(Reuters) – American Mikaela Shiffrin became the women’s all-time World Cup leader in slalom wins, surpassing childhood heroine Marlies Schild with her 36th career victory in Semmering, Austria, on Saturday.
“Marlies for me is always going to be the best,” Shiffrin, who also became the first ski racer in history to win 15 World Cup races in a single calendar year, told reporters.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without being able to watch her… yeah, (the record) is incredible, but she deserves that spot in my mind. If I can inspire any young athlete as much as (Schild) inspired me, then I did my job in this sport.”
Austria’s Schild, won 35 times before retiring in 2014.
Starting fifth in the first run, the 23-year-old Shiffrin took a 0.48-second lead over Petra Vlhova, who won Slovakia’s first World Cup giant slalom on Friday.
Vlhova skied a strong second run to take the lead, which forced Shiffrin to take some risks as the final starter on the softening track.
“First run felt quite good, second run was more of a battle,” Shiffrin said of her 51st World Cup victory.
“I was trying to not risk everything but making speed on every turn. I had a couple mistakes, a couple of moments where I was fighting for my life, but it was a good fight,” added the Pyeongchang Olympic giant slalom gold medallist.
Vlhova settled for her fifth second-place result in slalom this season, 0.29 seconds back, while Wendy Holdener of Switzerland was third with a gap of 0.38.
Shiffrin extended her World Cup lead to 466 points over Vlhova. She also leads the World Cup slalom and super-G standings and is ranked third in the giant slalom, and ninth in the downhill standings.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; editing by Clare Fallon)