Another race won, another crystal trophy earned, another World Cup record written by Mikaela Shiffrin.
Shiffrin won a giant slalom yesterday to seal the season-long standings title and, shedding a few tears while sitting in the finish area, lifted a record-tying fourth World Cup crystal globe in the same season. "I wanted to come out here today and really earn it. Really earn it and deserve it," said Shiffrin, whose 17th World Cup win this season extended her own record. A fourth discipline title in one season matched the women's World Cup record jointly held by Lindsey Vonn (2010, 2012) and Tina Maze (2013).
Shiffrin needed only a top-15 finish on a sun-soaked day in Andorra to ensure closest challenger Petra Vlhova could not overhaul the American star's points total. Instead, the Olympic giant slalom champion retained her first-run lead in style to finish 0.30 seconds ahead of 17-year-old Alice Robinson. Vlhova was third, 0.41 back. While Shiffrin is the undisputed current star of women's Alpine skiing, a bright future was seen yesterday for Robinson. She earned her World Cup finals entry by winning the giant slalom at the junior world championships last month.
The New Zealand prospect got her first career podium when just six months older than Shiffrin was getting her first top-3 finish, in a December 2011 slalom. "It's an amazing feeling," Robinson told Swiss broadcaster RTS. "It's crazy, so cool to share the first podium with Petra and Mikaela. They're such great skiers."
Shiffrin's four crystal globes tops the three earned by the men's standout Marcel Hirscher. Hirscher already clinched the slalom title, and a record-extending eighth straight overall title, before the final race Sunday. Seeming fatigued by a long season, Hirscher finished 14th, trailing 1.62 behind the winner Clement Noel in what could be his last World Cup race. The 30-year-old Hirscher said Saturday after placing sixth in giant slalom that he could spend next season with his young family "cooking and holding the baby." "I'm thinking about this every day," Hirscher said of possibly retiring, acknowledging he has a "very hard decision" in the next two weeks. Noel barely retained his first-run lead on fast-softening snow, posting the 20th-fastest second-leg time to be 0.18 ahead of Manuel Feller. Daniel Yule was third, trailing Noel by 0.83, to earn $5,000 for a non-profit agency campaigning against climate change.