Should Mikaela Shiffrin include more speed races in her schedule for the upcoming season after her historic, title-winning performance at high speed in the French Alps?
According to Shiffrin’s coach Mike Day, “everything is on the table.”
Hiffrin secured her fourth career overall World Cup title in an emphatic and unlikely manner because to her brilliant performances in the downhill and super-G races at the World Cup Finals in Courchevel, including an unexpected triumph and a timely second-place finish.
Should Shiffrin increase the number of speed races in her schedule for the upcoming season after her excellent performance in France?
This past season, Shiffrin swept to podium finishes in five of the ten speed races she competed in, including a morale-boosting second place at a Lenzerheide super-G. After the difficult and upsetting Beijing Olympics, the racing exhibition was uplifting. As a result of her continued success, she eventually defeated Petra Vlhova by 184 points to earn her fourth overall crystal globe. The 485 points gained in speed events were undoubtedly significant.
In reality, Shiffrin’s 485 points from 10 speed events during the 2021–22 World Cup season made up 32.5% of her total points, which was the greatest share of any of her four overall victories. In contrast, she won 529 points in speed competitions in 2018–19. However, it only made up 24% of her overall 2,204 points for the season.
The statistics, performances, and “wow factor” provide a strong case for the 27-year-old, 74-time World Cup champion to include more speed in her repertoire.
Despite her significant accomplishments at the season-ending downhill and super-G races in Courchevel, which she accomplished in a nation known for its delicious baguettes, Shiffrin asserts that tech events will likely continue to be her mainstay.
Shiffrin told Ski Racing Media shortly after receiving her fourth overall crystal globe in Meribel, France, “My focus wasn’t really on speed this year, but then it worked out very well for these last races and that was just awesome. Of course, winning is fun, but I typically find tech and super-G to be more consistent; downhill, on the other hand, is completely different and takes a lot longer.
Since I was performing better in terms of speed during these final races of the season, she continued, “It’s hard to say, but my instinct or propensity would really be to work a bit more with my GS and slalom.”
Kilde and Shiffrin exchanged looks
Shiffrin discussed the new “Eclipse” downhill track with boyfriend Aleksander Aamodt Kilde before her career-changing downhill victory in Courchevel on March 16 her first in the event since January 2020 and one of three in her career. The Norwegian speed expert was on the verge of winning his first downhill championship while she was vying for a second overall championship.
After Shiffrin set the fastest time in the second practice run, Kilde said, “We’ve been trying to analyze it together – I told her not to be satisfied with the speed she has because it’s a course where you can really tighten up the line and be smart in places because she is the best skier in the world. It’s enjoyable to watch her carry out his instructions, he continued.
Kilde, according to Shiffrin, “is the top, top, best at studying skiing on every level, but clearly at speed. It’s incredible to see him, talk about it, and I learn so lot.”
When the bell rings next season, it would seem to be an unavoidable argument that Shiffrin should battle harder in more downhills because Kilde is in his corner.
Speaking about downhill success, Shiffrin says, “It’s always different to talk about it, then accomplish it – I was able to do it this week in France, but that’s not always the case.”
The Need for Speed
It will be interesting to watch whether Shiffrin and the team decide to focus more on the downhill and super-G events in the future. However, the incredibly self-assured athlete is aware that one of her strongest trump cards is her uncanny capacity to deliver results quickly and with little effort.
“It’s fantastic to know that I have a decent pace in the speed events,” continues the dominant American ski racer.
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