SHIFFRIN OWNS THE WORLD CUP
Shi≠rin is the world’s best skier, even if she doesn’t believe it
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