Mikaela Shiffrin closing in on Lindsey Vonn’s world record ( News Washington )


The trip from Mount Levi, Finland — where Mikaela Shiffrin opened the season by winning her first World Alpine Cup, adding trophies to a pile that knows no bounds — consisted of a race to the hotel with 45 minutes to pack; driving to nearby Kittila for a flight to Helsinki to stay in an airport hotel to sleep before a 4 am alarm flight to Frankfurt, Germany at 6:30 to catch another plane to Boston where he could collect his bags; rent a car and drive three hours to Killington, Vt., arriving around 8 p.m

It is work, of course. So much more.

“The second kind, I’m so wired, I can’t even sleep,” he said. “I’m not exactly like that,Aaaaaah!’ Especially after it started this season, it was so spectacular that I couldn’t turn my brain away.”

What Shiffrin assumes is that the brain has a complete transition. There is no small evidence of that. Those two slalom victories in Finland were the 75th and 76th World Cups of a career that has few equals. Lindsey Vonn holds the women’s record with 82, and Ingemar Stenmark holds the men’s record with 86. Id. it is a small matter.

When you start considering the slalom has been contested at Killington five times, and Shiffrin has won all five, and do the math that he has three separate seasons in which he won more than 12 races — well, the stuff of dreams begins. to be seen as true

“The way I was thinking about it is that if I win enough at a certain point in my career, I will actually finally start to believe that I am a winner and I deserve to be there and that success has come; I’m there,” Shiffrin said this week in a phone interview from Killington. “I’m finally there. I am at the desired place.

“And now I know that he will never feel this way. And every morning when I get up, the first thing I will think is: What must I do today to earn it again?

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He won all his sporting awards: Olympic gold medals (two), world championships gold medals (six), World Cup overall titles (four), the nations offered in every discipline. The drive, the daily motivation: I deserve it all.

“That’s beautiful,” she said. “That’s not a bad thing. In a way, I think it’s almost healthier to live, not dwelling on things in the past, while trying to persevere in your dreams, wherever they take you.

Killington — giant slalom Saturday, slalom Sunday — will be the only stop on the women’s World Cup schedule. Shiffrin loves those events, just two hours from where he had his formative training, at Vermont Academy in Burgh Mountain. “Such a gift, such an atmosphere, such a crowd,” he said.

But it’s also a very business trip. There is work to be done, and while some in the women’s circuit are progressing to cross-country races in Lake Louise, Canada, next week, he will return to Europe to train for technical events, giant slalom and slalom, in which. It placed 63 of his 76 World Cup victories.

When talking to Shiffrin over the years, starting when she was 17 and bursting onto the international stage leading up to her first Olympics in 2014 in Sochi, Russia, I often wondered if it was her nervousness in front of the crowd or her insatiable pursuit of perfection. he’s a training and video junkie—overwhelming with the joy he gets from winning. Now that she’s 27 and somehow closer to the end of her life than the beginning, I know I’ve thought about her back.

Take some training sessions at Levi’s in the weeks before the course. Rather than returning to Copper Mountain in Colorado, where many American runners practiced speed, the US technical runners stayed in Europe and trained in Finland – with some of the better Europeans. There, American teammate Paula Moltzan was laying burning run after burning run.

I was like, ‘What should I do to try to get her?’ ” Shiffrin said. “And then maybe I’d have a neck and a neck or get a little faster – and then I’d put down a quicker time.” And that voice picks up here with emotion. “These are the days that are pre-ty fun. It’s amazing to have that in training.

We see the results and victories count and figure out what is possible and what will become legendary. For Shiffrin, there’s more joy that we don’t see.

“I’m more like running for training, and how much fun it is to train when I’m running well, vs. running,” Shiffrin said. “However, there is a certain part of the thing that makes me question even if I want to do this, and it’s the training that keeps me coming back.”

After the sudden and tragic death of his father, Jeff, first in 2020 and then the pandemic and all the disasters that he worked on, does not always promise to return. The Beijing Olympics, in which she not only did not win a medal but also failed to complete the slalom, could have pushed the combined giant or alpine slalom further to the brink. Recession – even at 27, given the historical records a little earlier – is always somewhere in front of the stove, slowly cooking.

“I’m glad I stuck with it, but it’s definitely still something that’s always on my mind,” Shiffrin said. “Where is the time going to come when I decide that the work is not worth the reward anymore? Nor is it what I feel the most about the work – I really enjoy doing the work.”

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In the event, hard work almost always pays off. The results push the limits of only the game’s stories. But while the characters of Vonn and Stenmark are certainly within his field of vision, that doesn’t make them Shiffrin’s case.

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a factor at all, because I never thought about it,” Shiffrin said. “But you don’t want to be pushed.

“Lindsey has earned the world’s respect for her ski career. His whole career, whatever he was doing, he took so seriously. So whatever I do doesn’t change what happened in his career. I remember it so proudly. But it’s not that I feel any kind of pleasure when I look back on my life.

He can look back on his life and realize that it has already accomplished more than he could have hoped for. The rest of us can look ahead and mark the boundaries on the horizon. The crowd at Killington cheered at another Shiffrin victory. The joy of Shiffrin is going to be an improvement in training in the week leading up to the run. Both can be in the same space. They all lead to a place – bordering on unusual art – that turns the brain painfully away.


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