Dave Ryding thinks Mikaela Shiffrin will continue to dominate women’s alpine skiing ahead of the new World Cup
Shiffrin has topped the overall standings five times in the last seven years and comes into the 2023/24 campaign as the back-to-back defending champion.
The American won her first of three consecutive titles in 2017 before Italy’s Federica Brignone ended her reign in 2020 and then Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova clinched her first overall victory in 2021.
But Shiffrin, who is also a two-time Olympic gold medallist, bounced back to reassert her position at the pinnacle of the sport in 2022 and 2023.
The World Cup begins this weekend with the giant slalom in Solden, Austria, and Ryding has tipped the 28-year-old to best her closest challengers and prevail once again.
Asked if anyone could deny Shiffrin a third consecutive triumph and sixth in total, Britain’s Ryding told Eurosport: “I don’t see it yet, unless [Sofia] Goggia becomes absolutely dominant in the speed, but she’s got to stay healthy first. I don’t see it, but you never know.
“Petra [Vlhova] has done it, she certainly knows what it takes, it just depends if she has been able to come back to that form she had two years ago.”
The 28-year-old admitted it was “pretty hard to comprehend” when she surpassed Stenmark before confirming she had decided to “come back and do it all over again”.
And speaking earlier this month, Shiffrin laid out her specific goals for the season ahead.
“I would like to maybe, ideally, improve my downhill performance a little bit more, but that doesn’t really mean winning,” she said. “It’s just improving the skills that I think have fundamental but can get better.
“Also, super-G, as well. And then with slalom and GS, the coolest thing for me last season was I felt a consistency with my skiing and my mentality that I never really felt before. So that was just exciting to go into each race feeling pretty excited to actually race.
“So hopefully, a big goal is to try and keep that mentality going.”
Ryding, 36, who will have to wait until the middle of November to get his campaign underway, also touched on the mental challenge of sustaining a World Cup challenge.
“A lot of the World Cup is also about how you keep it all going through the season, not physically, mentally as well,” Ryding added. “Halfway through, you really see who’s going to be the ones that are going to for the title.
“There’ll definitely be some new faces, there always is, which we need for the sport, but the good guys will still be the good guys.”
Stream the 2022-24 winter sports season on discovery+