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Vonn, Shiffrin make the rounds at ESPYs

Lindsey Vonn won another Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award on Wednesday night sharing the Best Moment Award with the Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade and New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski.

All three athletes retired during the past sports year and were honored for how they finished their storied careers.

Wade returned to the Heat for his final NBA season and finished his career with a triple-double. Gronk won Super Bowl LIII with the Pats and called it a career. And Vonn, of course, retired with a bronze medal in the downhill during the 2019 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Are, Sweden.

“It’s an amazing honor to be up here with these two incredible athletes, incredibly old also,” Vonn said. “In my 19-year career, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but I’m happy that I’ve broken more records than bones — just about. I want to thank everyone who supported me, who taught me and helped me along the way, especially my family my friends, and, of course, my incredible boyfriend, P.K. (Subban)

“I think what ski racing has taught me is that nothing is more powerful than self-belief. No matter what setback I faced, I always believed I could come back. So for everyone out there, whatever your struggles are, always believe in yourself and never give up.”

Vonn finished with 82 career World Cup wins, second only to Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark. She won four World Cup championships (2008-2010 and 2012), Olympic gold (2010), worlds gold (twice in 2009) and was able to win 23 times on the tour after a devastating knee injury during the 2013 Worlds in Schladming, Austria.

While Vonn joked on Twitter, “How are we going to split this trophy,” the good news is that she has already won two ESPYs for Best Female Athlete in 2010 and 2011.

Morgan bests Mikaela

Speaking of which, Mikaela Shiffrin was up for Best Female Athlete. Alex Morgan of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team won the honor, voted upon by fans.

Taking nothing away from the World Cup champs, it was an uphill battle for Shiffrin to win the award despite having completed one of the most spectacular seasons in the history of Alpine skiing.

Shiffrin won 17 times on the World Cup, a new record, and won at worlds in the super-G and slalom. In the latter, she became the first athlete in the history of the event to four-peat. She won her third World Cup championship in a row and added globes in super-G, giant slalom, and slalom.

Morgan and Shiffrin were seated close to each other during the ceremony and the skier offered her congratulations.

The red carpet

Since it was an awards show, there was a lot of chatter about fashion. As always, Vonn and Shiffrin looked spectacular.

According to People magazine, Vonn was wearing a crystal-and-sequin Yousef Al-Jasmi gown with Rene Caovilla stilettos.

Meanwhile, Shiffrin had her entire fashion lineup on Instagram.

To sum, Shiffrin was wearing a Pronovias dress and Stuart Weitzman shoes and clutch.

Mikaela Shiffrin off to the ESPYs

So after you fly with the U.S. Air Force, what does one do with the rest of the summer?

Well, if you’re Mikaela Shiffrin, you’re still keeping busy. While it is the offseason, there really is no offseason. But it’s worth noting that she’s been in the news.

Hitting the red carpet

Shiffrin is up for an ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly, what an awkward acronym) as the year’s Best Female Athlete.

Shiffrin’s up for the honor with UConn basketball’s Breanna Stewart, USA Soccer’s Alex Morgan and gymnast Simone Biles. While it’s an honor to be be nominated, she has no chance.

Please don’t shoot the messenger. It’s a fan vote, and with the World Cup leading up to Wednesday’s ESPYs, whoever was the nominee from the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team is going to be the winner.

In this case, it’s Morgan in a landslide.

Trivia: The only World Cup skier to win Best Female Athlete was shockingly Lindsey Vonn in both 2010 and 2011.

U-S-A … U-S-A

Although Shiffrin really should win the ESPY — she had a season for the ages — that doesn’t mean she doesn’t like herself some soccer.

Shiffrin has been tweeting enthusiastically throughout the women’s Word Cup.

After the USA’s win against France, she whooped it up over Megan Rapinoe.

And Morgan, whom she’ll see at the ESPYs, also seems to be a buddy.

Italy 2026

Last week, we also got the news that Milan and Cortina in Italy will host the 2026 Olympics. Shiffrin’s reaction was telling in her tweet when she crossed her fingers that she hopes to be at those games.

As spectacular as she is — sitting at 60 World Cup wins, five FIS Alpine World Ski Championships titles, three World Cup championships and a partridge in a pear tree — she knows that seven years is a long time.

