ARE, Sweden (Reuters) – American skier Mikaela Shiffrin was heading for a record-equalling 86th World Cup victory after leading the first leg of a women’s giant slalom in Are by more than half a second on Friday.
Shiffrin, who started seventh, was 0.58 of a second faster than 15th starting Canadian Valerie Grenier down the Swedish resort’s Stortloppsbacken slope.
Austria’s Franziska Gritsch, 16th out of the start hut on a sunny morning, was in third place and 0.93 behind Shiffrin according to provisional results.
Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark, who raced in the 1970s and 1980s, holds the all-time record of 86 wins — all in slalom or giant slalom.
Shiffrin, who will be 28 on Monday, took her 85th win on Jan. 28 in the Czech resort of Spindleruv Mlyn and clinched her fifth overall women’s World Cup globe in Kvitfjell, Norway, this month.
She broke compatriot Lindsey Vonn’s women’s record of 82 World Cup wins in January.
“I felt very good with this run and the surface is amazing so it just feels really good to ski on the track right now,” Shiffrin told Eurosport television.
The world champion expected quite a different course to be set for the second run.
“They can really set the gates wherever they want and its really good to ski, so its going to require a lot of pushing,” she added.
“I think all of the other women now see how hard you can go, how aggressive you can ski, so everybody’s going to be taking it up a notch… everybody wants to win so it’s certainly not over yet.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Toby Davis)