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Lindsey Vonn Foundation hosting free virtual camp March 6 for youth across the country

Retired U.S. ski racer Lindsey Vonn smiles at the finish area during a World Cup race in Austria on Jan. 24 following an impressive transition to the broadcast booth this year. On Saturday, March 6, Vonn will be helping hundreds of youth across the country with a free online camp from 3:30 to 5 p.m. (Marco Trovati, AP)

The Lindsey Vonn Foundation is helping youth nationwide get excited about staying healthy — from online safety to fitness — with a free Zoom event on Saturday, March 6. Designed for girls ages 11-14, #STRONGgoals is open to girls of all ages, as well as boys.

The virtual camp is March 6 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Sign up at www.lindseyvonnfoundation.org.

About the Event

“The Lindsey Vonn Foundation is proud to present our #STRONGgoals Virtual Camp hosted by Lindsey Vonn,” the organization’s website says. “The camp will help build healthy habits for this new year! The camp is free for those who register to join.”

Guests will include Olympic gold gymnast Laurie Hernandez, speaking about mental health; event sponsor Chase presenting an online security talk; and Vonn’s own personal trainer, Alex Bunt, leading a fitness exercise.

#STRONGgoals will teach girls life changing habits and goals to stay healthy and happy in 2021 and beyond. In conjunction with their very own LVF #STRONGgoals workbook, the program will focus on fitness, safety online and mindfulness.

  1. Fitness: Girls will join Lindsey Vonn in an exercise warm-up session led by professional fitness trainer Alex Bunt.
  2. Online safety: A custom curated social media and online safety talk will be presented to the girls by the tech-gurus at JP Morgan Chase; this talk seeks to educate and protect kids for life online.
  3. Mindfulness: Our final segment will open up to a discussion on mental healthy with Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez. Hernandez and Vonn will have a conversation to help guide girls in the importance of self-care and positive self-talk.
  4. The online camp will close with a Q&A with Vonn. Parents are welcome to sit in for the entire one-and-a-half hour camp or to join their daughter with Lindsey for the Q&A and closing remarks at 7 pm. A virtual workbook will be provided via email following registration so parents can follow along with their kids during the camp or review the materials with them afterward.

Notes for the event:

  • The Lindsey Vonn Foundation created this program for girls ages 11-14 but girls and boys of any age are welcome to join.
  • This event requires some physical activity. Organizers want to make sure everyone is safe and healthy. If you are not able to do physical exercises, you can sit this portion out.
  • What to wear: Casual, exercise clothing recommended.

Scholarships

The Lindsey Vonn Foundation is also accepting applications for its scholarship program, helping children 10-18 years old financially in-need pursue their passions.

Enrichment scholarships, up to $5,000, are for STEM, after-school, art, dance and academic programs. The Sports Matter scholarships are for all sports scholarships and are available up to $15,000.

To apply, visit www.lindseyvonnfoundation.org. Applicants will need one letter of recommendation if asking for $5,000 or less, and two letters of recommendation if asking for more than $5,000. Applicants will also need to write an essay about why they need a scholarship and include their family’s household income to qualify.

Can Mikaela Shiffrin win three at worlds? It’s hard to do for many reasons

France's Jean Claude Killy waves after winning the men's downhill during the Winter Olympics on Feb. 9, 1968. At his side are J. Daniel Daetwyler of Switzerland who came in third, and Guy Perillat of France who finished second. Killy is only one of three men to win three contested races at world championships along with Toni Salier and Ted Ligety. (AP File Photo)

So, you want to win three gold medals at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships? Easier said than done, even for an incredible racer like Mikaela Shiffrin.

It’s only been done 14 times by 12 people — Germany’s Christl Cranz (1936 and 1939) and Austrian Toni Salier (1956 and 1958) have done it twice during the 47 world championships dating back to 1931 — which includes the Winter Olympics during the 1930s and from 1948-1980.

Some rules

• Worlds were held annually from their inception in 1931-1939, as a standalone competition or the 1932 Olympics in Lake Placid in New York or Garmisch, Germany, in 1936

That is how Cranz holds the record for most golds (12) at world championships and most medals won (15) and probably will for the rest of time. Cranz holds an important place in the history of ski racing, however, if modern racers got a yearly crack at worlds, their numbers would be a bit higher.

Annual worlds also helped Cranz get the golden triple twice.

Germany’s Christl Cranz benefits from worlds being held annually in racking up a record of 12 golds and 15 medals won. (Screen grab)

• Only from 1982 onward did racers actually contest the combined. From 1931-1980, the combined was a paper race. Be it worlds or the Olympics, organizers traditionally added the times from the downhill and the slalom races and the men or women with the lowest times received medals.

Were we still operating under those rules, Shiffrin would have needed to run in Saturday’s downhill, which she didn’t, and then the slalom on Saturday, as planned. We’re not saying we wouldn’t have liked her chances in an old paper combined — her bronze-medal super-G run on Thursday showed she probably could have been fine in the downhill Saturday — but it is easier to get to three golds via math than actual competition.

That’s a full medal jacket. Sweden’s Anja Paerson conquers the 2007 world championships with three gold medals on home snow in Are. (AP File Photo/Luca Bruno)

• There are more disciplines now. Giant slalom didn’t become an event until 1950 in the championships’ first trip to North America in a little town called Aspen. The only way to win three at worlds before that was to win downhill and slalom and wait for someone to add up the times for the combined.

Super-G doesn’t join the schedule until 1987 in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, where the Swiss just slobber-knock everyone with eight out of a possible 10 gold medals, including Pirmin Zurbriggen and Maria Walliser winning the new-fangled discipline for the hosts.

