Shi≠rin is the world’s best skier, even if she doesn’t be­lieve it

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By John Meyer

The World Cup Fi­nals wrap up af­ter a few days of glory on Aspen Moun­tain for Ea­gleVail phe­nom Mikaela Shiffrin.

aspen» The World Cup Fi­nals typ­i­cally feel like the last week of school be­fore sum­mer va­ca­tion. The few rac­ers still in con­tention for sea­son ti­tles are like the kids who haven’t fin­ished their fi­nal ex­ams yet. The rest are a lot more re­laxed be­cause school is al­most out, the snow is melt­ing and limbs are bared to be­gin work­ing on sun­tans.

It’s also rare for the women and men to race at the same venue. That was a bonus here for Amer­i­can Travis Ganong, the top Amer­i­can man on the tour this sea­son, be­cause his girl­friend is Cana­dian racer Marie-Michele Gagnon. He raced down­hill Wed­nes­day and su­per-G on Thurs­day. She raced slalom Satur­day and gi­ant slalom Sun­day. Then they sat side by side in shirt­sleeve tem­per­a­tures to watch the fi­nal race of the sea­son, the men’s slalom.

“All of us are such good friends, on the men’s tour and the women’s tour, from tech to speed,” Ganong said. “It’s fun to share the last race of the year un­der perfect, beau­ti­ful, sunny con­di­tions.”

There was noth­ing re­lax­ing about the week for Mikaela Shiffrin, who fi­nally took pos­ses­sion of her World Cup over­all crys­tal globe Sun­day. She looked ex­hausted.

“I think ev­ery­body’s tired,” Shif-

frin said. “I def­i­nitely feel it. It’s just about man­ag­ing ev­ery­thing com­ing into the end of the year. It’s been amaz­ing to race World Cup Fi­nals in Aspen, in my home state, but it’s also a lot more ef­fort be­ing the Amer­i­can girl. Ev­ery­body is so ex­cited, which is amaz­ing, but I feel the need to take a lit­tle bit more time for ev­ery­body. It ends up be­ing a lit­tle bit more tir­ing.”

Shiffrin called Sun­day “a very bit­ter­sweet day.” She failed to win ei­ther of her races here, fin­ish­ing sixth in GS on Sun­day and sec­ond Satur­day in slalom. She claimed the over­all by a com­fort­able mar­gin but said she doesn’t feel like “the world’s best skier,” and won’t un­til she starts win­ning in the speed dis­ci­plines, down­hill and su­per-G.

“I can say I’m the best skier in the tech events,” Shiffrin said, “but I’m not the best skier.”

She is still try­ing to fig­ure out how she should feel about win­ning the over­all and said maybe she never will.

“This is the same (as) af­ter win­ning the (Olympic) gold in Sochi and imme- di­ately an­swer­ing ques­tions about how I felt about win­ning that medal,” Shiffrin said. “Es­pe­cially af­ter to­day, hav­ing not a re­ally great per­for­mance and be­ing dis­ap­pointed about that, it’s hard to think that I re­ally de­serve to get the over­all. But it’s been an amaz­ing sea­son. I have to re­mem­ber all the other races as well.”

Be­fore she could leave the moun­tain, she had to pose for pic­tures with Aus­trian Mar­cel Hirscher, who won his sixth straight men’s over­all. Hirscher said he was “speech­less” when he first saw her ta­lent in 2013, her break­out sea­son.

Off­sea­son train­ing this year will have a special edge be­cause the count­down to the 2018 Win­ter Olympics re­ally starts now. Shiffrin will be one of the most hyped per­son­al­i­ties on the U.S. Olympic Team over the next 11 months and will need to man­age her sched­ule wisely. First she needs some down time. “I’m go­ing to go home for a few days,” Shiffrin said. “I might clean my room. Then we’re go­ing to go back to Mas­sachusetts and visit my Nana (grand­mother).”

World Cup over­all cham­pion Mikaela Shiffrin laughs Sun­day as she shows off her crys­tal globe tro­phy on the podium af­ter the World Cup Fi­nals at Aspen Moun­tain. He­len H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Mikaela Shiffrin holds the crys­tal globe tro­phy for win­ning the World Cup over­all ti­tle, right, and her sim­i­lar award for the World Cup slalom ti­tle, left, Sun­day at the bot­tom of Aspen Moun­tain. He­len H. Richardson, The Denver Post

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