Mikaela Shiffrin made history yet again in Saturday’s World Championship slalom. Despite suffering from a chest infection that left her short of breath while skiing, Shiffrin dug deep to clinch her third medal of the 2019 World Championships, and her fourth consecutive World Championships slalom title. Shiffrin became the first racer in history, male or female, to defend a World Championship title in four successive World Championships.
Suffering from a chest cold, skiing on snow that she’d had trouble finding her bearings on in recent days and in third place halfway through her best event, the 23-year-old turned in a superb second run, coming from behind to take her fourth consecutive world title in women’s slalom on the slopes of Are with a combined time of 1 minute, 57.05 seconds. She finished almost a second ahead of Anna Swenn Larsson from Sweden, who took silver. Petra Vlhova from Slovakia came in third.
Shiffrin admitted earlier in the week that she had been struggling to get “a response from the surface” that had been pounded by rain due to unseasonably warm temperatures earlier in the week. A U.S. Ski Team spokeswoman added that Shiffrin was “low energy” as a result of her cold. In fact, Shiffrin was coughing so hard before her second run that, her mother told her she was under no obligation to ski. Her response? “At what point do you say I can’t do 60 seconds of skiing?”
With the win on Saturday, Shiffrin ties Ted Ligety for the most world championships by an American alpine skier with five. She also ties Ligety with seven career world championships medals for second on the list. Among Americans, only Lindsey Vonn with eight has more. Saturday’s win also makes Shiffrin one of just three U.S. women to win two world titles in one year, joining Vonn (2009) and Andrea Mead-Lawrence (1952).
Shiffrin had been sharing the record of three-straight wins with Swedish skier Ingemar Stenmark and Americans Ted Ligety and Bode Miller. The only athlete to hold four gold medals (non-consecutive) in a single event is Christl Cranz, a German skier who competed in the 1930s.