Imagine the legends like Franz Klammer or Gustav Thoeni during the 1960s and 1970s who probably could have added to their worlds medal count with the super-G as an official event. Thoeni won two golds at at the Olympics in 1972 (GS and slalom) and two more at worlds in 1974 (combined and slalom). It’s very likely that a hypothetical super-G would have been No. 3.

And who’s to say that Toni Salier and Jean Claude Killy wouldn’t have added to their triple/quadruple golds with a super-G race? (We wouldn’t have bet against either in 1956, 1958 or 1968.)

And FIS has added the team event and men’s and women’s parallel competitions which will make triple golds easier in the future.

The cream of the cream

If one negates the results from holding worlds annually in the 1930s which gives an advantage to racers like Cranz, and get rid of the paper combined races, only six racers have won three golds at worlds.

The two most common names mentioned in this category are the immortals of ski racing — Salier (1956 in Cortina, Italy, this year’s worlds site) and Killy (1968). Not only did they win three actual races — donwhill, GS and slalom — but they also took the paper combi for a fourth gold.

The only other male to do the triple is Ted Ligety, which is one of the many reasons we wish him well in retirement.

The ladies are Switzerland’s Erika Hess in 1982, the first year of a real combined race at worlds, Croatia’s Janica Kostelic (2005) and Sweden’s Anja Paerson.

Taking nothing away from the super six who have done this, but this list is notable as well for the people not on it. On the American front, Bode Miller (33 World Cup wins), Lindsey Vonn (82) and Mikaela Shiffrin (68) haven’t done it.

As great as he was and he was the best with 86 career World Cup wins, Ingemar Stenmark never won three gold medals at the world championships. (AP File Photo)

Ingemar Stenmark (86 World Cup wins, the record) never did the triple. Nor did Marcel Hirscher (67 wins), Hermann Maier (54) Alberto Tomba (50) and Marc Girardelli (46). Those are the top five male winners in World Cup history. (Salier raced before the World Cup existed and Killy retired just when it was founded.)

Only three of the 20 winningest racers on the World Cup have won three golds at worlds, Anja Paerson, Hanni Wenzel and Erika Hess. (Screen grab)

It’s that hard to be your best for a week or two every two years.

Three (or more) golds at worlds

Women

1933: Inge Weson-Lantschner, Austria, Innsbruck, Austria, DH, SL, K (a,b,c).

1936: Christl, Cranz, Germany, 1936, Garmisch, Germany, DH, SL, K (a,b,c).

1939: Christl Cranz, Germany 1939, Zakopane, Poland, DH, SL, K. (a,b,c).

1966: Marielle Goitschel, France, Portillo, Chile, DH, GS, K (c).

1980: Hanni Wenzel, West Germany, Lake Placid, New York, SL, GS, K (b,c).

1982: Erika Hess, Switzerland, Schldaming, Austria, SL, GS, K.

2005: Janica Kostelic, Croatia, Bormio, Italy, SL, DH, K.

2007: Anja Paerson, Sweden, 2007, Sweden, DH, SG, K.

Men

1937: Emile Allais, France, Chamonix, France, DH, SL, K (a,c).

1954: Stein Eriksen, Norway, Are, Sweden, SL, GS, K. (c)

1956: (four golds) Toni Salier, Austria, 1956, Cortina, Italy, DH, GS, SL, K (b,c)

1958: Toni Salier, Austria, Bad Gastein, Austria, DH, SL, K.

1968: (four golds) Jean-Claude Killy, France, Grenoble, France, DH, GS, SL, K (b,c).

2013: Ted Ligety, USA, Schladming, Austria, 2013, SG, GS, K.

a – Worlds held annually in the 1930s.

b – The Winter Olympics in 1932, 1936 and after World War II through 1980 in Lake Placid, New York, doubled as worlds.

c – The combined at worlds was a paper race until 1982, meaning that organizers just added together the downhill and slalom times already contested and then awarded medals.

 

Gold in hand, Mikaela Shiffrin gears up for worlds GS and slalom

Meet worlds gold medal No. 6. Mikaela Shiffrin tries on some new hardware after winning Monday’s worlds Alpine combined. (AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta)

So, what I miss? Anything happen at worlds the last two days while I was off?

Yes, Mikaela Shiffrin won the Alpine combined gold medal at worlds, but she did it without her pedal on the gas during the super-G portion of the race.

Rewatching the combined super-G, Shiffrin took it easy in comparison to the line she took during Thursday’s stand-alone super-G, in which she won a bronze. Nonethleless, Shiffrin was just 0.06 seconds behind first-run leader Italian Federica Brignone, and that’s cuing up the music for Dandy Don.

Game over, people, going into the slalom.

We can talk about the number of worlds medals Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn have — Shiffrin passed Vonn on Monday. We can talk about this being her sixth gold at worlds, something which has historical implications.

Here’s the real meaning in a hypothetical news conference after Monday’s combined that would never happen because Shiffrin doesn’t roll this way.

How to watch the worlds GS

Worlds giant slalom

First run, 2 a.m., Olympic Channel, Peacock

First-run replay, NBCSN, 4:30 a.m.

Second run, 5:30 a.m., NBCSN, Peacock

“I’m still the best skier in the world, ladies, I may be taking essentially a gap year this season, but I can still roll you all. Enjoy the race wins, the globes and the other trinkets while you can. Oh, yeah, and I’m probably bringing the house during the GS and slalom later this week.”

Shiffrin is not the Larry Bird style of athlete who walks into the locker room before the 3-point competition at the All-Star Game and says, “Which one of you is going to finish second?” She lets her skiing do the talking, but she just sent a warning shot across the skiing world’s bow.

