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Mikaela Shiffrin becomes the all-time winningest woman alpine skier with 83rd win

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

American Alpine ski star Mikaela Shiffrin won a race today in Italy. And afterwards, on the victory stand, someone placed a gold crown on her head. Well, that is fitting because this one was special. It was Shiffrin's 83rd career World Cup win. It broke a record held by fellow American Lindsey Vonn and now means Shiffrin has won more races than any woman in history. NPR's Tom Goldman reports.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Go.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Go. Go. Go. Go. Go.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Go.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Go. Go. Go. Go. Go.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Wearing a blue helmet, blue race suit, on red skis, Mikaela Shiffrin exploded out of the start gate for her second run of today's giant slalom race at Kronplatz in Italy. She was the last skier to go because she led after the first run. She said later she was a bit nervous because she hates waiting. But Shiffrin also said when it was time to go, everything went quiet until the end.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: Mikaela Shiffrin.

GOLDMAN: Shiffrin won by a fairly large margin in the giant slalom - 45 hundredths of a second. Moments after the win, the young woman who once put a sticker on her helmet bearing the words of her late father - be nice; think first; have fun - was gracious in her comments. The first thing she could think of after placing herself in the record books was to applaud the workers who prepared the race course.

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MIKAELA SHIFFRIN: And it's the best conditions we had in the race all season. And that's because they were here all night, sweeping the course off and making it so wonderful for us to ski. So thank you for that.

GOLDMAN: This crowning moment for Shiffrin is as stark an example as any of the wild swings in sports stardom. A year ago, she was being called a loser in the darker corners of social media.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: Oh, my God.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6: Unbelievable. It's happened again.

GOLDMAN: Amidst huge expectations and still grieving her dad's death in 2020, Shiffrin imploded at the 2022 Winter Olympics. She didn't finish in three races and came away with no medals. But she earned respect for her thoughtful, honest and, at times, humorous reaction to what happened. Today Shiffrin said, quote, "it's exciting. I'm happy. I'm proud." She now needs to win four more races to break the all-time record, woman or man, held by Sweden's Ingemar Stenmark with 86. She's expected to blow by that soon enough. And there's the possibility that Shiffrin, only 27 and someone who's been lucky to avoid major injury, could win 100 races before her career's over. Tom Goldman, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF ELTON JOHN AND BRITNEY SPEARS SONG, "HOLD ME CLOSER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.