Mikaela Shiffrin Sets New Record with Most Alpine Skiing World Cup Victories
Mikaela Shiffrin has secured her place in history by breaking the overall career World Cup victory record on Saturday. Her 87th victory, which came by hundredths of a second, surpassed the previous record of 86 wins set by Sweden's Ingemar Stenmark in 1989 when he was 32 years old.
The 27-year-old Shiffrin has attained a historic accomplishment, and if she maintains her health and keeps competing, it is possible that she could accumulate more than 100 World Cup successes by the end of her skiing career. She has three races left in the World Cup finals, which will be occurring next week.
Mikaela Shiffrin achieved another momentous victory this past Saturday in Sweden, twelve years to the day since her very first World Cup race in the Czech Republic at the age of 15. She had previously set the world record at the same place in Sweden where she won her first World Cup race at 17.
In a recent interview with NPR's A Martínez, Shiffrin shared that winning ski races accounts for only 5% of the work she does. The day-to-day training that carries on all year long is what she focuses on, mentioning that she dreams about those race wins.
Mikaela Shiffrin has achieved remarkable success in her skiing career. The American has raced in the World Cup a total of 244 times and has made the podium 136 times, more than half of the times she has competed. This is an impressive feat as Shiffrin has achieved podium finishes in a variety of skiing disciplines, including slalom, giant slalom, super-G, and downhill.
Sometimes in a string of races, it's easy to get complacent when I'm having success and let my mind drift off to how well I'm doing and hope it keeps going this way. But then I'll have a race that isn't up to par and it brings me back to reality. The more I achieve, the more I understand how much effort and work is necessary to retain the results. Right now it's a regular decision for me: am I willing to put in the effort for this day? Fortunately, so far I haven't encountered many times where I'm not up to the task.
Generally, when I'm on my game and skiing at my best, I come out on top a lot. However, there are times I've won when I don't feel I've truly been skiing well. It's possible to trick myself into thinking I did great, and I made it, but then that will come back to haunt me in the upcoming races. To continue succeeding, I must always stay mindful of the high standard of skiing I have to uphold.
I don't necessarily agree that confidence is a major factor in my success. Throughout my career, many people have encouraged me to have more self-assurance, and that the difference between winning and losing is just rooted in confidence. However, I don't believe this to be the case. The races that I have won have not been due to confidence, but rather how sure I am in my skiing technique. If I trust in my own skiing, I can expect to have a successful outcome.
If you were to ask me about a potential race, I usually wouldn't think I'm going to win. No matter how much I succeed in my athletics career, somebody will always find something negative to say about my achievements. Even after the recent World Championships, where I won three more medals and increased my total to 14, people found something to critique. No matter what I do, it seems I won't ever be good enough.
Being successful in professional sports can be a bit of a double-edged sword. For instance, if I was based in Europe, I would get stopped multiple times on my way to the grocery store. On the flip side, if I was to go to a major U.S. city, the chances that I get stopped that many times would be lower and I would enjoy more of a level of privacy. Although this gives me a certain degree of privacy, it also means that increasing viewership of the sport and the acquisition of more sponsors and money for other athletes has been an uphill battle.
Ski racing isn't as lucrative as the NBA or football, meaning most athletes involved need to pursue a second career out of necessity. Unfortunately, this reality is limiting the potential for growth in the sport and opportunities for those who want to make a career out of it. I'm fortunate to be in a good position, but I would like to see the sport expand so that everyone can benefit.
I take a sense of accomplishment in being part of a sport with equal prize money. During the season, the rewards for participating are never disparate. This didn't require a special effort on our part, as it simply developed in ski racing naturally.