US teen Shiffrin eyes yet another slalom record

ERIC WILLEMSEN (Associated Press)
The Associated Press

LIENZ, Austria (AP) -- American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin has a chance to end her magnificent year by setting yet another record in Sunday's final race of 2013.

At 18 years, 291 days, Shiffrin can become the youngest female skier to win five World Cup slaloms in one calendar year. The record is held by retired Croatian standout Janica Kostelic, who was 67 days older when she captured five slalom victories in 2000.

''I didn't even know that, I guess now I am thinking about that,'' Shiffrin told The Associated Press, adding that setting records ''is definitely part of my goals.''

Shiffrin, who has been dominating the slalom circuit this year by winning both the world title and the World Cup discipline title, has five career wins in total.

After her maiden victory last year, Shiffrin won in Zagreb, Croatia; Flachau, Austria; and Lenzerheide, Switzerland in early 2013 before winning the first slalom of the current season in Levi, Finland, last month.

By winning Sunday, Shiffrin would join a group of six women who have won at least five slaloms in one year. Marlies Schild has achieved the feat four times - and the Austrian is chasing a record 35th career slalom win.

Shiffrin is returning to the course of her first ever World Cup podium finish after placing third here in 2011.

''Last time I was in Lienz, I didn't have a great GS race but I had a pretty good slalom race,'' the American said. ''I am just really taking it day by day ... I feel like I always leave something on the hill and I don't want to do that anymore.''

Coming off a third-place finish in Saturday's giant slalom for her second podium this month, Shiffrin admitted she finds it increasingly difficult to focus on two different disciplines.

''It's a little bit harder to be able to focus on both and, at the same time, one after the other,'' the American said. ''I am just trying to put my best out (in GS) but still save some energy.''

''Especially today, I have a podium and I am really excited but I am trying to stay calm because I have a race tomorrow too. I am just trying to figure that out a little bit.''

A win Sunday would put Shiffrin level with Kristina Koznick on the all-time American list with six career slalom wins each. Only Tamara McKinney with nine has more victories.

The technical races at the Sochi Olympics are less than two months away but Shiffrin said that chasing medals was not yet on her mind.

''It's just one GS and a couple of slaloms left but I'll focus just on the next race,'' said Shiffrin, who will have another weekend of GS and slalom racing coming up in Maribor, Slovenia, on Feb 1-2. ''That's like a mini-Olympics for ski racing, right before the Olympics, so I've got to charge there.''

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