ASPEN, Colo. — This is what happens when Mikaela Shiffrin gets really, really mad: She crushes the field and breaks records.
No one could catch Shiffrin as she used an uncharacteristic fall the day before as fuel to power her down the hill.
Shrugging off the disappointment, Shiffrin turned in two blistering runs to win a World Cup slalom by 3.07 seconds Saturday, the largest margin of victory in the history of the women’s discipline.
Know what? She wants to win by that margin again. Watch out field.
“From here on out, I’m going to be searching for another 3-second margin of victory,” Shiffrin said. “I know very well it might never happen again, because sometimes the stars have to align.”
The reigning Olympic and world champion flew through the technical course and finished in a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 39.81 seconds. Veronika Velez Zuzulova of Slovakia was second, and Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter finished third.
Shiffrin surpassed the previous slalom record for margin of victory held by Florence Steurer. The French standout won by three seconds during a slalom race in 1968.
“It’s one of the more cool records that I’ll ever have broken,” Shiffrin said.
But there were no post-race celebrations. Shiffrin doesn’t do celebrations. Doesn’t even know how.
“Someone is going to have to get out there and put some sticks in my arms like a puppet,” she joked.
On the podium after the race, the 20-year-old from nearby Eagle-Vail called it a “special day.”
And it certainly made up for Friday’s frustration. Shiffrin was in command of a giant slalom race when she crashed near the finish. She buried her face in the snow as the crowd went silent.
That night, she went back to her hotel and watched the footage of her fall.
“When I saw myself fall, I was thinking, ‘What were you doing?’ I don’t fall very often,” Shiffrin said. “To do it in a race, it’s like a one-in-a-million chance. It was one of those painful things.
“Sometimes that disappointment can hurt you or drive you. I made the decision I was going to let it fuel me.”
She was nervous before the first run, so nervous she said she forgot how to breathe as she tried to relax.
“I thought that was a natural instinct?” Shiffrin said.
Those nerves didn’t carry over to the course as she built up a big first-run advantage of 1.38 seconds. On her second run, she was all business to become the first American woman to win a slalom race at Aspen.
And it’s not like her competitors skied all that bad.
“For sure, I’m really happy with my result,” Zuzulova said. “I’m really happy about my day today.”
In a post-race news conference, Shiffrin was asked point-blank why she’s such a good skier. She offered some insight.
“A lot of technical free-skiing while a lot of my friends were out jumping off cliffs and powder skiing,” Shiffrin said. “It’s taken me a little while to bring more athleticism into my skiing because I was so robotic for a while. I definitely had the technical side down early.”
The winning side, too.
Shiffrin has won four straight World Cup slalom events dating to last season. It’s the longest streak in slalom by a female skier since Marlies Schild of Austria captured five straight in 2011-12.
The retired Schild also happens to be one of Shiffrin’s childhood idols.
No surprise Shiffrin races a lot like Schild. The resemblance is easy to see for Bernadette Schild, the younger sister of Marlies.
“She skis similar to the way my sister used to ski when she was really good,” said Bernadette Schild, who went out early in her first run, ending her day. “She’s just sending it.”
It was a tough day for the typically strong Austrian contingent as the nation’s top three racers veered off course. Schild was at a loss to explain why.
“The course wasn’t that hard, actually,” she said. “Things like that happen.”
This race was scheduled to be held in Levi, Finland, but was relocated because of warm weather there. Aspen will host another slalom race Sunday and Shiffrin will be the overwhelming favorite.
“I don’t think they’ll let me get away with three seconds ever again,” Shiffrin said. “They’re going to fight even harder. I have to turn it up a notch, too.”