Alpine skiing-Greatness is in the eye of beholder, says Shiffrin

Alpine Skiing - FIS Alpine Ski World Cup - Women's Slalom - Kronplatz, Italy - January 25, 2023 Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. celebrates on the podium after winning REUTERS/Lisa Leutner

(Reuters) - Mikaela Shiffrin may be closing in on Ingemar Stenmark's record for the most Alpine skiing World Cup wins but said on Wednesday that she might never eclipse the Swede when it comes to who is the greatest of all-time.

A day after capturing her 83rd career win in Kronplatz to surpass American compatriot Lindsey Vonn's record for the most women's World Cup victories, Shiffrin turned her sights on Stenmark's mark of 86.

After completing the giant slalom double at the Italian resort on Wednesday, she sits just two victories short of the absolute record.

With three more wins Shiffrin would statistically become the most successful Alpine skier ever, but for the 27-year-old, the title of greatest will remain open to debate.

"Take the number 83 and technically yes that's more than any other woman but there will always be a huge fan base that believes that Lindsey is the greatest female skier of all-time," said Shiffrin, during a Zoom call following her 84th win.

"People say undisputed but I say it is disputable.

"If you know anything about ski racing at all and even if they don't they know about Ingemar Stenmark.

"I don't think that is something that I can surpass, I don't know if I ever will."

An all-rounder and the only skier with wins in all six Alpine skiing disciplines, Shiffrin is enjoying one of her best ever seasons on the World Cup, with 10 victories in 21 starts.

Riding that momentum, she could pull level with Stenmark as early as this weekend with slaloms scheduled for Saturday and Sunday in Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic, where she made her World Cup debut as a 15-year-old in 2011.

The slalom is Shiffrin's signature event with 51 wins, the most for any Alpine skier in any discipline.

"Technically, it is possible," said Shiffrin. "We'll see if I can put the energy on my slalom skis for two more races."

Tired but upbeat Shiffrin has pursued the record with a lightness and freedom.

She has spoken openly about her struggles to come to terms with the passing of her father Jeff, who died unexpectedly in February 2020 aged 65 after an accident at home.

Racing has aided in the healing process, with the double Olympic champion explaining that the record chase has helped her put things in perspective.

"There are bigger things that happen in life, I've experienced it," offered a reflective Shiffrin. "I know first hand how worse it can get and just realising all that I don't care if I win another race.

"I mean I want to, I want to ski well, I'm not done.

"Of course I want to win another race but if it doesn't happen boo-hoo.

"Better to just enjoy what I'm doing now and hopefully it is meaningful to me and somebody out there but it's just not the end of the world and I guess I realise that more now."

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis)

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