Mikaela Shiffrin clinches her first World Cup overall title before slalom event

Mikaela Shiffrin didn't even need to step into the starting gate at World Cup Finals to wrap up her first overall title.

No time for any sort of coronation, though, there's still some competition left and she's intent on putting on a show — just like she has all season.

Shiffrin secured the season-long title after Ilka Stuhec and her coach said the Slovenian skier won't compete in the slalom. Stuhec wasn't listed among the racers on the board Friday evening.

The 22-year-old Shiffrin joined quite an elite group in Phil Mahre, Tamara McKinney, Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn as the only American overall World Cup champions.

“It's crazy what she has achieved. Unbelievable,” said her manager, Kilian Albrecht. “I've never seen anyone be so focused.”

Citing exhaustion, Stuhec said Friday at the team event that she will skip the slalom race to prepare for the giant slalom on Sunday. Her private coach, Grega Kostomaj, confirmed Stuhec's decision.

Shiffrin already held a nearly insurmountable 198-point lead over Stuhec with two races left — a slalom Saturday and a giant slalom Sunday. Stuhec made a nice run at finals — winning the downhill and taking second in the super-G — to keep the competition close.

Hold anything back now? That's not Shiffrin's style.

“I want to have a really good performance the last two races, because it's in Aspen and so close to home, my home-state crowd,” Shiffrin recently said.

This sort of season doesn't come as a surprise to Shiffrin. She sets her ambitions high on purpose.

“I'm the person that says I want to be the very best in the world. I want to win five gold medals at the Olympics,” Shiffrin said. “It's probably not going to happen. I'm OK with that. But at least I'm not afraid to say it.”

Shiffrin gives off the vibe that she has no nerves on race day. This, after all, is a skier who chills out in snow banks waiting for her turn to take the course.

Make no mistake, though, there are anxieties.

“I have self-doubt — a lot of self-doubt,” she said. “It's really important to have that, because if you don't recognize your own limitations, you're never going to be able to work on those challenges and then exceed those limitations. That's something I really, truly believe. I'm the first to tell you what my weaknesses are and where I have to improve to win.”

She's been masterful this season, winning 11 races, including six in slalom, three in giant slalom along with one each in the Alpine combined and a city event.

Her ever-expanding list of accomplishments is impressive for such a young age: 31 World Cup wins, three straight world slalom titles, Olympic slalom gold medal and soon an overall crystal globe.

Even more, Shiffrin has already captured her fourth season-long slalom title and is still in contention for the giant slalom crown, trailing Tessa Worley of France by 80 points.

“She's such a talent, a really young skier who's been so good for so many years,” said Frida Hansdotter, who helped Sweden win the team event Friday. “It's important for the sport to have these stars and idols. She's really worth it.”

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