like a Nascar driver classically trained at the Bolshoi Ballet
January 5, 2019 1:12 PM   Subscribe

Alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin may be the most dominant current athlete in any sport. With her win in Zagreb today in the slalom, her signature event, she has 52 career wins win FIS World Cup events, including 37 in the slalom — at the age of 23. She is the only skier to have won events in six different FIS disciplines: the classic five of slalom, giant slalom, super G, downhill, and combined; plus parallel slalom. She loves to nap.

Zagreb marks her seventh consecutive win in slalom events, stretching back to the 2017-18 season. She has five slalom and two overall World Cup titles; in the current season, just shy of the halfway point, she has a 446-point lead in the overall standings over her nearest competitor (1114 vs. 668). She has won the World Championship slalom all three times she has competed, and has three Olympic medals: 2014, gold in slalom (Shiffrin runs at 0:47 and 5:52); 2018, gold in giant slalom and silver in combined.

Here she is in a November 2018 interview, along with fellow skier Nina O'Brien.

A competitive alpine skiing primer: Alpine ski runs come in four types, each with its own specifications: downhill, super giant slalom (super G), giant slalom, and slalom. They can loosely be thought of as occupying a continuum in that order, ranging from downhill, having the gates furthest apart and the broadest turns, to slalom, with the gates most closely spaced and the tightest turns. Slalom gates are a single pole; all others use gates with two poles.

Downhill and super G are considered "speed" events, with the race consisting of only a single run by each racer. Giant slalom and slalom are "technical" events, with the results based on the aggregate time of two runs. Additionally, there is a combined event, based on the aggregate time on one downhill (or super G) course and one slalom. An older combined format used the aggregate of three runs — two slalom and one downhill — but this is generally not seen today.

The parallel slalom involves head-to-head competition by two racers on side-by-side slalom courses, although they use the two-pole gates of other events. The event is run in a single-elimination tournament format.
posted by DevilsAdvocate (7 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
To be that dominant at both technical and speed events - from slalom to downhill! - is breathtaking.
posted by lalochezia at 3:13 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]

I was going to be a whiny buzz-kill and say that the title of "Most dominant current athlete in any sport" could be applied to Katie Ledecky as well, only to see that the article calls her the "Katie Ledecky of skiing". So, uh, as you were.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 3:14 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]

GOD we have SO MUCH IN COMMON!!! I, too, love to nap.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:27 PM on January 5 [10 favorites]

I love to ski, and I putt putt down the mountain and avoid black diamond runs and then I watch Shiffrin and her ilk on television and I think I'm going mach 4.
posted by vrakatar at 4:24 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]

Yep, hike up and watch a slalom race sometime, not considered a "speed" event, I've got zooming pretty darned fast on perfect soft snow occasionally and can not imagine, and they have to make turns faster than most of us can blink.

Looked at a few of the videos of Ms Shiffrin, she sure makes it look easy, no hard movements, just one turn after another, smooth, calm. Really looks like fun.
posted by sammyo at 6:07 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]

Long-Term Effects of Knee Injuries in Former Ski Racers:
To our knowledge this is the first study on long-term effects of knee injuries in former ski racers. In this cohort of 26–42-year-old former ski racers the 33% of the 275 former skiers had knee symptoms that substantially affected their knee-related quality of every day life, and slight majority (52%) of those who sustained an ACL- had injury had fair or poor knee scores. The common assumption that former ski racers have bad knees seems to be true.

The data by Pujol et al. [16] showed that elite-level alpine skiing had a very high incidence of primary ACL injury, bilateral ACL injuries (30.5%), and re-injuries (19%). Both Pujol and Haida found that he incidence of ACL rupture was related to the performance level, where better skiers injure they ACL- more often. In our data 49% of the former ski racers had at least one ACL injury and 23% had had more than one ACL rupture and among skiers that had raced longer than 5 years ACL injury was more common than among those who had skied less than 4 years. Majority of the former racers had suffered at least one knee injury that and 60% had undergone at least one knee surgery. We were not able to estimate incidences due to multi-nationality and retrospective nature of the study. The literature is inconsistent when it comes to gender differences regarding the incidence of ACL injury in competitive alpine skiers but several studies showed results that ACL injuries occur in a younger age in female athletes than in their male counterparts [7,17].

In this study all the female subjects had suffered ACL-injury [4,7,16-19]. The present study reflects the consequences of an ACL injury in athletes, with results being consistent with those from other long-term studies on ACL injury in other sports [13,14,20]. The already high prevalence of functional limitations in conjunction with pain among these young former ski racers, now at ages 26–42 years, is alarming. Surprisingly skiers without ACL-injury had worse scores than former athletes in the reference group. For many of these former skiers pain and ADL functional limitations can be expected to progress over years, and the need for a knee arthroplasty may arise in many of the former skiers when taken into consideration their ages today.
Damn the knees, full speed ahead!
posted by cenoxo at 5:40 AM on January 6

And we just are nearing the end of Lindsey Vonn's extraordinary career. This back to back run of greatness by US Skiers is really un-commented upon in the more general sports press.
posted by indianbadger1 at 10:39 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]

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