After all, she’ll be 30 for the 2026 Olympics. (Does that qualify her for social security?) Not that we would look ahead, but Cortina is one of Shiffrin’s favorite speed venues — it’s hosted no tech events during her career — including a super-G win last season.

Back to work

While the ESPYs, the soccer World Cup and the 2026 Olympics are all fun, there’s still the little matter of the upcoming season.

It’s less than four months to the opening race of the season. Shiffrin is already posting about her newfound ability to pull-ups.

Mikaela Shiffrin flies with US Air Force Thunderbirds

Mikaela Shiffrin likes to go fast, even when she’s not skiing on the World Cup circuit or at the Olympics.

On Tuesday, the Olympic gold medalist, World Cup overall champion and Vail Valley native met up with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

Through her Instagram story, Shiffrin details the whole experience with lots of excitement and emojis.

“You don’t really have perspective for how fast you’re going until you’re soaring through the clouds,” she wrote on her Insta story, from the clouds.

“It was incredible,” she said on her story, “the most incredible thing I’ve ever experienced.”

Her instructor was also impressed. Major Jason Markzon said “she killed it,” adding that they hit 9Gs in the Thunderbird.

Follow Shiffrin on Instagram at @mikaelashiffrin.

Is the IOC getting something right or just lucky?

Have we lived long enough to see the International Olympic Committee learn some common sense?

The candidates to host the 2026 Winter Olympics are Italy (a combination of Milan and and Cortina) and Sweden (Stockholm and Are). Shockingly enough, these are countries and sites with actual winter weather and built-in venues for winter sports.

It shouldn’t seem so shocking, but the finalists for 2022 were Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, not exactly snow spots, with the former earning hosting duties.

Perhaps, it’s not so much the IOC having a come-to-Jesus moment, but the rest of the world just giving up on on the profligacy of both the Summer and Winter Olympics. Athens (2004) and Rio de Janeiro (2016) have left pools of debt and white elephants of athletic complexes for the summer cycle, and Tokyo 2020 seems headed down that path.

In the winter, it was unquestionably Sochi (2014). The Russians’ first foray into the winter festival destroyed all the parameters of financial normalcy, whose largesse may only be surpassed by the glories that will be Beijing 2022.

Of course, the Winter Games have evolved with the addition of sports like snowboarding, freestyle skiing and short-track speed skating to the point where old ski towns like Lake Placid, New York, (1932 and 1980) or Lillehammer, Norway, (1994) can no longer host.

Hence you have combination bids like Vancouver and Whistler in British Columbia in 2010, the blob that was Sochi (the coastal and mountain clusters) and the 2026 bids.

Taking a pass

But it’s still worth noting who dropped out of the bidding for the upcoming 2022 and 2026 Olympics.

For 2022, Olso and Stockholm both said, “no thanks.” Austria and Italy considered a joint bid as did Quebec and Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the host city back in 1984. All of them said no mas for 2022.

Before 2026 got narrowed down to Italy and Sweden, Calgary, Alberta, (1988 host), Erzurum, Turkey (not happening), Sapporo, Japan (1972 host), Graz, Austria, and Sion, Switzerland also begged off.

Think about that. Norway, Sweden, and Finland (Helsinki also briefly considered 2022) invented Nordic sports and said no. The country known as “The Great White North” bowed out twice. Austria twice, Italy and Switzerland once, all slightly mountainous, said nope.

Three different former host cities said, “Too rich for our blood.” (I’m sentimental and would have liked to Sarajevo host, no matter how unpractical.)

By sheer luck, it seems we have two well-qualified bids for 2026.

Alpine at the Olympics

As an added bonus, both the Italian and Swedish bids have true Alpine venues — Cortina and Are. They are regular World Cup sites and have hosted the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships (Cortina, 1956 and 2021, and Are, 2007 and 2019).

How novel. Sochi’s snow was wretched. However, well-intentioned Pyeongchang, South Korea, was, it was a wind tunnel. When a slalom course needs to be shortened because of wind as was the case last winter, it’s not a freak occurrence. And I can hardly wait for Beijing.

