SOLDEU, Andorra (AP) — After capping her record-setting season with career win 88, Mikaela Shiffrin was asked one question over and over again – and she couldn't really answer it.
“What do you think will come next? How many victories?,” Johan Eliasch, president of the International Ski and Snowboard Federation, wanted to know after handing Shiffrin her fifth big crystal globe, the prize for winning the World Cup overall title.
“I don't have a guess at how many,” Shiffrin replied. “Sometimes a part of me feels like that's always my last victory. I hope not, I keep heading for more.”
A week after breaking the record of Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark, the American extended the all-time best mark for most career wins to 88 by winning the last race of the season, a giant slalom at the World Cup Finals on Sunday.
Norway's Thea Louise Stjernesund was 0.06 seconds behind in second place and Valerie Grenier of Mont-Tremblant, Que., was third, 0.20 seconds back.
“I’m so happy to finish on the podium,” said Grenier. “Today was the last opportunity this season and after winning earlier in the year, I really wanted to prove that I could do it again.
"I knew how close we all were heading into the second run, so I had to ski fast and not make too many mistakes to keep my position."
Shiffrin's 21st career win in the discipline marked yet another milestone as it moved her past Swiss skier Vreni Schneider, who had 20 World Cup GS victories between the mid-80s and mid-90s. The American has won seven of the last eight events and took the GS world title last month.
The overall record, between men and women, is held by Stenmark, who won 46 giant slaloms in the 1970s and 80s.
The “what’s next?” question also came from her boyfriend and World Cup downhill champion, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who conducted a course-side interview after the race.
“I don't know, you guys tell me. Just keep moving right along,” said Shiffrin, who also secured the slalom and GS titles this season.
After Kilde asked her about plans to improve for next season, Shiffrin quipped: “We can discuss that later, in private.”
Shiffrin also set a personal best of 2,206 World Cup points from 31 starts this season, two points more than her tally from 2018-19, when she competed in 26 races.
Only one skier secured more points in a single season: Slovenian great Tina Maze ended her 2012-13 campaign on 2,414.
Later, Shiffrin posed for photos with men's overall champion Marco Odermatt, who set the men's record of 2,042 points. It's the first World Cup season in which both the women's and men's overall champion finished on more than 2,000 points.
Sunday's result also marked Shiffrin's record 138th career World Cup podium, moving her one ahead of former teammate Lindsey Vonn's mark of 137.
But for Shiffrin, her personal favorite record came nine years ago.
“Honestly, I think probably being the youngest Olympic slalom champion. That was really the only record that I actually ever wanted, like really shot for,” said Shiffrin, who was 18 when she won her first Olympic gold at the 2014 Sochi Games.
“It happened quite some time ago, and I’m still motivated today, I still had that nervous feeling up there. I was so nervous at the start ... because you want to do well. And it doesn’t matter about records, it’s just you want to do well.”
With the sun beaming down on the Avet course, Shiffrin held on to her a first-run lead to edge Stjernesund, who earned her first career podium.
Three of the top seven ranked racers did not finish their first runs, as Petra Vlhova, who won Saturday’s slalom, Federica Brignone and Olympic champion Sara Hector all missed a gate.
Two-time former world champion Tessa Worley placed 11th in what she said would be the last race of her career. The French GS specialist has won 16 races and three season titles, most recently last year.
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With files from The Canadian Press.
The Associated Press