Does she get on a roll and smash the field in that GS and slalom? She doesn’t probably sweep this week because three golds in one worlds is really rare air. She probably wants the GS gold because it’s the missing medal of her collection. She also most likely wants the slalom for the five-peat. The latter is starting to look more likely.

Bigger picture? She’s going to come out of the other side of this, just fine, thank you. In the assorted post-race interviews, Shiffrin seemed to be having fun with her skiing — adding speed before worlds may have served as a pick-me-up — and just generally in a good place.

Since there are times you think you’re never going to come out the other end from a devastating loss, let’s celebrate it.

Go, Miki.

Nations watch

Austria

Again, the Austrians take world championships far too seriously — in 2015 when the nation did not place a racer in the Top 10 in the men’s downhill here, an Austrian minister declared the moment to be “a national disaster.” And here we thought the fall of Hapsburgs and the Anschluss fell in that category more neatly.

Vincent Kriechmayr, whose first World Cup win came at the Birds of Prey in 2017, swept the super-G and the downhill. On a serious note, Kriechmayr is one of only three men to sweep speed at worlds. The others are Herman Maier in 1999 at Birds of Prey — we remember that — and Bode Miller 2005 in Bormio, Italy.

Marco Schwarz won the combined. (How many times, by the way, do we need to say that tech racers win combis?) The Austrian men are dominating in Cortina, Italy. Can France’s Alexis Pinturault break up an Austrian male sweep of the traditionally contested events — disregarding the team or the parallel events — at worlds?

We just ask because Schwarz is the favorite in Sunday’s slalom. Pinturault seems like a non-Austrian who can win in GS on Friday.

Italy

Host Italy is struggling. We know the feeling. In 1999, the Americans got a goose egg for their troubles when the worlds came here for the second time. And, let’s face it we were kinda getting nervous as 2015 proceeded. Yes, Vonn won a bronze in the downhill early at Beaver Creek, but it wasn’t until the last Friday and Saturday of the championships that Ted Ligety and Mikaela went. Then all exhaled.

Sofia Goggia breaking her leg one week before worlds hurt the Italians in their speed quest. She was the favorite in the downhill. Yet after all this woe, do remember that Marta Bassino goes in the GS on Thursday. While, of course, we’re rooting for Shiffrin, the smart money is on Marta.

Norway

Norway has zero medals. This is strange to see as the Fighting Vikings are a traditional power at this event. On the other hand, everyone from Norway, including regular citizens, were injured this year on the World Cup. Even in retirement, we think Aksel Lund Svindal broke his leg.

It’s just not Norway’s year. Maybe, the country is still reeling from Will Ferrell being angry at them?

USA

Team USA? Doing just about as expected. With Ryan Cochran-Siegle and Tommy Ford out, the team’s best medal chance not named Mikaela Shiffrin was Breezy Johnson. She finished ninth, a solid showing after missing this event in 2019.

Paul Moltzan finished fourth in the parallel slalom on Tuesday, but as goes Shiffrin, so does America.

See you all (virtually) Thursday morning.

Mikaela Shiffrin wins record 9th world championship medal, surpassing Lindsey Vonn, Ted Ligety

Mikaela Shiffrin, of Edwards, has won two medals at the world championships in Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy, with two more races to go. With her gold on Monday in the combined, Shiffrin broke multiple American ski racing records. (Giovanni Auletta, AP)

Mikaela Shiffrin raced down the course at Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy, for her second of two runs in the combined Monday morning and shrugged, not knowing if her first-place time would hold with some tough competition still to come.

After the field finished, Shiffrin was left sitting in the leader’s chair, securing her ninth world championships medal and sixth gold, surpassing Lindsey Vonn’s eight career medals and Ted Ligety’s five golds.

“I just wasn’t sure, you just have to wait and see because there’s always someone who can come down and do something incredible. In my opinion, you can just never be comfortable with where you are. You still have to come out the second run and ski well,” Shiffrin told NBC Sports after the first run.

Shiffrin, whose recent success comes three months after returning to racing from a 300-day break, won bronze in Thursday’s world championships opening event, the super-G.

The host Italians were set up nicely after the first leg of the combined, the speed portion, by holding the top two spots. However, Shiffrin’s slalom portion in the second leg proved too much to overcome. Two of Shiffrin’s main competitors also failed to complete their second runs. Leader Frederica Brignone, of Italy, straddled a gate and two-time defending champion Wendy Holdener, of Switzerland, also skied out.

“I felt like I was pushing, even though some turns felt slippery, but I was still pushing,” Shiffrin told The Associated Press. “I thought if somebody else has the timing a little bit better, especially the very top part, I don’t have a guaranteed medal off.”

‘Mikaela showed us how it’s done’

With two medals already, Shiffrin is setting up for a solid world championships, competing four times over the two-week competition.

Having never competed in a world championships combined, Shiffrin showed her dominance when skiing her best by winning gold. In the past, the speed event of the combined was a downhill race, followed by a tech race, but the switch to super-G in the first leg proved beneficial.

“I’m happy that we decided to put this in the plan this world champs,” Shiffrin told the NBC broadcast after the race. “It was a really nice day, beautiful weather and really great tracks on both events. For sure it was a tough slalom, so I’m pretty happy I got down with a really good run.”

Slovakia skier Petra Vlhova finished second, 0.86 behind Shiffrin; Swiss skier Michelle Gisin finished third, 0.89 behind.

“When you look at the top finishers, it’s the girls who are strong in both events,” Shiffrin said.

Fellow American Isabella Wright finished 14th; with AJ Hurt finishing with a DNF in the second run, and Breezy Johnson finishing with a DNF in the first run.

