Mikaela Shiffrin races away from rival Petra Vlhova, wins overall World Cup title

COURCHEVEL, France -- Mikaela Shiffrin won skiing's overall World Cup title for the fourth time Thursday, fueled by speed races that turned her expected duel with Petra Vlhová into a runaway success.

Shiffrin finished second in the super-G at the World Cup finals -- one day after a surprise victory in downhill -- to put more pressure on Vlhová for the overall title.

The Slovakian skier had to finish no worse than seventh to stop Shiffrin from extending her lead in the standings beyond 200 points with only their specialty slalom and giant slalom races left over the weekend.

The defending champion finished 17th, outside the top 15 scoring places, to trail Shiffrin by 236 points.

Shiffrin sat in the snow watching her rival's run, shielding her eyes behind sunglasses, and smiled in her moment of victory. Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway won the race and was the first to greet Shiffrin with a long hug.

A season that risked being defined by zero medals from six events at the Beijing Winter Olympics instead ended in triumph in the French Alps.

"It's been some high moments this season, and it's been some really difficult moments as well," Shiffrin said. "Ending it on a high [and] finding some really nice moments on the last races, that's really important and very special."

Shiffrin's boyfriend, Norwegian skier Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, was at the top of the slope preparing to race in the men's super-G. He is the champion in that discipline.

Shiffrin earned her fourth giant crystal globe trophy after winning three straight overall titles from 2017 to 2019 and one month after struggling at the Beijing Games.

American skier Lindsey Vonn also won four overall titles in her career, trailing behind only Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Pröll's six titles in the 1970s.

In the super-G, Shiffrin finished 0.05 seconds behind Mowinckel. Michelle Gisin of Switzerland was third, 0.13 behind.

The season-long super-G title had already been secured by Federica Brignone of Italy, who placed 19th on Thursday.

Olympic champion Lara Gut-Behrami missed a gate and did not finish.

Shiffrin and Vlhová started March tied in the standings with eight races left -- five in their favored technical disciplines and three in speed, which both have traditionally raced only selectively.

Those speed races proved decisive. Shiffrin was runner-up in a super-G in Switzerland and then opened the World Cup Finals on Wednesday with her third career victory in downhill.

In those same speed races, Vlhová posted results of 18th, 16th and 17th. She also competed in back-to-back downhills on Feb. 26-27 that Shiffrin skipped.

The rest paid off for Shiffrin. Vlhová placed 16th and 29th in those races to tie the American in the standings instead of taking an expected lead.