Mikaela Shiffrin, the youngest slalom champion in Olympic alpine skiing history, has said she will enter the super-G competition at December’s FIS Alpine World Cup in Val d'Isère, France. In an interview with the New York Times, Shiffrin, who won a gold medal at the 2012 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, said she hopes to branch out from slalom into other areas, in the hopes of winning an overall title in her fourth World Cup season.
“If I ski to my potential in slalom and G.S. and hopefully super-G, then the overall will be a possibility,” she said. To win the overall trophy, Shiffrin must regularly make it to the podium in the slalom and at least one other event, including the giant slalom, the super-G, downhill, and super combined.
Success could imply a confrontation with American Lindsey Vonn, one of the fastest female skiers in history, who won medals in the downhill and super-G at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Ten months after a harrowing tumble that left her seriously injured at the 2013 World Cup, Vonn was training in Austria last month. At the time, she told reporters she would concentrate her efforts on speed racing, including the super-G.
While Roland Pfeifer, the United States ski team’s women’s technical coach, attributes some of Shiffrin’s success to her ability to specialize, he is confident that she can be just as big a threat in speed skiing.
“Definitely she can beat Vonn, especially in the technical super-Gs like Beaver Creek,” he told the Times. “If Mikaela didn’t think she had a chance to win, we would not start racing super-G now.”
Another strategy could be to enter the giant slalom, since it is the discipline most similar to slalom. The Times notes that Austrian Marcel Hirscher, who has won the overall title for the last three years, has still confined himself mostly to slalom and giant slalom competitions.