“It was a tough slalom,” bronze medalist Gisin told NBC Sports after the race. “Mikaela showed us how it’s done, and I couldn’t hold up to her quite yet, but maybe I’ll find some solutions for Saturday.”

The world championships slalom is set for Saturday, which Shiffrin is set to compete in as well as Thursday’s giant slalom.

Mikaela Shiffrin waves from the finish area after her second run in the world championships combined on Monday. With the win, Shiffrin now has nine medals at the biennial world championships dating back to 2013, including six golds. (Giovanni Auletta, AP)

Elite company

With the combined win, Shiffrin joins Tamara McKinney as the only American woman to win the world championships event. McKinney won in 1989 — when the world championships were held in Vail.

Her gold medal brings her world championships total to nine, including golds in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 and now 2021, as well as silver in 2017’s GS; and bronze in 2019’s GS and this year’s super-G. (The world championships happen every two years and have been hosted by both Vail and Beaver Creek.)

With six gold world championship medals and nine total, Shiffrin is in a class of her own in American ski racing. The American men’s Ted Ligety has seven medals at world championships, including five golds; and Vonn has eight medals over the course of her career. Germany’s Chritl Cranz has a record 15 medals at the world championships in her career; France’s Marielle Goitschel and Sweden’s Anja Paerson have 11 each, within Shiffrin’s reach this world championships if the schedule plays out — but who’s counting?

“Ya, that’s pretty cool,” Shiffrin answered post-race about being the most decorated American at the world championships. “If you ask me, my first world champs in Schladming [Austria], I’d say no way. So it’s been a pretty cool journey to this point and it certainly was a pleasure today.”

Shiffrin in the past has said she hopes to do things no one else has done in the sport.

“I’ve done some things, but I’ve always been just trying to push my own limit first and then trying to push the limit in the sport,” Shiffrin said. “I feel like on my really good days I’m doing that. It’s a pretty amazing feeling.”

Shiffrin continues to lead the women’s U.S. Ski Team at the world championships in Italy. Meanwhile, Germany has won three medals so far at the world championships, the most since 2015; and the Swiss women have won four medals, including two golds in super-G and downhill. Host Italy has no medals yet.

With results already and more races to come at the world championships, Shiffrin is looking to carry momentum into the rest of the week.

“You start to feel less pressure and more freedom a little bit,” Shiffrin said. “Just ski and see what happens. Getting that mentality is just a nice build into the giant slalom and then the slalom race.”

Between now and her next race Thursday, Shiffrin will take time to both recover and train.

“I’m looking forward to it,” she said.

How to watch Shiffrin race

Mikaela Shiffrin represents the U.S. at the top of the podium on Monday in Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy. The world championships continue this week and wrap up Saturday. (AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta)

Racing in Italy has the world championships on early in the morning in Colorado. Races are aired on either NBCSN or the Olympic Channel.

On Thursday, Shiffrin is set to compete in the giant slalom: Run 1 starts at 2 a.m. on the Olympic Channel. Run 2 is on NBCSN at 5:30 a.m. Reruns are also available.

On Saturday, Shiffrin will close out the world championships with the slalom. Run 1 is at 2 a.m. on the Olympic Channel with Run 2 at 5:30 a.m. on the Olympic Channel. Saturday’s slalom will re-air later in the day as well as on Sunday.

The Associated Press, NBC Sports broadcast and Vail Daily Sports Editor Chris Freud contributed reporting to this story.

Lindsey Vonn: I wanted to end my career at Cortina worlds

Having retired from racing in 2019, Vonn is offering her thoughts on the 2021 world championships in Cortina, Italy, in a diary with the Associated Press. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati, file)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Lindsey Vonn is the most successful female ski racer of all-time with 82 career World Cup victories. She also holds the record for most victories at Cortina d’Ampezzo with 12 — evenly split between downhill (6) and super-G (6). Cortina was also where Vonn recorded the first podium result of her career, back in 2004, and where in 2015 she broke Annemarie Moser-Pröll’s 35-year-old record of 62 World Cup wins across all disciplines. Having retired from racing in 2019, Vonn is offering her thoughts on the world championships in Cortina in a diary as told to AP Sports Writer Andrew Dampf.

In an ideal world, I would be competing in a ski race for the final time this weekend — in the downhill at the world championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

You really can’t ask for anything better than that.

Unfortunately, injuries got in the way and my career ended prematurely. So I’m watching from afar.

Thursday’s super-G races were run on a classic Cortina day: beautiful sunshine, beautiful scenery, perfect course conditions. I’m definitely jealous that I wasn’t there.

A lot of casual viewers don’t understand why they postpone ski races when it snows or there’s fog or other difficult conditions. There’s a good reason, though, why the start of these worlds was postponed for three full days.

I applauded when they called off the women’s super-G on Tuesday due to fog hanging over the course after numerous delays.

It reminded me of the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria, when they made the wrong decision and started the super-G hours late in fading light and I tore up my right knee in a horrendous crash.

We shouldn’t have been racing and that kind of triggered a long series of injuries for me, missing the (2014) Olympics being one of the biggest disappointments. For world championships you always want fair and safe conditions and I’m glad that they delayed it to the point where they could have that.

I was also glad to see Lara Gut-Behrami win her first gold medal. A former overall champion and the winner of 30 World Cup races, it marked a major breakthrough after three silvers and three bronzes at worlds and Olympics.

It’s hard to be second or third all the time and I’m happy at this point in her career she was able to get the win, especially with the season that she’s been having. It’s really difficult to go into the world championships winning four races in a row. The pressure is really intense.

