Adrian R. Huber |
Madrid (EFE) attraction of the Alpine Ski World Championships that will be held starting this Monday in the French resorts of Meribel and Courchevel; where she will be able to further polish her brilliant track record.
Shiffrin, 27, who for a few years has already won absolutely everything that can be won in alpine skiing, equaled the 82 victories of Vonn -Princess of Asturias Award for Sports in 2019- on January 8, at win the giant of Kranjska Gora (Slovenia); he improved his compatriot with two victories in a row in the events of that discipline held at Kronplatz (Italy, on the 24th and 25th); and she raised the record for wins in the women’s World Cup to 85 by also scoring the slalom of Spindleruv Mlyn (Czech Republic), two Saturdays ago.
Shiffrin, who was separated by 6 hundredths from Stenmark, to swell her myth
Six hundredths and the German Lena Dürr prevented a day later, on January 29, from equaling the absolute record (between men and women) of Stenmark, which divided its 86 victories between the slalom and the giant, a modality in which it added 46 victories. Another record, that of victories in the same discipline, was improved last season by the super-predator from Vail (Colorado), which in the meantime has raised to 52 her victories in the same modality: the slalom.
Unlike Stenmark -champion in the 1970s and 1980s-, who won only in technical tests (the super-giant did not yet exist at the time), Shiffrin, also a double Olympic champion and six-time world gold medalist, who is clearly advancing towards achieving her fifth Gran Bola de Cristal, is among the seven skiers who throughout history have celebrated victories in each and every one of the disciplines of the king of winter sports.
USA’s big star can match Christel Cranz’s medal record
The great star of the ‘US Team’, who captured his first world title, the first of the four he won in slalom, at the age of 17 -one before winning Olympic gold in that discipline-; He has eleven medals in intercontinental championships, so if he repeated the four he obtained two years ago in Cortina d’Ampezzo (Italy) he would equal another record, since he would emulate the German Christel Cranz, who captured a maximum of fifteen, the last of them in 1941.
Shiffrin has eleven victories so far this year, five of them in slalom and as many in giant, two disciplines in which she also leads the World Cup and in which she will start as a favorite in Meribel -home of the women’s events -. In the French Alps station, she will also try to make up for what happened last year at the Beijing Winter Games, where she made headlines, this time leaving China without an Olympic medal, after having competed in six evidence.
Kilde, Shiffrin’s boyfriend, and Odermattt, favorites in the men’s events
Her boyfriend, the Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, and the Swiss Marco Odermatt, the last winner and -like Shiffrin- outstanding leader of the World Cup, start off as candidates to compete for a good handful of medals; in some championships in which both will look for their first World Cup trophy.
Odermatt. 25 years old, he is a clear favorite in the giant, a discipline in which he is an Olympic champion, winner of the last Crystal Ball and leader of the current classification; and Kilde, 30 – second overall in the World Cup, which he won three seasons ago – is in relegation, a modality in which he has five of the seven victories he has celebrated this course.
The ‘intermediate’ discipline between the previous ones, the supergiant, will be more disputed. Odermatt also leads that classification, in which, as in the giant, he has four wins; in front of the two that Kilde carries.
But both in the descent and in the super-giant, the one who defends the titles he won in Cortina is the Austrian Vincent Kriechmayr.
The men’s slalom, the most open test
The slalom seems, by far, the most open of the men’s events; and proof of this is the result of Chamonix (France), on Saturday, the last test before the World Cups, in which the Swiss Ramon Zenhäusern -gold in Sierra Nevada of the 2015 Universiade- achieved his fifth victory, two years after the fourth And in which AJ Ginnis made history by becoming, with his second place, the first Greek in history to get on a podium in the World Cup.
Henrik Kristoffersen, triple winner of the Discipline Cup, who went off track in the decisive round, missed the opportunity to take the lead in the modality from his compatriot Lucas Braathen – absent in Chamonix due to appendicitis that makes him a Doubt for the World Cups. Both are favorite theorists, although it is another Norwegian, Sebastian Foss Solevaag, who defends a title that Frenchman Clement Noel, Olympic champion in Beijing, is also aiming for.
Quim Salarich, main Spanish player; Johan Clarey, in fear of a medal at 42
Spain will have its main option in the slalom and in the Catalan Quim Salarich, who last season, finishing fifth precisely in Courchevel, achieved the best result of a Spanish male in the previous 44 years: since the times of the unrepeatable Paco Fernández Ochoa, the only winter Olympic champion in the entire history of Spain, in the slalom at the Sapporo Games (Japan), in 1972.
«The objective is to finish in the first fifteen. At the beginning of the season we could think of a medal, with very high expectations, but we have lost numbers and the objective has become more of being in the top fifteen, “said Salarich to Efe, out of the second sleeve on Saturday in Chamonix for a single hundredth. “Anything that improves that position will make me happy,” added the skier from Vic (Barcelona).
Shiffrin arrives as the great star of alpine skiing in France, where the local fans also expect a lot from Alexis Pinturault, winner of the World Cup two seasons ago -and who literally runs at home in Courchevel-, and from Johan Clarey, Olympic downhill silver a year ago; that he is retiring this season and that, at the age of 42, by finishing second on the terrifying ‘Streif’ slope in Kitzbühel (Austria) he has just become the oldest skier to stand on a podium.
Petra Vlhova will question Shiffrin’s dominance in Meribel
The Slovakian Petra Vlhova, winner of the great Crystal Ball two seasons ago and second overall in this one, will discuss the triumph of the American super-champion in the technical tests. And the Italian Sofia Goggia will be, in theory, the woman to beat in the descent. Discipline in which, however, the current Olympic and world champion is the Swiss Corinne Suter; and in which she will also ask for letters from the Slovenian Ilka Stuhec.
Another Italian, Federica Brignone, the only woman of that nationality to have won the World Cup – three years ago – will also present a candidacy in various sections, as will the Norwegian Ragnhild Mowinkel. And Austria dreams of a recovery for Katharina Liensberger, who two years ago, in Cortina, won two golds in slalom and parallel; and a bronze, in giant. And that she left the Beijing Games with an Olympic team gold and a silver in the slalom.
Lara Guat, with a Spanish coach, to polish her outstanding track record
But the great winner of the last World Cups was the Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami -two golds (giant and super-G) and one bronze (relegation) in Cortina-, who a year ago crowned, with Olympic gold in ‘super’ and bronze in giant, a more than brilliant sports career that includes the triumph, in 2016, in the World Cup, in which he has 36 victories. The last one on January 15, in the supergiant Sankt Anton (Austria).
At the age of 31, Lara Gut has lived, for three years, a sports ‘second youth’ at the hands of the Spanish coach José Luis Alejo, who told Efe before leaving Granada for Meribel that he sees the Swiss as “very competitive and solid » and that they do not rule out «absolutely nothing».
Second in the super-G and giant classifications, the great lady of Swiss skiing also aspires to expand her outstanding record in the World Cups, which start this Monday with the women’s combined.
In which she defends the title, of course, Mikaela Shiffrin.