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Record-Breaking Skier Mikaela Shiffrin Wins Best Female Athlete at 2023 ESPYS: ‘It’s Been a Long Journey’

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Mikaela Shiffrin is taking home yet another award after becoming the most-winning World Cup alpine skier in history earlier this year.

The 27-year-old skier — who clinched her 87th victory this March, breaking Ingemar Stenmark record of 86 total wins — was crowned the best athlete in women’s sports during the ESPY Awards.

“I just honestly have a whole stack of people to thank for getting me to where I am today,” she said. “Through failure and success, it’s been a long journey and it’s not over yet. but I really have to say thank you to my family. I really have to say thank you to my friends.”

The athlete also discussed the importance of inspiring the next generation of athletes.

“This season was absolutely incredible and there was a lot of talk about records and it got me thinking, why is a record actually important?” she questioned.

“And I just feel like it’s not important to break records and reset records. It’s important to set tones for the next generation and to inspire them,” she continued, adding that she felt an “overwhelming” inspiration from the athletes gathered at the ESPYs.

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Shiffrin won the award over soccer player Sophia Smith, Grand Slam-winning tennis star Iga Świątek and WNBA champion A’ja Wilson.

After her record breaking win in March, Shiffrin talked to PEOPLE and said that the 87 wins were “just kind of a really big number” to her.

“As cool as it is to say that I’ve won 87 World Cup races, it’s almost meaningless. It doesn’t say anything about the journey I’ve been on it. It just doesn’t say anything about who I am as a person,” said Shiffrin.

Looking back on the last 10 years of her career, she said she doesn’t think a number does justice to her process. “I know everything that I’ve experienced in life and since I started racing World Cup, I know the whole process and everything that’s gone into it, and that really can’t be summed up with a number,” she told PEOPLE.

More important to Shiffrin than “resetting” records, is resetting what she thought was possible. “I think it’s more that it was something we all thought was not possible in ski racing,” she says.

“I didn’t believe it was possible. I still believe it shouldn’t have happened, and I don’t understand why it did, besides the fact that I’ve skied well enough for 87 races to win it. But why me, why now, why period, I don’t really have an answer for any of those things.”

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The 2023 ESPY Awards is broadcasting live on ABC from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

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