A lot of successful World Cup racers never actually win a world championship gold medal. So to kind of put the cherry on top of her career, it was a great, great result for her.

There are just so many variables in ski racing. Executing on one day for the Olympics or world championships is always one of the more challenging things to do in our sport.

You can get wind or the weather can change or you just unfortunately happen to have the wrong wax on that day. A million things can happen. You could have the wrong bib number.

At the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang I drew No. 1 for the super-G and made a mistake in my run because I didn’t have any information on the track. The mistake that I made was easily fixable had I known that that was an issue.

Running No. 1 is incredibly challenging. You saw on the men’s side today when the first three racers didn’t finish. Because you don’t always know the speed you’re coming into certain turns with. You have to make split-second decisions and having not run the track sometimes you make the wrong one.

Ski racing isn’t like tennis, where you have time to recover from a deficit. You only got about a minute and a half and usually it’s very difficult to come back from a mistake. I’ve done it — at my other favorite track in Lake Louise, Alberta. But most of the time, you have to be nearly perfect — like Lara was today.

Which brings me to Mikaela Shiffrin. She ended up with bronze today but could have won if not for one single mistake toward the end of her run.

Mikaela hadn’t raced in a long time in super-G and in super-G it’s a lot to do with timing and it’s just extremely difficult to execute on that little training and that little race experience.

Still, a bronze medal is an amazing accomplishment and should not be underestimated or underrated.

The nice thing about today was that the favorites won both races.

Vincent Kriechmayr of Austria mastered a tricky course for the men’s title. It was a new course for just about all of the men except for the host Italians — and me.

The men’s course is right next to the women’s course and we free skied down that trail every time for warmup. So it was interesting to see a race be held down it. It was always actually one of my favorite parts of Cortina, because I just bombed down that steep section.

Wish I was there.

___

More AP skiing: https://apnews.com/hub/skiing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Nobody knows the course in Cortina, Italy, better than Lindsey Vonn, who won 12 times there during her career. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati, file)

Mikaela Shiffrin third in super-G at world championships, tying Lindsey Vonn record

Mikaela Shiffrin crosses the finish line during the women's super-G at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, Thursday. After 382 days of not racing any speed events, Shiffrin finished third behind Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami and Corinne Suter. AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta)

Mikaela Shiffrin can apparently still ski super-G.

After more than a one-year layoff from the discipline, Shiffrin finished third in the long-awaited opener of the 2021 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships on Thursday morning in Cortina, Italy.

Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami, the pre-race favorite, captured the gold, ahead of teammate Corinne Suter. Shiffrin’s bronze is the eighth world champs medal of her career and that ties her with Lindsey Vonn for most medals at the biennial event by an American.

U.S. Ski Team Twitter saved us some time by counting up the 382 days since Shiffrin last competed in a speed event — winning the super-G on Jan. 26, 2020, in Bansko, Bulgaria. Of course, her world turned upside down about a week later and then came COVID-19, a limited offseason and her decision to focus on just giant slalom and slalom in the build-up to worlds.

The bigger news is that Shiffrin finished only 0.47 seconds behind Gut-Behrami despite a major mistake in her run.

When you watch the run, Shiffrin just takes a little bit of a wrong line skiing onto a flat just before the fourth-to-last gate, which she barely made. (The video’s only 1 minute, but if you’re in a rush, as Shiffrin was, go to the the 40-second mark.) Shiffrin had been in the green by as much as exactly 1 second. The last interval of the course cost her 6-tenths of a second.

Shiffrin went into the hot seat at the finish, but the bobble turned her medal from gold to bronze. Gut-Behrami beat Suter by 0.34 seconds and Shiffrin by 0.47.

“It’s a disappointment not to win gold. But after a year of not starting in super-G and some really, really good training in the last two weeks, I was able to ski the way that I wanted to. Even when I made a mistake, I still felt good about my skiing,” Shiffrin said to the Associated Press.

“I thought the plan I had from inspection would be the fastest, but I didn’t know if I could execute everything. And in the end, I executed like 98%.”

Bling count

That is worlds medal No. 8 for Shiffrin in her fifth world champs for Shiffrin. She has five gold (four in slalom and the 2019 super-G), one silver (2017 GS) and two bronzes (2019 GS and Thursday).

Meet Mikaela Shiffrin’s eighth FIS Alpine World Ski Championships medal, a bronze from Thursday’s super-G in Cortina, Italy. Shiffrin’s eighth medal at worlds ties for the most won at the biennial event by an American, tying her with Lindsey Vonn (AP Photo/Marco Tacca)

Not that the U.S. media ever stirs up anything between the two Vail ski godesses, but Vonn also has eight — two gold (2009 Val d’Isere, France, downhill and super-G), three silver (2007 and 2011 downhill and 2007 super-G) and three bronze (2015 super-G at Beaver Creek and 2017 and 2019 downhill).

Bigger picture, Shiffrin has to feel pretty good about her skiing in general that she did so well after a long pause. That’s particularly relevant with the super-combined as the next dance on Shiffrin’s card at worlds on Monday. FIS hasn’t released start times yet, but we’re assuming sometime early morning here in Colorado.

The worlds combined is super-G and slalom. Not that we’re looking ahead, but Thursday, Shiffrin had the fastest super-G time of a racer with significant recent slalom experience.

Gut-Behrami will shoot for her second gold of this worlds, but she hasn’t been in the points in slalom since December 2016. Suter is a pure speedster. While the combined is inherently unpredictable, Shiffrin was 0.42 seconds ahead of Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin, the 2018 Olympic combined champion, 44-hundredths ahead of Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, Mikaela’s chief rival in the slalom, and 0.77 in front of Italy’s Federica Brignone, who is having a terrific year. The italian has to be on the radar screen on home snow.

