[UPDATED March 15, 2023]
SnowBrains assembled a list of the ten greatest alpine skiers of all time for our readers. Only one of these ten athletes is still active; the other nine have all retired. To find a numerical measure, we created the ranking by the number of World Cup wins in alpine disciplines.
In reverse order and starting with number nine as we have a tie (ladies first):
9) TIE: Renate Götschl
Nickname: “Wildsau” (Engl.: wild pig after saying about the Cortina World Cup “You have to be a little wild pig, the course can handle it”)
World Cup Wins: 46 wins
Fun Fact: Renate was immortalized with a wax figure at the famous Madame Tussauds in Vienna for her total of 110 World Cup podiums, which are the third most women’s World Cup podiums (most podiums for women goes to Lindsey Vonn).
9) TIE: Marc Girardelli
Nickname: “The Renegade”
World Cup Wins: 46 wins
Fun Fact: Even though Marc was born in Austria, he competed for the Duchy of Luxembourg after a falling out with Austrian coaches and was coached by his father for long parts of his career. After retiring from racing, he invested in an indoor ski center in Germany and later started a ski clothing line and a retro ski series. He is the majority shareholder in the company that operates Bansko ski resort in Bulgaria and an honorary citizen of Bansko.
8) Alberto Tomba
Nickname: “Tomba la Bomba”
World Cup Wins: 50 wins
Fun Fact: Tall and handsome, Alberto always liked to play up his playboy image in the media. When he won his gold medal in the Calgary Olympics, he asked his dad for a red Ferrari live on TV and asked out German ice skater and gold medal winner Katarina Witt (who famously brushed him off).
7) Hermann Maier
Nickname: “The Herminator”
World Cup Wins: 54 wins
Fun Fact: Hermann Maier has beaten the odds more than once. When he was 15, he was told he was too small to become a successful alpine skier, and he did not debut on the World Cup circuit until he was 23, which is comparably old for an alpine skier. During the 1998 Nagano Olympics, he had a shocking crash during the downhill race, smashing through both b-nets and landing on his head, but came back three days later to win the gold medal in super-G. Then in 2001, Hermann suffered an almost career-ending motorbike accident and nearly had his leg amputated. Doctors saved the leg with extensive reconstructive surgery. Despite missing the 2002 Olympics, he made a successful World Cup comeback in 2003, winning 13 more World Cups until his retirement in 2009.
6) Verena Schneider
World Cup Wins: 55 wins
Fun Facts: This one is not fun but rather sad. Verena, better known by her nickname Vreni, like Hermann Maier, had a late start to the World Cup circuit at age 20. She had to quit school and ski racing at 13 when her mother tragically died of cancer and was forced to look after the household. Vreni is the fourth most successful female skier of all time but probably one of the quietest and unassuming skiers. She also won three Olympic Gold medals and three World Cup Championships. She is the most successful Swiss skier of all time and was awarded “Swiss Sportswoman of the Century.” She retired in 1995. She briefly tried a career as a singer but returned to her passion of skiing and now runs a ski school in her home region Glarus.
5) Annemarie Moser-Pröll
Nickname: “La Pröll” (by the French media)
World Cup Wins: 62 wins
Fun Fact: Annemarie was the most successful female skier of her time. She held the record of most successful female skier from her retirement in 1980 for 35 years until Lindsey Vonn broke it in 2015. Annemarie had a winning percentage of 34.5%, which Lindsey, with 19%, could not beat. Aside from skiing, Annemarie also raced Porsche cars. She was voted Austrian Sportswoman of the Century and World Female Wintersports Athlete of the Century.
4) Marcel Hirscher
Nickname: The Flying Dutchman (a family joke, his mom is Dutch)
World Cup Wins: 67 wins
Fun Facts: Marcel now owns a ski manufacturing business, a joint venture with Red Bull called Van Deer. The ‘van’ in the name is a nod to his Dutch heritage, and ‘deer’ in German means ‘Hirsch’. Marcel won an incredible eight successive World Cup Championships during his career, making him the most successful champion by that measure.
3) Lindsey Vonn
Nickname: Don Don
World Cup Wins: 82 wins
Fun Facts: Lindsey’s goal was to beat Ingemar Stenmark, but she was forced to retire in 2019 after many injuries. She stated that she was finding it harder and harder to bounce back from injuries and retired at 34. Nevertheless, she is the most successful American skier in history. She also holds the record for most female World Cup podiums, having placed 137 times. Lindsey was married for four years to US skier Thomas Vonn. After the divorce, she dated US golfer Tiger Woods for two years.
2) Ingemar Stenmark
Nickname: “The Silent Swede”
World Cup Wins: 86 wins
Fun Facts: All Ingemar’s World Cup victories were in either slalom (40) or giant slalom (46). He competed for 16 seasons and podiumed a total of 155 times, making him the best race skier by this metric too. Along with tennis player Björn Borg, he is the most prominent Swedish athlete.
1) Mikaela Shiffrin
Nickname: ‘Miki’, ‘La Shiffrin’, her friends call her ‘Sir-Naps-A-Lot’
World Cup Wins: 87 wins
Fun Facts: Mikaela debuted the World Cup series at just 16 years old. In the 11 years since her debut, Mikaela has won not only 87 world cup titles but is also the only athlete ever to win across all six World Cup disciplines (slalom, parallel slalom, giant slalom, super-G, downhill, alpine combined). Shiffrin is the youngest Olympic Slalom Winner, she was also the youngest athlete ever to win 50 World Cups at less than 24 years old. Further she holds the record for most wins in Slalom at currently 53 World Cup victories. She is the only skier on this list who is still active and is currently only 28 years old, so she still has many years of racing ahead of her.
Mikaela Shiffrin is the only active skier on this list and just recently moved to the number 1 position. While we try our best to update this ranking regularly, we apologize if data is not always the most current. Please check when this article was last updated.