FLACHAU, Austria (AP) — Not known for exuberant victory celebrations, Mikaela Shiffrin let out a loud scream this time after crossing the finish line.
Shiffrin’s victory in a night slalom Tuesday was unlike most of her previous 67 World Cup wins.
In the last slalom before next month’s world championships, Shiffrin ended a year-long victory drought in her strongest discipline and earned her 100th World Cup podium.
“I felt, like, inspired, I just felt alive. I was pushing. It’s hard to explain. I wish I could explain,” said the American, who was away from the circuit for much of 2020 because of the death of her father and a back injury.
Shiffrin is the 2014 Olympic gold medalist and four-time world champion, but she last triumphed in slalom in December 2019.
On Tuesday, she held on to her opening-run lead and beat Katharina Liensberger by 0.19 seconds following a near-flawless final run, denying the Austrian her maiden career win, and the Austrian team a first slalom win since November 2014.
Liensberger is the only skier to finish in the top three of all five slaloms so far this season.
“So much energy has been building up, it all, like, went out on that run,” said Shiffrin. “What can I say? That’s cool.”
After dominating the circuit for three straight seasons, Shiffrin lost her overall title to Federica Brignone last year.
The American has been gradually working her way back after her 10-month break. She won her first race since her return at a giant slalom in France in December before adding the second on Tuesday.
“All of the pieces that go into race day came together tonight. It’s amazing, but it doesn’t mean it’s fixed yet,” she said. “Tonight was really, really good.”
The result made Shiffrin the eighth skier in the 54-year-long history of the World Cup to reach 100 podium finishes.
On the women’s side, only Lindsey Vonn (137), Annemarie Moser-Proell (114), Renate Goetschl (110) and Vreni Schneider (101) have more top-three finishes than Shiffrin.
“I definitely wasn’t thinking about records today,” the American said. “I just wanted to ski well. This slope kind of tripped me up the last couple of years and I just wanted to ski, like, I don’t know, strong and inspired. It’s really, really fun tonight.”
Wendy Holdener was 0.43 seconds behind in third, extending her record to 25 podiums without winning a race in the slalom discipline.
Overall World Cup leader Petra Vlhova, who won three of the previous four slaloms this season, placed fourth.