Does getting a record 87th World Cup win make Mikaela Shiffrin the greatest ski racer of all time?
Shiffrin doesn't think so, despite congratulations pouring in from the likes of tennis stars Roger Federer and Iga Swiatek, actress Kate Winslet, and fellow skiing standouts Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller.
In fact, Shiffrin laughs off the G.O.A.T. talk.
"Because all I can really see in my mind is an image of a baby goat, or like a fainting goat. That's what comes in my head," Shiffrin said after surpassing Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark as the winningest ski racer in the 56-year-history of Alpine skiing's World Cup.
“That image is sort of scarred into my mind and the first thing I think about when I hear people say ‘G.O.A.T.’, I just kind of laugh.”
She adds that the ‘greatest’ label doesn’t belong to just one skier.
“After all these years racing and getting to this point now, I realize no matter what I accomplish, people root for who they want to win – for whatever reason,” she said.
“It could be something that doesn’t have anything to do with me, or doesn’t have anything to do with Ingemar, or Lindsey, or Marcel (Hirscher), or Bode, or whoever. It is a personal thing, and that’s what is so beautiful about sport.”
Shiffrin won Saturday's slalom in Are in Stenmark's native Sweden to break the 34-year-old record, which is comparable with a tennis player earning a 25th major singles title to surpass Australian great Margaret Court, who for five decades has held the record of 24 titles.
Another comparison underlines Shiffrin's dominance of her sport. In the time since her first victory on December 20, 2012, Shiffrin won more than twice as many World Cup races as the entire Austria women’s ski team, which has managed 43 victories.
With Shiffrin turning 28 Monday, the American is bound to add to her tally of 87 and other milestones will come her way.
"I think she can win more than 100," Stenmark said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.
"100 or more," was also the prediction of Austrian former slalom specialist Marlies Raich, one of Shiffrin's early idols.
Best marks are also on the cards for Shiffrin when it comes to the number of crystal globes – the award for winning the season discipline or overall title.
By winning the overall, slalom and GS titles this season, Shiffrin has extended her collection to 15 globes – five short of Vonn's 20.
Shiffrin, with seven slalom globes, is one short of Vonn and Stenmark, who each had eight titles in a single discipline — Vonn in downhill, Stenmark in both slalom and GS.
Also, Shiffrin’s five overall titles rank her one behind the women’s record of six, set by Annemarie Moser-Proell in the 1970s.
Across genders, Shiffrin still needs three more to match another Austrian standout, Marcel Hirscher, who racked up eight men’s overall titles in a row from 2012-19.
Away from World Cup racing, two-time Olympic champion Shiffrin has nine gold medals and 17 in total from major championships. She won’t be able to add to those for nearly two more years, with the 2025 world championships in Saalbach, Austria, and the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics next up.
Despite setting many of the sport’s records, Shiffrin said she still feels “that anticipation, that nervousness, that I want to race.”
“For me that is a sign I have no lack of motivation,” she said. “It’s the skiing that I want to do. Every day I wake up and want to do it, again and again. That is not done yet, it’s stronger than ever.”
Eric Willemsen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/eWilmedia
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