But the Olympics in Cortina? (The Italian bid leads its Swedish counterpart) Lindsey Vonn might come out of retirement. We’re kidding, though she had 12 World Cup wins there. Mikaela Shiffrin? She can ski tech anywhere, and she won in super-G in Cortina last winter.

Keep up the good work, IOC.

Lindsey Vonn undergoes surgery on left knee at Steadman Clinic in Vail

When Lindsey Vonn crashed in November at Copper Mountain while training, the winningest female skier in World Cup historycompletely tore her LCL on her left knee. While she pushed through the pain to compete with a brace on her knee, she ultimately had to call it a career after the world championships in February.

“Obviously skiing with a brace this season didn’t go as well as I had hoped,” Vonn wrote in an Instagram post.

On Monday, Vonn underwent surgery to repair her knee with Dr. Robert LaPrade at the Steadman Clinic in Vail.

Despite the injury, Vonn won a bronze medal in the downhill at her final World Championships in February.

“Unfortunately this isn’t an April fools post … but surgery went well and I’m now recovering at home,” Vonn wrote in an Instagram post of her lying in the hospital bed.

Vonn said she put off surgery so that she could fulfill other responsibilities, including hosting her annual Lindsey Vonn Foundation fundraiser in Vail at the end of March in Vail.

“I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to do so much despite all of my injuries and what not, but now all the doors are open and I can really hunker down, work hard and hopefully accomplish something much greater than I did in ski racing,” she said at the fundraiser.

Lindsey Vonn’s got next: Legendary ski racer has big plans

VAIL — Lindsey Vonn’s historic ski-racing career was defined not by how many times she fell, but how many times she got back up. The end result of that tenacity? Three Olympic medals, eight World Championships medals and 82 World Cup victories — the most of any female skier.

Nearly two months into her retirement from World Cup competition, Vonn’s work ethic hasn’t wavered, but her focus has.

“I just think that ski racing is a small part of my life and my career,” Vonn said before her foundation’s fundraiser in Vail on March 29. “I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to do so much despite all of my injuries and what not, but now all the doors are open and I can really hunker down, work hard and hopefully accomplish something much greater than I did in ski racing.”

‘Ready to move on’

Similar to her dedicated preparation before entering starting gates across the world for so many years, Vonn and her close circle of family and friends have been preparing for this moment for years, she said.

With more time and availability away from ski racing, Vonn is certainly staying busy while focusing on a balance of work and play — including doing ski ballet with Jonny Moseley on Vail Mountain.

Vonn has partnered with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Under Armour on the Bend Boundaries Project Rock Collection. When she signed on, the current line was already mostly designed, but she’s looking forward to being more hands-on moving forward.

“The next line I’m working closely with him and the design team to make sure the products are perfect,” Vonn said. “Obviously he’s not a girl, so he can’t wear test it, so that’s kind of my job.”

Currently, the duo have Under Armour’s top 10 selling items.

At the Lindsey Vonn Foundation annual fundraiser — an ’80s prom-themed affair — Johnson recorded a special message to the crowd and offered up a live auction item featuring a visit to set of “Jungle Cruise,” his new Disney film based off the amusement park ride of the same name.

Video courtesy of David V Gonzales

In 2018, the Lindsey Vonn Foundation helped more than 30 girls pursue their dreams through over $83,000 in scholarships for education, sports and enrichment programs. The foundation is led by executive director Laura Kildow, Vonn’s sister. At the foundation’s fundraiser in Vail, scholarship winner and up-and-coming ice skater Caroline Pellerito of Skating Club of Vail took the stage with Vonn.

Her mission with the foundation is to build out its curriculum in the next three years and work toward a long-term plan, helping more girls build confidence and reach their goals.

Vonn is also working on a memoir coming out soon and a beauty line with partner Chase Ink.

“We have a lot of things in the works. Some of it you’ll hear about soon; some of it will come out in a while,” she said, “but I’m definitely staying busy.”

Acting classes are also on the to-do list for Vonn.

“I really want to kick some ass in whatever it is I do — some sort of action movie,” she said.

With projects and connections across the country, Vonn will continue to spend some time in Vail and is having her surgery done here on April 1.

“I think it’s important for me to find a good balance because I tend to be a workaholic, and I could fill up every single day if I wanted to,” she said. “I also want to spend time with P.K. and my family, and the dogs.”

