KILLINGTON, Vt. — Mikaela Shiffrin marked the return of the women’s World Cup ski racing tour to North America by putting her name on yet another record — and the two-time Olympic champion did it Sunday on home snow.
Shiffrin beat Petra Vlhova — her main rival — for her 46th career win in slalom. That matched a 32-year-old record for most World Cup wins in a single discipline, set by Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark in giant slalom.
The 26-year-old Shiffrin was in tears after her 71st World Cup victory was confirmed.
“Getting to the finish knowing I put everything I could into it, that’s always a special feeling,” said Shiffrin, who has endured two difficult years which included the loss of her grandmother in October 2019 and the death of her father less than four months later.
“I’ve had a lot of incredible memories at this race over the years, and I’ve shared it with family and all the people I love, the people who I love the most in the world. And this year, two of them are not here anymore. So it’s emotional, it’s one of the more emotional ones for sure.”
While Shiffrin hails from Vail, Colo., she can almost consider Killington a hometown race as she attended Vermont’s Burke Mountain Academy as a teenager.
Shiffrin trailed Vlhova by 0.20 seconds after the first run and, although she made an error at the top of her second run, a fantastic finish ensured she was still fastest on that second run.
“At my top speed, this run, I don’t know if I can ski faster slalom than that,” Shiffrin told NBC Sports. “My mentality was super aggressive [on the second run]. That’s really how I need to be for both runs.”
Shiffrin lifted her arms over her head to soak in the cheers of the passionate home crowd before cupping her hand to her ear as she beamed broadly.
Then she turned to watch her rival.
Vlhova also made a mistake, and that cost her even more dearly than Shiffrin’s. The overall World Cup champion was almost a second slower than Shiffrin on the second run to ultimately finish 0.75 behind in second place.
Wendy Holdener of Switzerland finished third, 0.83 behind Shiffrin.
Shiffrin, who had won all four previous World Cup slalom races in Killington, was in tears. Last year’s event was canceled because of the pandemic.
Stenmark has the most total World Cup wins (86), while Shiffrin is third (71).
“I actually didn’t know the [46 wins] record,” Shiffrin told NBC Sports. “I won’t say it’s not meaningful. It certainly is, but I’m trying not to focus on those numbers. The closer I get to these marks, it’s hard not to think about it and want that.”
Shiffrin moved 20 points ahead of Vlhova at the top of the overall World Cup standings.
Shiffrin won the season-opening giant slalom in Sölden, Austria, but finished second to Vlhova in both slalom races in Levi, Finland, last week.
The Women’s World Cup circuit moves to Lake Louise, Canada, next weekend for the season’s first speed races.
The men’s circuit was at the Alberta course this weekend, but heavy, wet snow continued to blanket Banff National Park and made it too hard to groom the course in time for its scheduled noon start, forcing the cancellation of Sunday’s super-G.
Friday’s downhill also was canceled because of too much snow. Saturday’s downhill, won by Matthias Mayer of Austria, was the first of the 2021-22 season.
“It was Mother Nature 2, Lake Louise World Cup 1 this weekend,” race chairman Brian Lynam said.
An additional 10 inches of snow was forecast for the national park by Monday on top of between 11 and 16 that had piled up over the three previous days.
Snowcats began working the course at 2 a.m. and workers were on it 6 a.m. in an attempt to get the race in Sunday.
“We’re a speed event,” Lynam said. “It’s just too much snow to move. It wouldn’t matter how many cats we had or volunteers, especially on some of the steep pitches where we have to use winch cables.”
The canceled downhill was added to the program for the next World Cup in Beaver Creek, Colo., starting Friday.
Meanwhile, the world governing body of skiing said that of 10 people involved in the race weekend who initially tested positive for COVID-19, nine were determined to be false positives and were deemed not infected after they were put into isolation and retested.
“The FIS Task Force has determined that given only one individual tested positive with minimal secondary contact, the tour will move onto its next stop in Vail/Beaver Creek,” the International Ski Federation said in a statement. “The individual who tested positive will stay in Canada and complete a mandatory 10-day quarantine according to local regulations.”
The women arrive in Alberta for two downhills and a super-G, with the first training run scheduled for Tuesday.