US skiing star Mikaela Shiffrin hadn’t anticipated moving into the greatest-of-all-time conversation.
Instead, the record-breaking skier thought that fellow American Lindsey Vonn would have been the athlete to challenge Ingemar Stenmark’s landmark of 86 World Cup wins.
“Lindsey was the one who got the closest and that we all thought was going to break it, and I never considered myself as part of a threat to that record,” Shiffrin said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday.
Shiffrin broke the overall World Cup wins record – that had been set 34 years ago by skiing legend Stenmark – earlier this month after winning the slalom in Åre, Sweden. That was the same resort where she triumphed in her first ever World Cup race back in December 2012.
The 28-year-old American is now the sport’s all-time winningest athlete, male or female – after earlier surpassing Vonn for the most all-time wins by a woman in January.
Shiffrin’s compatriot, who reached 83 World Cup wins and was the women’s record holder before Shiffrin overtook her, tweeted, “Congrats!! Dominating,” after the skier drew level with Stenmark.
Shiffrin’s partner and Norwegian skier Aleksander Aamodt Kilde also praised the Colorado native for her achievement.
Speaking to CNN’s Coy Wire earlier this month, the men’s Alpine Ski World Cup downhill winner said: “She is the goat in the skiing world but she is also the goat in relationships – so for me it is amazing.”
The 30-year-old Norwegian added: “I am just lucky to be able to share my experiences with her and I think she’s feeling the same and it makes it easier for us to be calm in the process and understanding each other’s way of handling different situations.”
‘Pretty hard to comprehend’
Speaking on her season, Shiffrin reflected: “I did not expect that I would be resetting the all-time wins record, honestly, in my career, let alone this season.
“It’s not that it’s a surprise, it’s just I feel like I was never supposed to be there.”
Instead, Shiffrin explained that her original goal was to win the overall World Cup title this season – which she did – and to win just five races – she ended up winning 14.
Speaking after she won her 87th World Cup race, the two-time Olympic gold medalist said: “Pretty hard to comprehend. My brother and sister-in-law are here. I didn’t know they were coming so that makes it so special.”
Shiffrin added: “To the whole team and all the people who have helped me this whole season and whole career, all these people reaching out now after all these years, it’s pretty incredible. I just want to say thank you for that.”
Breaking Stenmark’s record capped off a remarkable season for Shiffrin given that she did not pick up a single medal from five races at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and failed to finish in three of them.
On Sunday, Shiffrin capped off her Alpine Ski season with a record-extending 88th World Cup victory, 21st giant slalom win, and 138th podium appearance.
With Sunday’s appearance on the podium, Shiffrin passed Vonn’s women’s podium record, and left her 17 behind Swedish skiing legend Ingemar Stenmark’s all-time mark of 155 podiums
The American’s remarkable season also saw her top skiing’s prize money standings – for both men and women – with Shiffrin earning $1.05 million.
CNN’s Ben Church contributed to this report.