Shiffrin, who for most of her career specialized in the shorter, technical events of giant slalom and slalom, has dramatically branched out this season with stunning, impressive performances in the more daredevil super-G, which is considered a speed event along with the downhill.
Shiffrin won the first super-G of her career Dec. 2 in Alberta, Canada, and has since gone undefeated in the event, a win streak she extended to four races with her world championship victory last week. Shiffrin also leads the season-long World Cup point standings in giant slalom, slalom and super-G.
She has a nearly insurmountable lead in the chase for the women’s overall World Cup title, which she has won the last two seasons. Her 56 World Cup victories are the fifth most in history (they are 30 short of the record by Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden, who retired in 1989 a month before his 33rd birthday.)
Day said Shiffrin has competed in almost every race that her team of coaches, which includes Jeff Lackie and Shiffrin’s mother, Eileen, expected her to enter when the plan for 2018-19 was devised in October. Shiffrin has remained on schedule despite a minor back injury first sustained in December.
“We’re managing it,” Shiffrin said of the injury. “I think everybody races with some kind of pain.”
Overall, Shiffrin called this season the most enjoyable of her career and for that she credited a conversation she had last summer with Roger Federer. At functions where the two have appeared, Shiffrin said Federer told her that he wished he had spent more time during his prime relishing the victories instead of remaining doggedly focused on the next match or tournament.
Shiffrin has been known to remain fixated in a competitive bubble rather than commemorating her accomplishments as they occur.
Or, as Day said: “A year ago, we ranked the worst in the world when it came to celebrating victories.”