Past performance doesn’t guarantee future results, but we like Shiffrin’s chances were she to have a 0.42-second lead going into the slalom portion on Monday’s combined.

Friday is a training day for downhill. Action resumes with the women’s downhill on Saturday and the men on Sunday. Start time is 5 a.m. Mountain time both days with the Olympic Channel and Peacock Premium delivering the video from Cortina.

Thank you, Ted

From left, Bode Miller, Ted Ligety and Austria's Marcel Hirscher make up the Birds of Prey giant-slalom podium in 2013. Ligety announced his retirement on Tuesday and will race in his final GS next week at worlds in Cortina, Italy.. (AP File Photo/Alessandro Trovati, File)

He is best known as Shred, originally his nickname and now a popular brand of skiing eyewear and other head gear. The Vail Daily kept on running the headline, “Ligety-split,” so much that the sports editor had to impose a ban on the phrase in print.

But to me, he’s Teddy Ballgame, a nickname that invokes Ted Williams, the Splendid Splinter. I don’t think Ted Ligety could hit .406, but there was just something so clutch in an otherwise rather mild-mannered kid from Park City, Utah.

And so we heave a collective sigh as Ligety announced his retirement Tuesday. When he races his final GS in Cortina, Italy, at worlds next week, we all feel a little bit older as another terrific athlete who always shines in our memory leaves the sport.

We deal with a lot in greatness since somehow we’ve hit the skiing lottery locally with Lindsey Vonn, roughly followed by Mikaela Shiffrin. That’s a hard act to follow for any American racer.

In some ways, Ligety has always toiled in their shadows, more so Lindsey’s. It seems like Ted always won at Birds of Prey, which he did, but it took a while to start. From 2006-2009, Ligety lived with the fact that he had a little more than 2 minutes once a year to win on home snow.

And during those four years, he came painstakingly close at Beaver Creek. He was 7-hundredths off and finished third in the 2006 GS (Massamiliano Blardone won, and I still love that name). Ligety was 15-hundredths of a second off the pace in 2007 and fourth with Daniel Albrecht — holy Birds of Prey flashback, Batman — winning.

In 2008, Benni Raich beat him by 1-hundredth. After three close calls, Ligety was fourth in 2009 by more than a second. (Carlo Janka; yes, we’ve hit Birds of Prey nostalgia overdrive.)

Remember that he was not the elder statesman of American skiing that he is today. He was a young guy, who had what seemed, at the time, like a fluky combined gold medal in the 2006 Olympics. He had only five career World Cup wins in five-plus years before Dec. 5, 2010, when he finally won here.

It was convincing, 0.82 seconds over Kjetil Jansrud and 1.24 ticks ahead of some guy named Marcel Hirscher. And, naturally, when he finally won, Vonn not surprisingly destroyed everyone up in Lake Louise, Alberta, that day. Ted and Lindsey had to share the front page of the Vail Daily. (I’m sure both lost sleep over that.)

Schladming 2013

When all the tributes are done — and there should be a ton — Ligety will best be remembered for his performance at the 2013 world championships in Austria. Three golds at worlds puts a person in some elite company.

Ted was the first man since Jean-Claude Killy in 1968 to win three at world champs. That is a stunning sentence to write. (And, if you’re wondering, from World War II to 1980, the Olympics doubled as the world championships.)

The GS gold wasn’t a surprise. The combined was a mild surprise — it validated the 2006 Olympic gold. Super-G? OK, that floored everyone, even though Ligety had a tendency to do pretty well on technical, turny super-G tracks. (Birds of Prey, cough, cough.)

Worlds are funky coming every two years. One has to have the luck of being at the height of his or her powers in a now-odd numbered year and healthy simultaneously. Vonn is a terrific example of this. For all her greatness, she only won twice at worlds in her career, both in 2009 in Val d’Isere, France, in downhill and super-G.

While Ted was about to win three in 2013, Vonn’s knee exploded in Schladming’s super-G. One can only wonder what-if for Lindsey. Of course, Shiffrin still has a shot at the worlds triple in her career, but, even in 2018-19 when she was darn near invincible, she still came up short in Are, Sweden.

It’s not like two golds in super-G and slalom and bronze in the GS is a bad worlds in any way shape or form. It just shows how hard it is.

Marcel

Rivalries are born of contrast and Marcel Hirscher and Ted Ligety, well, one would say apples and oranges, but actually, Ted’s an apple and Marcel’s a deli sandwich.

The first time I heard Ligety refered to as, “Mr. GS,” was in 2011 when Hirscher called Ted by the appelation. The funny thing was that Hirscher won that day’s GS — Hirscher won the Birds of Prey GS in 2011 and Ligety would win the same race a few days later when European races were rescheduled here.

Hirscher was doing his world renowned “Oh, gee, I have no chance against Ted/insert-the-name-of-any-good-skier-here.” shtick, which really did get a little old after the Austrian ended up winning 67 World Cups with all the other trappings of worlds and the Olympics before retiring two summers ago.

Ligety could not stand Hirscher’s routine and things got so testy that Ted accused the Austrian Ski Federation of canceling the Soelden GS in October 2017 because Hirscher had a broken ankle at the time. Ligety tried to walk that back as a joke. He wasn’t joking.

Yet they brought out the best in each other. By the 2015 worlds here in Beaver Creek, Ligety was nearing the end of his run, but he beat back Hirscher one last time in dramatic fashion for his third-straight world title, probably Ted’s most exciting race on American snow..