P.K. is P.K. Subban, Vonn’s boyfriend and a star defenseman for the Nashville Predators. When asked if she’ll ever take up singing while in Nashville, Vonn said “definitely not.” Her time now revolves around someone else’s competitive schedule.

“It just depends on P.K.’s schedule because I want to be there for him and hopefully he makes it to the Stanley Cup Finals and wins the cup,” she said.

While Vonn finished her ski racing career four wins shy of the 86 World Cup victories claimed by the great Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden, the sport is officially in her rearview.

“It’s weird, it’s already so far in the back of my mind, and that’s how it should be,” she said. “If I was still thinking about it then that wouldn’t be healthy. I’ve accepted what I did in my career and I’m ready to move on.”

Assistant editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and rleonhart@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

Vail’s Bill Jensen named to U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame

Bill Jensen and his crew step back from a completed task and look at it, feeling the warmth of a job done well. Then they apply Jensen’s 5 percent rule.

“If we throw another 5 percent of energy and time at a task, will it help?” Jensen says, explaining his philosophy.

The answer, as you likely already know, is “Yes.”

Jensen has changed his zip code a dozen and a half times in his 45-year ski industry career but never his work ethic.

Next weekend he will be in Park City, Utah — one of the few resorts he has not run — to be inducted into the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. Jensen will be joined by elite American athletes, as well as other industry giants.

Jensen’s induction into the national Hall of Fame follows his 2010 induction into the Colorado Snowsports Museum and Hall of Fame, located in Vail.

“I am humbled to be inducted into the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame,” Jensen said. “I have been fortunate to work with amazing and dedicated people my entire career, and I share this Hall of Fame honor with each of them.”

“To be inducted into the Hall of Fame with all these elite international athletes and industry leaders is not something I thought could ever happen to me. It seems like just a few weeks ago that I started as a lift operator. I cannot imagine that there’s another industry I could love this much,” Jensen said.

45 years and still going strong

Jensen started his ski industry career swinging lift chairs at California’s Mammoth Mountain. He was moving up in the industry when then-Vail Resorts President Andy Daly spotted Jensen and hired him in 1997 to run Breckenridge.

Jensen spent 11 years as a Vail Resorts executive before heading to Intrawest and later joining Telluride resort owner Chuck Horning as a partner.

Occasionally Jensen looks back over his career, not for nostalgia although there is some of that, but to pull from his vast experience and the experience of some of his mentors such as Bill Healy, founder of Mount Bachelor; Dave McCoy, founder of Mammoth; and Michael Berry, with whom Jensen worked at Sun Valley and the National Ski Areas Association.

Through it all, Jensen and wife Cheryl have kept a home in Vail.

The national Hall of Fame induction ceremony is part of the Snowsport History Celebration, happening April 4-6 in Park City.

The eight inductees include Jensen; the late Tom Sims, inventor of the skiboard; the late Don Henderson, a pioneer of ski racing; Tom Kelly, the leading spokesperson for U.S. Ski & Snowboard, Bode Miller, a five-time Olympian; Andrew Weibrecht, a two-time Olympian; Kristen Ulmer, the first female extreme skier; and Hilary Engisch-Klein, a world dominating freestyle skier.

The new inductees will bring the total U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame members to 433.

So is Mikaela Shiffrin the GOAT yet?

Mikaela Shiffrin is back stateside making the rounds of major media with “The Today Show” and “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.”

In a non-Olympic year, American media is getting a slight glimpse that Shiffrin’s pretty good at this skiing thing.

Seriously, this has become a running joke in our office: “Mikaela Shiffrin: Good at skiing,” has been the catch phrase here when I’m trying to describe her winning yet another race — 17 World Cups and twice at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.

I really hesitate to pronounce something or someone the GOAT — greatest of all time. Historical perspective is important. Tom Brady is the GOAT quarterback of this era because the rules of the NFL have changed so much that comparisons with Johny Unitas, Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana are impossible.

My bet is that Brady wouldn’t survive a season during the 1970s NFL the way quarterbacks could be hit during that era.

Greatest season?

