After her historic performance at high speed in the French Alps, where she won the world championship, the question is certain to arise:
should Mikaela Shiffrin include additional speed races in her schedule for the upcoming season?
Mikaela Shiffrin Gets Confidence back in Super-G
When asked about the idea, Shiffrin’s coach Mike Day said, “Everything is on the table.”
In a stunning and unlikely turn of events, Shiffrin won her fourth overall World Cup title thanks to her dominating performances in the downhill and super-G races at the World Cup Finals in Courchevel.
In light of her dominating performance in France, should Shiffrin add additional speed races to her schedule for the upcoming season?
An encouraging demonstration of competition after the difficult and stressful Beijing Olympics, Shiffrin finished on the podium in five of the ten speed races she entered this past season. She rode that wave of success to a fourth straight crystal globe victory, besting runner-up Petra Vlhova by 184 points. The 485 points obtained primarily from sprinting competitions were obviously essential.
In reality, Shiffrin won the greatest percentage of the total points (35%) for her four overall victories thanks to her 485 points in 10 speed races during the 2021-22 World Cup season. In 2018-2019, she had a total of 529 points in speed competitions. Even yet, that was only 24% of her total season score of 2,204.
There is strong evidence that the 27-year-old, 74-time World Cup winner should incorporate more pace into her game.
Although she had a breakout performance at the season-ending downhill and super-G races in Courchevel, France (a region known for its excellent baguettes), Shiffrin says that technical events will continue to be her mainstay.
Shiffrin told Ski Racing Media shortly after receiving her fourth overall crystal globe in Meribel, France, “my focus wasn’t really on speed this year, but then it worked out very well for these last events and that’s just wonderful.” “Winning is great, of course, but I’m usually more consistent in tech and super-G, and downhill is a whole different animal that requires a lot of extra time and effort.”
“It’s hard to say, but my instinct or propensity would actually be to work a bit more with my GS and slalom because I was succeeding more in speed over these last events of the season,” she continued.
The Collaborative Effort of Shiffrin and Kilde
Shiffrin discussed the new ‘Eclipse’ downhill course with her partner Aleksander Aamodt Kilde before she won a historic downhill race on March 16 in Courchevel. It was her first downhill victory since January 2020, and one of three in her career. The Norwegian speed expert was on the cusp of winning his first downhill title as she chased after a third overall victory.
After Shiffrin posted the fastest time in the second training run, Kilde said, “We’ve been trying to analyse it together.” “I told her not to be satisfied with the speed she has because it’s a course where you can really tighten up the line and be smart in places because she is the best skier in the world,” Kilde added. The manner I’d like to execute is fun to watch,” he said of her.
“He is brilliant at studying skiing on every level, but obviously in speed, he is the top, top, greatest, and it is amazing to see him, talk about it, and I learn so much from him,” Shiffrin says of Kilde.
Having Kilde on your side seems like an unbeatable argument for why Shiffrin should give more downhills a go when the next season starts.
When asked about her success on downhills, Shiffrin said, “It’s always different to talk about it, then do it – I was able to accomplish it this week in France, but that’s not always the case.”
The Opinions of Brignone
Third-place finisher this season Federica Brignone recommends that Mikaela follow her gut. But the Italian is also convinced that she has untapped ability on the slopes.
Brignone believes that if she focused on quickness, she would have more success. I think Mikaela needs to do what’s best for her and I think she needs to have fun; she has the ideal technique, the speed, and obviously isn’t afraid, so she can win.
Mike Day, Shiffrin’s Coach, Has Some Advice.
When asked about Mikaela’s impressive final performances of her championship season, her longtime coach Mike Day praised her for her tenacity and said that her play exemplified “the essence of a true champion.”
“To watch the way she came back from the experience in China to instantly come back on the podium in super-G in Lenzerheide, ski some reasonable technical events, and then to do what she did here (in France) in the speed races was just fantastic,” Day told Ski Racing Media.
When asked if more speed races might be added to Mikaela’s schedule for the upcoming season, Day answers that everything is possible.
“I think it’s great; it’s a lot of fun. Speed is fun when you’re good at it, but “not fun when you’re scared and don’t feel comfortable going fast,” as Shiffrin puts it.
There is no set plan at the moment, but Day did say, “We have to target the tracks that she has seen and then bring new ones that make sense.” “We prefer to go back to locations that we’ve been in speed from a comfort and experience level, so everything is on the table right now.”
Recently, Shiffrin has excelled at the downhills and super-G tour stops at Lake Louise, St. Moritz, and Cortina. When you factor in the time spent training, racing downhill requires a three- to four-day commitment.
Since “there is a give and take,” Day acknowledged that while “I would love to see her doing speed more consistently,” doing so would cut into her training for other events.
Urge for Quickness
It remains to be seen if Shiffrin and her crew decide to prioritise downhill and super-G events moving forward. The very self-assured sportswoman, on the other hand, is aware that her innate talent for achieving breakthroughs rapidly and with little in the way of before planning gives her a significant advantage.
American ski racing’s top dog continues, “It’s fantastic to know that I have a decent pace in the speed events.”