'Proud' Shiffrin ends sublime season with record-equalling fourth globe
Soldeu (Andorra) (AFP)
A "proud" Mikaela Shiffrin capped her phenomenal season with victory in the giant slalom at the World Cup finals in Soldeu on Sunday for her 17th win and a record-equalling fourth globe.
The all-conquering American ski queen added the giant slalom to the super-G and slalom titles having already been crowned the overall champion for the third straight season at the start of March by securing the crystal globe.
"I've always dreamed of the GS globe, the slalom came but this is my first GS, I thought I would never get it because there was always someone faster or better so there was a lot of emotion at the finish line," the champion said.
"Before the race I reminded myself of all this and I just went for it," she explained.
"I wanted to be aggressive and take some risks to earn the globe, not win it by coming 10th with a conservative run, I wanted to be proud of my skiing and say I deserved that victory," said Shiffrin, who once again raced with great style.
The win drew her alongside Lindsey Vonn and Tina Maze, the only other two women skiers to capture four titles in the one season.
Only former Swiss ski great Pirmin Zurbriggen has bettered that tally when he ended the 1987 season with five titles.
Shiffrin, who turned 24 this week, has maintained her impressive run of form right to the end, even though she only had to finish in the first 15 on Sunday to be assured of winning the overall giant slalom title.
On Saturday the unstoppable skier from Colorado won the slalom, these two wins coming after last week's exploit in the Czech Republic when she set a new record for most World Cup victories in a season with her 15th.
That pulled her clear of the previous benchmark of 14 set by Swiss legend Vreni Schneider who achieved the feat in 1988-89.
Sunday was Shiffrin's 60th World Cup win. Vonn, who is 10 years older, retired with 82 career wins in February.
Vonn claimed four globes twice, in 2010 and 2012, while Maze achieved the same feat in 2013.
Shiffrin ended her season at the top of the podium after beating New Zealander Alice Robinson, the 17-year-old invited to the World Cup finals as junior world champion in the discipline, by 0.30sec.
Slovakia's Petra Vlhova took third at 0.41s.
If Shiffrin is able to maintain her rate of success, she will threaten the outright record of 86 World Cup wins held by Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark in two seasons time.
The one record that escaped her clutches this campaign was the points record of 2,414 set by Maze in 2013. She winds up the 2018/2019 season with 2,204.
Aside from Shiffrin, it was the precocious performance of teenage New Zealander Robinson that caught the eye in Andorra, the youngster climbing the podium for the first time, aged just 17 years, three months.
The Kiwi left a cluster of established stars in her wake, including France's double world champion Tessa Worley and Viktoria Rebensburg, Germany's 2010 Olympic champion who was penalised for a major mistake on her second run.
Earlier, Sweden's 2018 Olympic slalom champion Frida Hansdotter competed in her final race Saturday.
To mark her retirement, she came down the slope wearing traditional Swedish costume, basket in hand to distribute bread rolls, followed by a champagne shower with her teammates at the finish.
Later, men's champion Marcel Hirscher trailed in out of the top 10 behind Clement Noel in the season-closing men's World Cup slalom having already secured the discipline's small globe.
"He was brilliant, technical, smooth and clean and very nice to watch," Hirscher said of Noel.
"Now I'm going to forget about it all and have seven months off," he said, on a major hint that despite his eight World Cup wins, he will indeed race again next season.
? 2019 AFP