That said, 19 wins, including the championships, obliterated the record held by Switzerland’s Vreni Schneider (14 on the World Cup or 15 including a gold at worlds in Vail during the 1988-89 season). Shiffrin’s 2,204 points in a season are second only to Slovenia’s Tina Maze (2,414 in 2012-13).

Shiffrin had quite a spread in her 2018-19 victories. Including worlds, she won four super-Gs, nine slaloms, four giant slalom races and two parallel slaloms.

Yes, 2018-19 was tech-heavy for Shiffrin — she is a tech skier. But when one starts to look at the epic seasons of those who went before her, Shiffrin’s four speed wins really stand out.

Lindsey Vonn won 12 times in 2010 (including downhill at the Olympics) and had another dozen in 2012. In 2010, Vonn won a combined 11 downhills and super-Gs with one super-combined victory. In 2012, Vonn’s best season with 1,980 points, she won five downhills, four super-Gs, two giant slaloms and a super combined.

Schneider’s 15 in 1988-89 came by way of GS and slalom domination with one combined win.

Maze is really the only one who comes close to Shiffrin. In her 2012-13 season, the Slovenian started all 35 World Cup races in racking up a record 2,414 points and won 12 times, including a GS gold in worlds.

Maze won in all five disciplines — there was no parallel slalom back then — in a season with one win each in downhill and super-G, two super-combineds, six giant slaloms and two slaloms.

Shiffrin crushes Maze in the win total, but Maze beats Mikaela on versatility and points. Now, it’s worth noting that Maze specifically told Shiffrin that starting every World Cup race and setting the points record really took a toll on her and sapped her of her love of the sport that season.

Shiffrin heeded Maze’s advice and tailored her schedule for 2018-19 accordingly and still put up 19 wins, 28 top five finishes in 29 starts, and top 10 results in every start. So perhaps, Mikaela gets points for learning from history.

I call it a tie for greatest season ever between the two. If you had to make me pick Shiffrin is No. 1 and Maze 1a.

Greatest of all time?

Not yet.

I see you commenting on Facebook. The way Shiffrin is going with 60 wins, she’s going to blow by Lindsey Vonn (82) and Ingemar Stenmark (86) in two or three seasons.

I hope so, but just remember, we were having the same conversation about Vonn and Stenmark for many years. Vonn was at 59 wins — and cruising to surprassing Stenmark — during the middle of the 2013 season when her knee exploded.

To her credit, Vonn returned and won 23 more times, even though she just was never the same dominant racer. Just as recently as last summer, we were charting a course for Vonn to win five races in 2018-19, starting with a win or two at Lake Louise, Alberta, to pass Stenmark.

Vonn never got to Lake Louise as she suffered another injury and when she returned, she was a shell of herself. Again, let us note that being a shell of Lindsey Vonn is still better than most, winning bronze in the worlds downhill.

Standard disclaimer: I was rooting for Vonn to break the record. I am rooting for Shiffrin to do the same. If you want me to buy a lucky rabbit’s foot to guard over any misfortune befalling Shiffrin, I will do so.

What makes what Shiffrin did this year, and what Vonn did in seasons past, so amazing is that they are/were dominating in a sport where the end can come very quickly.

In the meantime, Mikaela, have a great summer. After your media rounds, take some well-deserved time off. Soelden, Austria, is just seven months away.

Lost skier at Steamboat Resort finds cellphone in lift shack to call for help

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A Steamboat Springs man almost spent Thursday night at Steamboat Resort after getting lost in an out-of-bounds area near Pioneer Ridge earlier in the day.

Fortunately, he was able to hike to a lift shack, where he found a cellphone that he used to call Steamboat Ski Patrol.

Routt County Search and Rescue assisted patrollers with the rescue. Kristia Check-Hill, the incident commander for Search and Rescue, said the man had been skiing with his partner in Morningside Park on Thursday afternoon.

The two then skied North St. Pat’s from the top of Mount Werner.

Check-Hill said when the man’s partner descended the trail and reached the Bar UE lift at about 3 p.m., she stopped to wait for him. She eventually called him, and he said he had accidentally skied off the trail.

He got stuck in the deep snow that accumulated after this week’s heavy storms.

Ten minutes later, she called him again. The man had managed to free himself but had reached a flat clearing with no tracks or ski runs.

“That was the last conversation anyone had with him,” Check-Hill said.

