*Originally published in March 2020. Updated Jan 10, 2023.
Two of the biggest names in ski racing history, Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin are constantly compared to see who really is the best female ski racer of the 21st century. In the light of Lindsey Vonn’s retirement a year ago, today we’re comparing their careers to decide once and for all, who really is the greatest skier. Leave a comment supporting who you think deserves the most hype!
*2023 UPDATE: With Shiffrin on the brink of surpassing Vonn’s record for most World Cup wins of any female alpine skier, we’re back to celebrate our favorite female racers and revisit the controversial debate of who is truly the best of the best!
Vonn started competing in 2000 at age 16 and skied for 19 seasons before retiring at age 34 in 2019 due to the many catastrophic injuries she sustained during her career. Most of Vonn’s successes were in downhill which was her primary event, although she also won in many of the other events.
Shiffrin had her first race in 2011 when she was 15 years old and now at 25* she still has many seasons ahead of her. Slalom is Shiffrin’s primary event; however, she has won in every other event as well.
*2023 UPDATE: Shiffrin is currently 27 and still skiing as competitively as ever.
Vonn has competed in four different Olympic Games: 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2018. She did not compete in 2014 due to injuries. She received a Gold (downhill) and a Bronze medal (super G) in 2010 and a Bronze medal (downhill) in 2018.
Shiffrin’s first Olympics was in 2014 when she took home Gold in slalom, and then in 2018, she won gold in giant slalom and silver in combined. So far she has never had an Olympic Games where she did not take home a Gold medal, and hopefully, she has more to come.
*2023 UPDATE: Shiffrin was favored for Gold in at least three of her six events at the 2022 Winter Olympics; however, she unexpectedly received DNFs (Did Not Finish) in slalom and giant slalom and unfortunately did not medal in her later races either.
FIS World Cup Results:
At the time of her retirement, Vonn had won a total of 82 World Cup races over her career, only four short of Ingemar Stenmark’s ultimate record of 86 wins. Vonn aimed to break Stenmark’s record before retiring, but she was forced to listen to her body and stop pushing through injuries. Vonn has won a total of eight World Championship Medals; including two Golds in downhill and super G in 2009.
Currently, Shiffrin has 66 World Cup wins to her name, 43 of which are in slalom, the most of any athlete in history. She also has seven World Championship Medals, five of which are Golds, four in slalom and one in super G.
*2023 UPDATE: Shiffrin has since reached 82 World Cup wins, making her tied with Vonn for the most World Cup wins of any female alpine skier, a record she is expected any day now. She also continues to hold the record of most slalom wins of any athlete, increasing it to 51 World Cup slalom races won.
Vonn was the first American woman to win a Gold medal in downhill ski racing at the 2010 Olympics. In addition, Vonn is one of only two women to have four overall World Cup championship titles. Other than Ingemar Stenmark’s 86 World Cup wins, Vonn has the most World Cup wins of any male or female ski racer. For years, she has been considered the most successful ski racer because of her aggressive skiing technique that sets her apart from other racers, but also made her more prone to injuries.
In the nine years she has been competing so far, Shiffrin has won 66 World Cup races, and she was the youngest racer to ever win 50. She is the only athlete in history to win races in all 6 ski racing events and she holds the most slalom wins of any athlete. Last year, Shiffrin broke the record for most World Cup wins in a single season, taking home 17, smashing the previous record of 14. Currently, she is the three time reigning overall World Cup champion and the four time slalom world champion.
*2023 UPDATE: Shiffrin now holds 82 World Cup wins, with 51 in slalom.
Obviously, both Vonn and Shiffrin are incredible skiers who deserve all of the hype and love that their fans shower them with. Vonn has forever been known as the point figure in the ski racing industry, but after smashing the record for most wins in a single season last year, Shiffrin’s following also exploded as she was crowned the “winningest skier of 2019” and possibly for many seasons to come. Vonn’s retirement prompted an outpouring of support for her and her incredible achievements over her career, but Shiffrin’s career is still continuing and she is likely to have many more seasons of success to come.
Who do you think is the best female ski racer? Lindsey Vonn set the standard for excellence and had 19 years of incredible record-breaking racing, but Mikaela Shiffrin is catching up fast and still has more time to grow and smash even more records.
*2023 UPDATE: Shriffrin currently holds the same record number of World Cup wins (82) as Vonn and could smash this record as early as today (Jan 10, 2023). Have the last two seasons of racing changed your thoughts on the best female ski racer of all time?