Ligety’s Left

Doubtless, there will be plenty of opportunities for Ligety in retirement. He has been particularly outspoken in wanting skiing to embrace the next generation of racers. This came to a head/Head in 2013 when Ligety adamantly opposed FIS’ proposal to require longer GS skis.

Ligety argued — rightly so — that longer skis made it harder to turn — which was exactly FIS’ intention; Ted was dominating GS too much — and therefore, the sport was making it harder for kids to get into racing. FIS eventually relented on the GS skis.

It’s not hard to see Ligety becoming an advocate to the sport of skiing, which, let’s face it, needs some marketing help in being a more accessible and inclusive.

In the meantime, we look forward to Ligety getting a part of the Birds of Prey course named for him.Just as Daron has Rahlves’ Roll and Bode has Miller’s Revenge, Ligety is part of the course’s lore.

Ligety’s Left sounds good.

In the meantime, thanks for everything, Ted.

 

 

Cortina 2021 predictions: Can Mikaela Shiffrin strike gold?

Mikaela Shiffrin races to her 2019 World Cup super-G victory in Cortina, Italy. The FIS Alpine World Ski Championships are in Cortina, starting Monday, and Shiffrin will be defending her titles in super-G and slalom. (AP File Photo/Marco Trovati)

Welcome to the 2021 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Cortina, Italy, the worlds that were never meant to happen.

Cortina seemed like a logical enough place for worlds as a regular stop on the World Cup tour as well as the home of the 1956 Winter Olympics. Then came COVID-19 which devastated northern Italy in particular.

Last spring, the World Cup finals, traditionally hosted by next winter’s worlds host, in Cortina were scrubbed. Cortina also asked FIS to move these 2021 worlds to next spring after the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing to give the region/world time to recover from the pandemic.

FIS declined, the show must go on, and the women kick it off Monday with the super combined, a change in the traditional order of events, followed by both men’s and women’s super-G on Tuesday.

Here are our predictions which aren’t worth the paper they are printed on or the data space they occupy on the internet, but it’s good fun, people. From experience, this is a hopeless, but entertaining exercise.

We’ll start with the topic of most interest locally with the ladies.

Super combined, Monday

The combi returns. The parallel giant slalom or slalom has replaced the combined in the name of COVID safety, but ostensibly as more a trial run for being more television friendly than the combi. I love the combined event — in this case a super-G in the morning and a slalom as the nightcap.

Keep the combined, people.

2021 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships medal count predictions

Cortina, Italy

Women’s events only

Country G . S . B . Tot

Italy . 2 . 1 . 1 . 4

Slovakia . 2 1 . 0 3

USA . 0 . 1 . 2 . 3

Switzerland . 0 . 2 0 . 2

Austria . 0 . 0 . 2 . 2

Czech Rep. 1 . 0 . 0 . 1

France . 0 . 0 . 1 . 1

Mikaela Shiffrin announced on Tuesday that not only is she entering the super-G, but also the combined. It’s surprising to see Shiffrin enter more events than she did at worlds in 2019 in Sweden when she was on an historic roll.

It’s also different to see Mikaela enter back-to-back events at a major championship. Weather during the 2018 Olympics in South Korea forced the giant slalom and slalom to consecutive days. Shiffrin won gold in the GS, had to do all the ceremonies and then finished fourth in the slalom, where she was the defending gold medalist. (While saying all the right things as Shiffrin always does, it wasn’t hard to read between the lines that she did not consider the situation optimal.)

My bet is that Shiffrin and others are using the combined as a pseudo-training run. The speed element is super-G, which is also being held the next day. Of course, there will be different course sets for the super-Gs, but it makes sense.

Were this a normal year, this is an automatic Mikaela win. This is not a normal year. Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova has made great strides in super-G during the last year and her slalom credentials are impeccable.

Vlhova, Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin and Shiffrin.

Super-G, Tuesday

Yes, I want to pull the trigger on Mikaela.

Honesty time. I don’t think this is going to be Mikaela’s world championships. I want to be wrong. I want the Vail Daily to run the headline, “FREUD IS AN IDIOT.” We’ll do that if Shiffrin is able to enter her human-cyborg form of 2019.

Yet this would be her first super-G in more than a year since her win in Bansko, Bulgaria, on Jan. 26, 2020, and that is a darn tall order given how her and everyone else’s worlds have changed.

Goofy stuff happens at worlds, so let’s do Ester Ledecka. The Czech Republic snowboarder did it at the Olympics two years ago. Why not at worlds? Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami and Austria’s Tamara Tippler round out the podium.

Downhill, Saturday

Lindsey Vonn storms out of retirement and wins. This is not as far-fetched as you think. Madame has 11 wins at Cortina, five in the downhill and could probably slide on her posterior down the piste and be in the points.

Italy's Sofia Goggia is the overwhelming favorite in the worlds downhill on Saturday in Cortina, Italy, and she and her teammates should do well during the next two weeks.(AP File Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

Italy’s Sofia Goggia is the overwhelming favorite, having won four downhills this year and being on home snow — Italians will be rooting for her in spirit as there are no fans allowed.

We call for an Italian day with Elena Courtoni in second and American Breezy Johnson firmly entrenched in third.

Giant slalom, Feb. 18

Now we get down to the business portion of worlds. Yes, most of the world is obsessed with speed, but the tech events are the life blood of the world championships, right?

If we get outside of our, “Rah, rah, Mikaela,” bubble, we see that Mikaela is just not herself, particularly in the GS, this year. Again, we hope she is in some special camp where she’s combining military might and a zen-like state of focus to prepare for worlds. We know this is the missing medal in the collection — she’s got everything else from the Olympics or worlds.

Just not this year.

Italy’s Marta Bassino is being Shiffrin-like with four wins in six starts in the discipline, so call it Bassino-Vlhova-Italy’s Federica Brignone.

