A year is a long time in ski racing

In Zagreb in 2018, Mikaela Shiffrin won her 38th World Cup win. A year later and Shiffrin had moved her tally of World Cup wins to over 50 wins. There is a feeling that many of the racers are just racing to be best of the rest. At 23 years of age, American Mikaela Shiffrin is fast approaching the record number of wins held by Ingemar Stenmark, 86 race wins on the World Cup. the fact that Shiffrin has won across all six disciplines is all the more spectacular.

At the time of writing she has started 147 races on the World Cup, podiumed in 74 races and won 52 of them. Impressive stats. Add to that three World Championship Gold medals (the last three Slalom World Championships) and two Winter Olympic Gold medals (both Slalom) and you have an outstanding athlete. In 2018 Shiffrin became the first racer to win 15 World Cup races in the year. In 2018 she scored 1773 World Cup points on her way to winning the Overall Crystal Globe for the second time, she also has six Slalom Globes and holds the most number of wins in the discipline, 40.

And she has only been racing on the World Cup since 2011!

But is Shiffrin a class apart from the rest of the racers on the Women's tour? She is undoubtably the leading light of her era but there are racers that have raised their game to match Shiffrin. Petra Vlhova is also only 23 and after finishing runner up to Shiffrin in the first five slalom's of the season, she took top spot in the Flachau Night Slalom, one of the real highlights of races on the Women's Tour. Vlhova did herself a huge vote of confidence in beating Shiffrin in a head to head race in the final of the Oslo City Event on New Years day. Shiffrin may have won the race in Zagreb but it was Vlhova who took the win in Flachau and by a decent margin, 0.97. This was the Slovakian's sixth win on the world cup, five in Slalom and one in Giant Slalom - small fry compared to Shiffrin's tally of wins.

How the likes of Frida Hansdotter, Wendy Holdener and Bernadette Schild and others must rue the fact that Shiffrin and Vlhova are so young. Hansdotter (33) has four career wins, Holdener (25) has three career wins and Schild (29) is still waiting to join her sister Marlies on the winners rostrum. Yet when you see the girls all in the finish area after a race, they are so happy for each others success. In another era and generation all three would probably have more wins to their names.

And of the next generation, who is there to watch out for? Katharina Liensberger from Austria is just 21 and in Flachau scored her first World Cup podium in coming third behind... yes Vlhova and Shiffrin! Then there is the other Katharina, Katharina Truppe, 22, and with a best result on the World Cup of 5th in Semmering. There are a new generation of racers coming through the system and starting to challenge.

One thing for sure is that Shiffrin and Vlhova may still be young, but if they rest on their laurels, the rest of the field will soon be chomping at their heels. Women's slalom racing is fast becoming an exciting discipline in its own right.

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