The world lights up.
The sun rises, says the Eurosport commentator, and its brightness dazzles reflected in the frozen lake at its feet, when Mikaela Shiffrin, who turns 28 on Monday, finishes turning the layout of so many curves into an almost infinite straight line, melting for 55 seconds on hard snow, from the giant slalom in Åre.
She wins the first race with such an advantage, more than a second over the Italian Federica Brignone, that in the second ski, calm, conservative, and even being sixth in the set, she triumphs.
She achieved her 12th victory of the season in the World Cup, two weeks after a World Cup in Méribel closed with one gold and two silvers.
Only 2019 (17 World Cups and two World Cups) was a better year for the North American.
None like her in the year.
None in history.
A month and a half after the 85th victory of her career in the World Cup, which began in 2013, at the age of 18, Mikaela Shiffrin reaches her 86th.
He does it in Åre, a Swedish station 600 kilometers north of Stockholm, so icy –22 below zero at the exit door at 10 in the morning, minus two at 2:00 p.m. – how frozen is his lake all winter, and so symbolic for his victory as could hardly be another, as if he had delayed the moment on purpose.
He did it in the same place where he won his first World Cup slalom on December 20, 2012, at the age of 17, in the birthplace of Ingemar Stenmark, a Swedish skier born 400 kilometers further north, already touching the Norwegian border. and the polar circle, which in 1989, when he retired at the age of 33, after 15 in the World Cup, had left the unique and unbeatable record at 86, it was believed,
No one has yet been born who surpasses it, he told himself then.
Lindsey Vonn, the great American called to do it, had already been born: she stayed at 82. Six years after the retirement of the Swedish giant, as icy in the demonstration of his exhibitions as his compatriot Björn Borg, on March 13, 1995, he was born Mikaela Shiffrin.
8⃣6⃣ 𝓥𝓘𝓒𝓣𝓞𝓡𝓘𝓐𝓢 𝓔𝓝 𝓒𝓞𝓟𝓐 𝓜𝓤𝓝𝓓𝓞
👏👏 𝐌𝐈𝐊𝐀𝐄𝐋𝐀 𝐒𝐇𝐈𝐅𝐅𝐑𝐈𝐍 𝐒𝐇𝐈𝐅𝐅𝐑𝐈𝐍 continues to make Ingemar Stenmark
⛷ the American won the giant test held in are
😍 I saw it in @eurosport_es pic.twitter.com/qee4yl8bsm
– Eurosport.es (@Eurosport_ES) March 10, 2023
On Saturday, in the slalom, for which she is also a favourite, Shiffrin could already be the most victorious solo player in history.
The only one.
Stenmark and Vonn got their last victories at 33 years old.
Shiffrin would thus have five left to add to her count.
The figure of 100 victories does not seem crazy to anyone.
But she doesn't talk about it and when they ask her what it feels like to have reached Stenmark, she answers by saying that what makes her day the most, and the victory, difficult, she says, "because in the second round there was little visibility", was knowing that he secured his second glass globe in the giant slalom.
“It's been an amazing day,” she says.
"What a day!"
Mikaela Shiffrin is unique, but she can't help but be compared to others.
Few have her numbers—five large crystal globes, seven-time world champion, two-time Olympic champion, historic record holder in World Cup events—but when her weight is valued, few speak or write about her without introducing the same phrase in the same sentence. Named after Lindsey Vonn, the former American ski star.
And with both of them they play the game of looking for the differences, drawing crude diagrams.
Where Vonn is daring, almost reckless, Shiffrin, from Vail, Colorado, in the Rockies, is prudent;
where Vonn is pure physical strength, she fights with the snow, and her favorite test is the descent, the risk, the speed.
Shiffrin is metaphysical, she has touch, she understands herself with the snow, she feels it under her skis in the slalom, what is most hers, pure technique and control,
and it slides like nobody else.
Vonn knows no fear and likes the world of
Shiffrin wakes up in a sweat because he dreams that he forgot to ski and he needs to go quickly to the slopes to prove that it was all a nightmare, and he also lives in fear of falling and hurting himself, and of being in pain, he hates pain.
Vonn was born for speed;
Shiffrin only ventured into downhill and super-giant when she had been winning slaloms and giants for five years.
“I hate risk,” he says.
“In the descents I am the most prudent of all.
I also want to go fast, but I want to arrive whole”.
Vonn tore multiple ligaments and everything;
Shiffrin, the prudent champion, never, and her greatest luxury, neither beers nor parties, is taking a nap.
Vonn has been married and divorced and has maintained courtships with famous athletes, such as Tiger Woods or ice hockey player PK Subban;
Both are perfectionists, both are ambitious.
Both prodigy girls.
One, Vonn, started competing in the World Cup at 17;
the other, Shiffrin, at 16. They lived together for a few years, between 2013 and 2018, on the circuit, the old star, 10 years older, the one she arrives.
They did not become friends.
Vonn skied obsessed with breaking records, and until she was surpassed by Shiffrin this January, she was the skier with the most World Cup victories (83), while Shiffrin publicly fled the concept of running as a fighter.
“Lindsey kept talking about records, it was her goal, the most wins.
Not for me.
I'm happy to just be.
People talk about records because they are exciting,” she says.
“But I have never sought to break records.
When I was younger, my only goal was to be the best in the world, and now I'm just focused on winning crystal globes, the slalom, the giant, the great globe overall... People talk about numbers, but I don't want to be distracted by the figures..."
Shiffrin has been a skier since she was three, since her parents took her to the slopes and her talent blossomed.
His father, an anesthetist who was in charge of the logistics of the Shiffrin galaxy, the organization of the more than 10 people that make up his working group, died accidentally in 2020, and his death, and the pandemic, were the reasons for a serious crisis that came to fruition last winter at the Beijing Games, to which the Colorado skier attended as a great star aspiring to victory in the five specialties – downhill, super-giant, giant, slalom and combined.
And she came out empty.
In Beijing, she suffered harassment on the networks, the vice of
, bad wishes, and suffered so much that even Simone Biles, the gymnast who at Tokyo 21 decided, when she was doing a spin in the air, that there was no point in doing what she was doing, sent her messages of support and understanding, and shared with her the importance of taking care of mental health above all things.
And from the lowest year she bounced back to the best season of hers.
“After my father's death I suffered from memory problems.
It has been a hard three years.
This winter, finally, I can focus like before, ”he says.
"But it has cost."
She overcame the crisis, regained her confidence and mental strength, she says, thanks also to her mother, Eileen, who always travels with her and supervises her training and technique as well as her work group.
And Shiffrin obeys her when she tells him, for example, that the time has come to replace her coach of the last seven years, Mike Day, with the Austrian Mark Mitter.
"She is my mother and she is my best friend," says Shiffrin in
1.70 meters, 66 kilos, perfect teeth, sparkling smile, the very picture of health and vitality in all the portraits.
“Skiing is a very cerebral sport.
When you are at the starting gate you have to be very strong mentally, be 100% prepared.
And that is not easy.
My main adversary is myself, my head.
When I chain victories, my body and my head travel in unison, when I cross paths, in difficult moments, I feel as if I were fighting with myself, inside me.
I won the first round of a slalom and sank in the second.
For this reason, it is impressive to see that I once again have the mental strength that allows me to keep winning”.
Vonn was consumed with the desire to be unique.
She ended up hating the ski circuit.
She overwhelmed him with the figure she had created.
She suffered from depression.
Shiffrin, one who didn't want to be Vonn, has struck a footing in her 10 years in the circus.
And, prudently, she enjoys it.
She is the queen.
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