Mikaela Shiffrin captures Crystal Globe with 60th slalom win, 97th World Cup victory

Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States capped her season that was marred by a six-week injury layoff with her record-extending 60th win in slalom and 97th overall at the World Cup finals Saturday in Saalbach, Austria.

Toronto's Ali Nullmeyer 7th of 17 finishers at season-ending event in Austria

A beaming American women's skier raises the Crystal Globe trophy in her right hand after Saturday's slalom in Saalbach, Austria, where she won the season-ending race for her 97th World Cup victory.
Second after the first run in her signature discipline, American star Mikaela Shiffrin stormed to her 60th slalom victory with a spectacular second run and combined time of 1:53.22 on Saturday at the alpine World Cup finals in Saalbach, Austria. (Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Images)

For Mikaela Shiffrin, the award for the best slalom skier this season is different from the 15 Crystal Globes the American star won earlier in her career.

This one, for a change, doesn't feel like the end of a season.

Shiffrin capped her campaign marred by a recent six-week injury layoff with her record-extending 60th win in slalom and 97th overall at the World Cup finals Saturday in Saalbach, Austria.

She had already locked up her record-matching eighth slalom season title last week by winning her first race back since hurting her knee in a downhill crash Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy in January, but globes are only handed over after the last race.

"It was like a middle season for me. I'm probably the most excited one to be here. Everyone wants to be home and I'm like: 'No! We've just started again'," said Shiffrin, adding her feeling had "a lot to do with the crowd here cheering so much. It gives this emotion like what we want to feel at races, so I'm already excited to be back."

Shiffrin, who turned 29 on Wednesday, said on Instagram the slalom would be her last race of the season, skipping Sunday's giant slalom and next week's speed events.

"I am so happy to have these final two races, like they give me something to be really proud of," Shiffrin said.

WATCH | Shiffrin overtakes Larsson with sensational 2nd run to prevail in Austria:

Mikaela Shiffrin gets 60th career World Cup slalom win in her final race of the season

2 months ago
Duration 4:58
The victory in Saalbach, Austria, marked Shiffrin’s record-extending 97th career World Cup win.

The two-time Olympic champion sprained the medial collateral and tibiofibular ligaments in her knee, while also still recovering from a bone bruise she had sustained at the start of the season, when she was among a slew of World Cup, Olympic and world champions to crash hard in a packed January program, including her partner Aleksander Aamodt Kilde.

"Oh wow, it's been a wild season," Shiffrin said. "I am excited to see Alex, I am excited to go home, but I don't want the season to be over."

Season 'taught me a lot about patience'

Shiffrin won nine of the 21 races she competed in this season, but had to concede the overall title after missing too many races when nursing her knee injury. The American has won the big globe five times since 2017, with Swiss skier Lara Gut-Behrami all but confirmed as the new champion.

"I think it was quite a learning experience. There is always something you learn every season," Shiffrin said. "This one taught me a lot about patience, a lot about trust, a lot about communication, and learning how to manage pain and still ski. Those are really important things that I hope will be useful for the rest of my career."

On Saturday, Shiffrin trailed Anna Swenn Larsson of Sweden after the first run but ultimately won the season-ending slalom by 0.54 seconds in a combined time of one minute 53.22 seconds over Mina Fuerst Holtmann of Norway, while Swenn Larsson dropped to third, 0.63 off the pace.

Toronto's Ali Nullmeyer was seventh in 1:54.28, 1.06 seconds behind Shiffrin. The lone Canadian in the competition sat fourth after her opening run of 54.01, just 91-100ths of a second back of Larsson.

In her 50th World Cup start, Nullmeyer capped her best World Cup season with points in 10 of 11 races to place 11th in the season standings.

"My first run today was super solid, and I didn't want to hold anything back on my second run and there were a couple of mistakes that cost me the chance to place a little higher," the 25-year-old told Alpine Canada.

"I'm happy to end the season with another top 10 and already looking forward to next season. I'm healthy, feeling good about skiing, and grateful for all the support from the team."

Key rivals had campaigns cut short

Winning back-to-back races to wrap up her season left Shiffrin three victories short of the 100-win mark, a milestone long deemed unreachable.

With key rivals Petra Vlhova and Wendy Holdener ending their campaigns prematurely with injuries, Shiffrin has won seven slaloms this season, raising her career tally to 60. No other skier, male or female, has won more than 46 races in a single discipline.

Asked in a course-side TV interview about her numbers of wins, Shiffrin took a breath before answering.

"Just a little bit hard to process it all. It's like these days just make me feel so invigorated, like so alive, and that's what I'm focusing on. I'm trying to soak that all in," she said.

"I never really focused too much on the numbers, but now I feel OK with them, like it's not pressure, it's not anything, it's just an honor."

On a first-run course set by Shiffrin's coach Karin Harjo, Swenn Larsson was 0.11 second faster than Shiffrin.

"I felt really good on my skis, I thought my equipment for this run was really good set up. I was pushing," said Shiffrin, referring to the challenging course conditions after overnight rain softened the snow.

"It was quite OK, so I could ski how I wanted. Ideally, I can be maybe a little bit more clean on a couple of sections, but actually I think I pushed about to my maximum there."

The next women's race at the finals is the giant slalom on Sunday, when Gut-Behrami starts with a 95-point lead over her Italian challenger Federica Brignone.

With files from CBC Sports

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