At the age of 22, US ski prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin has achieved what most racers would die for. She's an Olympic gold medallist, a three-time world champion, a four-time World Cup slalom winner – and now she's the overall FIS Alpine Ski World Cup champion.
After her sweep of the penultimate races at Squaw Valley, California last weekend, Shiffrin entered the week of World Cup Finals in Aspen, Colorado with an almost insurmountable lead in the overall standings. She had 378 points more than her only competitor for the World Cup crown, Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia.
With Shiffrin sitting out the speed races in the warm, spring snow conditions, Stuhec won the last downhill and finished second in the Super-G, cutting Shiffrin's advantage to 198 points.
Citing exhaustion however, Stuhec announced on Friday that she won't race the season's concluding slalom on Saturday, effectively relinquishing the overall title to Shiffrin with two races remaining.
The big 7kg crystal globe awarded to the overall World Cup winner denotes the best skier in the course of an entire season, a total of 37 races this winter. Given the consistency it requires over five long months, many consider it the biggest prize in skiing.
With her latest conquest, Shiffrin again wrote major ski racing history: she's the youngest World Cup overall champion since Croatian Janica Kostelic in 2003. She's also only the fifth American to win the title, after legends Phil Mahre (1981–83), Tamara McKinney (1983), Bode Miller (2005, 2008) and Lindsey Vonn (2008–10, 2012).
Shiffrin's talent is well-known, as is her focus, commitment and discipline. Winning the World Cup overall was just a matter of time for her – and everyone agrees there's more to come.
She’s just a great skier. I think in her skiing, the basics – the ABCs– is the most impressive thing about her performance. That’s why she’s going be consistent for many years. It’s very solidAksel Lund Svindal
"She's unique – a very devoted person. It's a joy to watch her ski-dance. If she stays healthy, she's capable of a lot more in speed," says Janica Kostelić, herself a three-time overall World Cup winner, who won her first large globe at 19 and retired at 25.
I’m really impressed by Mikaela’s consistency year after year. And she’s only 22. If you look at her results, it’s hard to believe that she still has most of her career ahead of her. I can only say hats off!Marcel Hirscher
As icing on the cake, Shiffrin also has the chance to clinch her career first Giant Slalom globe on Sunday. She currently trails the reigning world champion, Tessa Worley of France, by 80 points.
This book is certain to have a sequel, and 2018 will be an Olympic one. Stay tuned for many more successes in the Shiffrin saga!