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Mikaela Shiffrin talks about her record-breaking World Cup ski races

Mikaela Shiffrin on the podium at Kronplatz World Cup
Mike Dawson (@mikedawsy)
U.S. Ski Team (@usskiteam)
Mikaela Shiffrin on the podium at Kronplatz World Cup

World Cup skier Mikaela Shiffrin is setting records this season. On Tuesday she won her 83rd giant slalom race, topping former teammate Lindsey Vonn to become the top female racer in World Cup history. A day later she won her 84th race during competition in Italy.

Mikaela Shiffrin not only holds records now in World Cup skiing, she also has won two Olympic golds and one silver and six world championship titles over her career.

Shiffrin has won 10 races so far this season and says it’s a team effort. The 27-year-old spoke with reporters via Zoom about her record-breaking runs.

“It’s all of us together. It’s a huge group effort. And in the moment when it happens, we’re mostly nervous and tired and really, really uncertain. And like, yesterday and today every time I felt some pang of nervousness or my heart starts beating uncontrollably, I really just tried to focus on the feeling I have on my GS (Giant Slalom) skis because it’s the most wonderful thing. I love how I feel skiing GS right now and it’s been a long time coming working on that. And even the beginning of this season I was not there. And then since Semmering (Austria) my feeling has clicked better and better and better and I’m trying to focus on that feeling because there’s obviously so much talk about numbers and records and I totally get why. But when I’m in the start gate I am really trying not to focus on that.”

Shiffrin says this year she has been mentally sharper than in the past.

“It’s the first year I can actually memorize a full course. And obviously with racing you have to remember a lot and you have to remember it fast and then you have to ski it well and fast. And this is the first season where I felt like I actually had some level of mental, I don’t know like, energy.”

Shiffrin is within two wins of the overall record of 86 wins held by Swedish skier Ingemar Stenmark. In a Tuesday Wall Street Journal articleStenmark is quoted saying Shiffrin “is such a great skier...and really deserves to break my record. She will be the first to reach 100 World Cup victories.”

Shiffren says Stenmark’s legacy is synonymous with ski racing.

“I don’t think that’s something that I can surpass. I don’t know if I ever will. He set the standard for what ski racing has become. But I love that there will be plenty of people who don’t care what I achieve. They believe Ingemar is the greatest. They believe Lindsey (Vonn) is the greatest. And so their legacies will always remain intact and they will always be a part of ski racing history. And I think the greatest accomplishment is just to be part of that conversation. But I’m not so worried about the nitpicking the numbers because I don’t think it really makes a difference.”

As Shiffrin ended the press conference she suggested people look at her latest You Tube video because she finds it hard to explain her emotions about her record-setting wins.

“I put a lot of effort into doing a monologue that goes with the ending and like everybody asks what 82 means to me or what 83 or now what 84 means to me and it kind of explains why I don’t have words for that.”

“I wish someone would tell me how I’m supposed to feel," Shiffrin says in the video. "What it’s supposed to mean. I wish the emotion could be explained with words. But it can’t be because it’s different for everyone.”