Shiffrin, 27, led Gut-Behrami by 0.13 seconds after Tuesday’s first run, then extended her lead on her second trip, “pushing,” she told reporters, “as hard as I could at every turn.”
Shiffrin said she was “a bit nervous for the second run” because of the quality of the competition but “conditions on the hill were perfect.”
Now, she will immediately have a chance to increase her total. Another giant slalom is scheduled for Wednesday in Kronplatz. “I just tried to breathe a bit and enjoy it,” she said, “and the thing I’m really excited about is that we get two more runs on this hill [Wednesday] because it’s in really good condition.”
Two slalom races follow this weekend in the Czech Republic. Though she has amassed her total by winning across all of Alpine skiing’s disciplines, Tuesday was Shiffrin’s 18th victory in giant slalom, and she has a record 51 wins in slalom.
The next benchmark for Shiffrin? The 86 World Cup victories of Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark, who holds the record for most wins by a skier of any gender. With seven more technical races — slaloms and giant slaloms, Shiffrin’s strength — on the schedule, it’s conceivable she would threaten the record this season. She has won eight of the 14 World Cup slaloms and giant slaloms contested thus far in 2022-23.
But there is also the matter, if and when she passes Stenmark, of how far she can push the new mark. Stenmark himself said in a recent interview streamed on Olympics.com that she “will win more than 100 races.” Vonn won her 82 races in 395 starts across 14 seasons, many of which were shortened by a variety of injuries. She retired in 2019 at age 34, her body too beat up to continue. Stenmark’s 86 victories came in what the International Ski Federation says were 230 starts in the 1970s and 1980s, though record-keeping wasn’t as precise in that era. Stenmark won his last race 15 years after his first, and he retired in 1989 just before he turned 33.
Shiffrin turns 28 in March, and she is indeed closer to the end of her career than the beginning. But her 83rd win came in her 238th start, and because she made her World Cup debut just before she turned 16, she is already in her 13th season. She has piled up victories at a higher rate than either Stenmark and Vonn, and she would seemingly have years ahead of her to build on her total.
After she tied Vonn this month, Shiffrin expressed uncertainty about “resetting” — her preferred term to “breaking” — Stenmark’s record.
“I know it’s possible. Like, we have a lot of races left, and there’s not that many till I get to that number,” she told reporters. “But I know I might not win another race this season. And people will be like: ‘Oh, my gosh, you were so close. What happened?’ And I’m like, ‘That’s ski racing.’”
Vonn, however, sees it differently. “I knew from the very beginning that she would be the one to break all the records, but to do it at such a young age is really impressive,” Vonn wrote in a first-person essay for the Associated Press this month.
“Catching Ingemar Stenmark’s men’s mark of 86 wins was always the ultimate goal for me, but with the injuries I sustained it just wasn’t possible. For her, the sky’s the limit. I don’t think that Stenmark is necessarily the benchmark. She’s going to set the new standard, and we’ll have to wait and see how high she can go.”