At that point, Check-Hill said, the woman called Ski Patrol to help locate the man. Patrollers tried to make contact with him, but his phone went straight to voicemail. They suspected his phone had died.

The man never called 911 or Ski Patrol, so officials did not get a detailed ping on his location. Check-Hill, who spoke with the man after the incident, explained that he did not consider the situation to be urgent because he was at the ski area.

“He thought he would just pop out on a run,” she said. “Unfortunately, that did not happen.”

Patrollers conducted a sweep of the area around Morningside Park and the Pony Express lift. They also sent a snow groomer up the Last Chance run that cuts around Morningside Park but did not see any trace of the man.

Ski Patrol contacted Search and Rescue about 5:30 p.m. to report the missing skier. Patrollers and rescue volunteers, including Check-Hill, decided that it would be best to wait until morning to conduct an additional search.

In the meantime, Check-Hill tried to track the cellphone calls the man had made to his partner earlier in the day. She coordinated with the U.S. Air Force’s cellular team to try to determine the man’s location.

“Unfortunately, with the cellphone carrier that he uses, it wasn’t easy,” she said.

Check-Hill explained that certain carriers offer more accurate location services in Routt County. Because the man was so close to the cellphone towers on the top of Mount Werner, the Air Force team could not get a specific triangulation from the calls.

“We had a circle that was basically the ski area,” Check-Hill said.

Around 9:30 p.m., Ski Patrol received a call from the man. He had hiked to the top of the Pony Express lift and entered the lift shack, Check-Hill said. There, he found a cellphone that he used to call Ski Patrol.

Patrollers sent a snow groomer to the lift shack and transported the man to the base of the ski area. He was exhausted but unharmed, according to Check-Hill.

This incident underscores the importance of contacting emergency responders before a cellphone dies.

“Had he called Ski Patrol or 911, we could have gotten a better location,” Check-Hill said.

She advised that even if people do not need an immediate rescue, calling emergency responders ahead of time makes it easier for rescuers to find them if the situation gets worse or their phone dies.

She added that by the time many people get lost in the backcountry, or on the ski resort, their cellphones are almost out of battery. Cold temperatures can quickly deplete any remaining charge.

“I know we harp on it, but it is so important to have that cellphone charged,” Check-Hill said.

People can also purchase portable chargers to extend the battery life of their cellphones.

To reach Derek Maiolo, call 970-871-4247, email dmaiolo@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @derek_maiolo.

Vail’s Mikaela Shiffrin four-peats in worlds slalom

Seemingly nothing can stop Vail’s Mikaela Shiffrin in slalom and certainly not a nasty cold.

The 23-year-old made history on Saturday at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Are, Sweden, by winning the slalom for the fourth consecutive time at the biennial event.

“I was just trying to fight to stay on the course,” she said to The Associated Press and that she “certainly had a lot of doubt today.”

On where this performance ranked in her career, Shiffrin said: “Today was something else.”

U.S. Ski Team spokeswoman Megan Harrod said Shiffrin “has a chest cold” and had “low energy.” According to the AP, Shiffrin collapsed to the snow for a little while after finishing.

“Everyone around me today was helping me so much to make it so that I could breathe when I needed to,” Shiffrin said to the AP. “I don’t want people to think, ‘Oh, I’m sick and I won.’ I mean I was really pushing and maybe I couldn’t have done better if I was feeling normal.”

“A testament to her grittiness,” Shiffrin’s coach, Jeff Lackie, told The Associated Press, “and what she was able to accomplish in that second run was nothing short of incredible.”

No one has ever won the same event at worlds four times in a row— even when the event was held annually from 1931-39 — so welcome to history, Mikaela.

Shiffrin was third after the first run behind Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener (0.15-seconds ahead) and Sweden’s Anna Swenn Larson. The American blew away the field in the second run with the only time under 1 minute (59.82 seconds) to win by 0.58 seconds over Swenn Larson and Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, while Holdener faltered and fell back to 17th place.

Being under the weather didn’t stop Shiffrin from becoming only the third American to win two golds at worlds. Shiffrin won the top step in super-G last week.

