‘She deserves it more than anyone else’
“She is a complete skier. She has a good technique, but it’s not only that. She has physical strength, she has a strong head – those things combined make her so good.
“And she’s smart too. She doesn’t have to race at 100%’s speed. She knows that the others have to go beyond their ability (to beat her) and that they will make some mistakes.”
Shiffrin has often hailed Stenmark as an inspiration and someone who set the standards for today’s racers. The Alpine icon is humbled by her words.
“She seems to know who I am anyway,” he said.
“It’s a bit incomprehensible to me. It’s been so long since I quit.”
The Swedish technical specialist is hesitant to compare similarities between himself and the new record holder, but agrees it takes a different level of drive to get to 86 World Cup wins and beyond.
“To reach the top and be able to keep winning so many competitions, you have to try to find a new motivation, new goals. And that’s what’s hard when you’ve been around for a while and when you’ve won a lot,” Stenmark said.
“She is starting to get – and is already – good at super-G. And she can do downhill races well too, so perhaps that’s a new motivation for her.”
Shiffrin’s 87 World Cup victories are spread across slalom, giant slalom, downhill, super-G, combined, parallel, and city events. Stenmark’s 86 wins came in 46 giant slaloms and 40 slaloms.
He does not remember when in the early 1980s he passed Austria’s 62-time World Cup winner Annemarie Moser-Proell to take the record. But he does feel for Shiffrin who now has to find new goals to reach, new records to break – even though he is sure she will do that.
“It is difficult,” Stenmark said.