about to take place at Killington.
“I went through moments that I was just like maybe I should not do this because I am so worked up right now and nervous and worried about all the wrong things,” Shiffrin said.
Her fears stemmed from the enormous pressure she felt to perform well at this particular event, a burden that gained weight from a disappointing performance in Saturday’s giant slalom, her status as the favorite in every slalom race, and a sizable crowd filled with her family and friends that was eager to see her win in the state in which she honed her racing skills.
But by midafternoon Sunday, Shiffrin was all smiles.
The star of the US ski team fought through her nervousness and delivered her 10th win in as many slalom starts with two dominant runs on Killington’s Superstar trail, edging Veronika Velez Zuzulova of Slovakia and Wendy Holdener of Switzerland. Shiffrin’s margin of victory was 0.73 seconds over Zuzulova and 0.86 over Holdener.
It was especially satisfying because Shiffrin’s grandmother, who does not travel to her other races, was at Killington to see it firsthand.
“The most proud I’ve ever been is to win a race in front of my nana, and the best part about it is she doesn’t care whether I win or lose,” Shiffrin said.
Shiffrin skied first in the morning run and no one was able to top her time of 43.30 seconds. Then she had to wait as 86 skiers took their runs.
The World Cup format is designed to build excitement for spectators. After the first run, the field is cut to the top 30 (although 31 advanced Sunday because of matching times for the 30th spot). Then the field is reversed, and the slowest qualifiers all go ahead of the leader in the second run.
Once it was down to 10 skiers, one after another assumed the lead. Then it was down to only Shiffrin left in the starting house with a chance to win, and the nerves returned.
“I’ve been in that position a bunch of times now, and you never really get used to it,” she said. “The same thought always crosses through my head, at least once, right when I’m about to go, I’m like, ‘I’m the last one . . . I hope I don’t screw it up.’ ”
She knows how to deal with it, however.
“Then I get the doubtful thoughts out of my head and just remember that no matter when I go, whether I’m going last or fourth or in the middle of the pack, it’s still when it’s my time to run the race it’s only me on the mountain,” Shiffrin said. “I take that time and use it to my advantage because it’s the most fun that I have during the day is actually just skiing the race.”
Shiffrin increased her lead in the World Cup standings but said she is far from satisfied despite winning the first two slaloms of the season.
“My best skiing, I’m not even close to that,” she said.