Lindsey Vonn, who retired earlier this week with her bronze in the downhill, won two golds in 2009 (downhill and super-G) in Val, D’Isere, France. American Andrea Mead Lawrence also did the double (giant slalom and slalom) in Oslo during the 1952 Olympics, when the games doubled as the world championships.

In the post-World War II era of the event, Shiffrin is tied for fourth among women all-time with five gold medals at worlds in her career along with Austria’s Annamarie Moser-Proll and Croatia’s Janica Kostelic. Only France’s Marielle Goitschel and Sweden’s Anja Parson (both at seven) and Switzerland’s Erika Hess (six) have won more.

Shiffrin has also now tied Ted Ligety for most worlds gold medals by an American with five. She has a rather extensive collection of trinkets with 7 worlds podiums (five gold, one silver and the bronze, the last coming in Thursday’s giant slalom), as well as three Olympic medals (2014 slalom gold, 2018 GS gold, and 2018 combined silver).

Sixty seconds

Shiffrin probably could have been forgiven for thinking, “Here we go again,” as the weather was poor again in Are. While wind forced her to ski conservatively during the first run of Thursday’s giant slalom and “settle” for bronze, fog descended on the course on Saturday.

And then there was her illness.

Skiing with the No. 2 bib, Shiffrin had a solid first run which put her in position for the podium and a possible charge, but she was having a hard time breathing.

“It was a really big push today. Every day is a push,” she said via an audio file posted on www,fis-ski.com. “It’s always a fight, but I was watching the girls after the first run, thinking, like, ‘I don’t know how much more I have to give, how much more I can push.'”

“It wasn’t enough in the first run. So I was really trying to overcome this doubt. My team, my coaches, everybody, they were helping me so much to believe in myself, but also just to say, ‘The reality is you have to push for 60 seconds. Everything else doesn’t matter, just 60 seconds. So like pull yourself together for that and then OK, you’re done.’ When I think about it like this, then it seems manageable. That’s where my mind was before my run.”

As it turned out, Shiffrin needed fewer than 60 seconds, 59.82 seconds to be precise.

“I don’t even remember my run,” she said. “I just remember pushing on every turn.”

But it wasn’t over. First of all, she had to get up from her prone position in the finish area. She said she was worried that it would be disrespectful to be lying in a heap, even if she was having a hard time getting oxygen to her lungs, with Sweden’s Swenn Larson coming down next.

Shiffrin could also sense that the home crowd was willing Swenn Larson to do well, totally understandable as the host nation had not medaled to that point at worlds. Swenn Larson charged, assured Sweden of its first medal of the two-week event, yet finished a little more than a half-second back of Shiffrin.

The American then had to wait out the first-run leader, Holdener, who had a forgettable second run, clinching the gold for Shiffrin.

“It’s been an emotional day and I’m not sure why I’ve been crying a lot more than I normally do. It’s a little bit embarrassing. But it is emotional for a lot of reasons. I can’t explain every reason to you right now. I think it would take much to long. It’s sport. It’s life … It’s everything mixed together, but it’s a really special day today.”

American Paula Moltzan also had a big day, finishing 19th.

Back to the white circus

And so ends a memorable world championships for Shiffrin. The men race slalom on Sunday to close out Are 2019.

But the World Cup continues and Shiffrin is close to clinching her third straight World Cup championship. With the caveat that world championships do not count toward World Cup points, Shiffrin still has a huge lead of 651 points over Vlhova. With 11 World Cup events remaining, this is all but an insurmountable lead.

The women’s tour is in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, for a downhill and a super-combined next weekend. While Shiffrin has not announced her upcoming schedule yet, she has finished a strenuous stretch at Worlds, not to mention the build-up to Are. In the last two months, she has competed in 21 events in 10 different countries — the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Frace, Austria (twice), Norway, Croatia, Italy, Slovenia, and Sweden — and it’s not hard to speculate that she may take a pass on Switzerland, even with the super-combined.

There’s also the factor of getting healthy and being able to breathe normally, which usually helps with Alpine skiing. There are more speed events — a downhill and super-G — in Rosa Khutor, Russia, March 2-3.

The tour turns back to tech with a GS and slalom in the Czech Republic, March 8-9, and her return to the slopes will come there, if she doesn’t appear in the previous two stops, followed by the World Cup finals in Soldeu, Andorra, March 13-17.