SEMMERING, Austria – Mikaela Shiffrin became the most successful slalom skier in the 52-year history of the World Cup on Saturday in the final of 2018.
The American built a big first row on Petra Vlhova from Slovakia by 0.29 seconds and Wendy Holdener from Switzerland by 0.38 for her 36th slalom victory.
Shiffrin had previously shared the record with Marlies Raich. In the competition as Marlies Schild, the Austrian won 35 times before retiring in 2014.
"She's my biggest idol besides Bode Miller," Shiffrin said. "When I was young, I wanted to be the best skier in the world, I've always watched Marlies, she was a legend, she's the best slalom skier for me and I would not be here without her, for me, she'll have that record forever . "
Only the Swedish Ingemar Stenmark has won more World Cup slaloms. He won the win at 40 events between 1
With his victory on Saturday, Shiffrin was also the first skier to win 15 World Cup races in a calendar year Austria, which has won 14 times in 2018.
Shiffrin and Hirscher beat Stenmark's four-decade-old record. While Shiffrin participated in 27 competitions this year, Stenmark had only 19 races in 1979 to collect a total of 13 victories when the World Cup did not include any Super G races, Parallel Slaloms or City events.
The only World Cup Slalom Shiffrin did not win in 2018, when they failed to reach the final in Switzerland in January before the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.
In South Korea, she surprisingly missed a medal after having finished fourth in her strongest discipline. However, she regained her dominance quickly and was unbeaten since the resumption of the World Cup in March.
Shiffrin has won eleven of the last 12 and 27 of the past 33 World Cup slaloms in which she participated.
"It's a bit unbelievable in the truest sense of the word," said 23-year-old Shiffrin about her achievements in 2018, including Olympic gold in the Giant Slalom and her second World Championship title in a row.
Shiffrin already had in Saturday's race She left her mark and built a great lead in the first run, a day after her atypical performance in the Giant Slalom, she lost a lead in the first round and finished fifth.
Friday's result, however, was not in her head when she entered the start gate for Saturday's race.
"I try not to seek revenge because it can be a difficult balance for me," she said. "It's better to ski for inspiration."
Shiffrin had a flawless run to lead Vlhova by 0.48 seconds and Olympic champion Frida Hansdotter of Sweden by 0.53. The fourth-placed Holdener was 0.96 behind and was the only other skier within a second of Shiffrin.
Nina Haver-Loeseth from Norway had an unpleasant crash shortly before the end of the race when she lost her skis and slipped through several goals. She seemed to have injured her left knee and later hobbled out on ski poles from the target area.
In a tense second run on a weakened track, Hansdotter lost his balance and drove halfway down the track before Vlhova Holdener laid aside the lead.
The last starter, Shiffrin, was not clean and quickly lost a tenth of a second on Vlhova. In the steep middle section, she gained some time to increase her lead to 0.53, enough to overcome a difficult lower section of the Magic Mountain course and achieve her 51st career win.
"It was a really big fight," said Shiffrin. "I tried not to risk everything, but to drive at every turn, it was a good fight."
One day after celebrating her first win in the Giant Slalom, Vlhova became runner-up for Shiffrin in the slalom this season for the fifth time.
"The second heat was a real fight and I wanted to accelerate," said the Slovakian skier. "We have a lot of fans from Slovakia here, so it was a really great weekend for me."
The World Cup continues with a city event for men and women on New Year's Day in Oslo.