Slalom, Feb. 20

Again, This is not going to be her world championships. Shiffrin’s run of titles ends with 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019. She’ll be back. Shiffrin will roll again — at times — like the 2018-19 season. (It is completely unreasonable to expect a full season like that again.)

Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova appears to be a major road block to Mikaela Shiffrin’s aspirations at the 2021 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, which start on Monday in Cortina, Italy. (AP File Photo/Giovanni Auletta)

Shiffrin will win discipline globes again in slalom and GS. She will win the World Cup championship again. She will win races at worlds at Courchevel, France, in 2023 and beyond. She will win a gold in Beijing in 2022.

And, just in case, we share Shiffrin’s social-media post after she won for the first time in Courchevel on Dec. 14 after her father passed in February. She wrote, “Cheers to the wonderful and kind people who said I lost my fire forever. This one’s for you. Also this one’s for every single person who is helping me get the fire back.”

Nonetheless, we go Vlhova, Shiffrin and Austia’s Katharina Liensberger.

The men’s predictions will be in Friday’s paper.

Lindsey Vonn has successful World Cup TV color debut

Lindsey Vonn had a great debut as a color commentator for the Olympic Channel’s coverage of Saturday’s women’s World Cup downhill in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. (AP File Photo/Marcio Sanchez)

As Italy’s Sofia Goggia came to the finish area during Saturday’s women’s World Cup downhill in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, the color commentator on the Olympic Channel said, “This time is going to be very difficult to beat. She’s going to get another win. I would place a lot of money on that.”

Though Goggia was only the ninth racer of the day, Lindsey Vonn was right on the mark as the Italian won and two of her fellow teammates finished in the top four, with Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami in second.

With Dan Hicks on the play-by-play, Vonn had a successful color-commentary debut with quick insights to the race as they were happening. Though Hicks set her up nicely, Vonn was prepared with research and her encyclopedic Alpine knowledge from her career.

Vonn overcame a common difficulty for a lot of athletes transitioning to the broadcast booth — being able to criticize her contemporaries and former teammates. And she was able to avoid any controversy when talking about Mikaela Shiffrin, who is not racing this weekend in Switzerland ahead of her giant slalom in Kronplatz, Italy, on Tuesday.

Ledecka crashes

Ironically, it was skier-snowboarder Ester Ledecka, the 2018 super-G Olympic champion, who really gave Vonn her first chance to shine. Hicks set Vonn up nicely with a question of how Ledecka could balance both sports, and Lindsey said it wasn’t as big of an adjustment as one thinks because the Czech racer has “a certain touch for the snow.”

Just as she was making that comment, Ledecka missed a critical left turn and flew into the netting to the right.

“Ohhh, wow, that was unfortunate because that was an unnecessary error,” Vonn said without hesitation. “She just let her ski get a little wide (on a turn) there. She thought she could pull it off.”

Of course, Vonn knows a wee bit about crashing. Yes, she has 82 career World Cup wins, but those came with some tumbles. That experience was critical on Ledecka’s crash, when Vonn said with relief, “Her skis came off fast.”

Indeed as the replay proceeded and was replayed, Ledecka’s skis indeed popped off quickly as they are intended and she was able to make her way down the hill under her own power.

That turn soon became a focal point of the race and Vonn was right on it. Two racers after Ledecka wiped out, Goggia was entering that section of the course.

“Let’s make sure she doesn’t make the same mistake that Ledecka does — be strong on that outside ski on this blind roll,” Vonn said.

Goggia slid a little on the turn, Vonn said, but made it through successfully.

The elephant in the room

Vonn pegged the outcome of the race as it was happening and had some other nice insights in her broadcast debut.

  • On American Breezy Johnson, who finished fifth on Saturday after four straight third-place results in downhill this season: “… She just makes small mistakes here and there.” Vonn added that Johnson is not far from winning and that she probably should have won in Val d’Isere, France, and St. Anton, Austria.
  • Vonn is still connected with most of the women’s racers and apparently receives voicemails from Goggia on a regular basis, including one from after Saturday’s race. While Vonn couldn’t play the voicemail on air because of technology issues, she was able sum up Goggia’s thoughts on her day, which was a nice touch.
  • On Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, who was seventh: “All she really needs to do is have solid results like this . … This is exactly what she has to do to win the overall this year. She’s got to get these points when Mikaela’s not racing.“
  • Speaking of which, Shiffrin of course came up during the 90-minute broadcast. When asked about Mikaela’s tech-only approach to the 2020-21 season, Vonn was diplomatic: “She definitely hasn’t had the amount of training she normally does,” Vonn said. “She hasn’t been quite as dominant in slalom and GS as she normally is. If I was as talented as she was, I would always be doing five events, but that’s the different mentality that she has. She has been exceptionally successful the way she’s approached it. If she thinks that’s what she needs to succeed in the World Championships, then she should, by all means, do it.”

A final question

Vonn will be also announcing Sunday’s super-G. (The Olympic Channel is showing the super-G starting at 3:58 a.m. Mountain Time, so set your DVRs or program the coffee machine accordingly. NBC Sports Network is airing a replay at 4:30 p.m. Sunday as well.)

But is color commentary something Vonn wants to do during her post-racing career? Is this a test drive for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Cortina, Italy, next month?

The answers are maybe and maybe. Since retiring after the 2019 worlds downhill, Vonn’s understandably in a time of transition. For 34 of her 36 years on the planet, Vonn has pretty much been fixated on skiing, so life after skiing is understandably different.

This is an option, but certainly not her only one.

Most importantly, how does Vonn handle a race in which Shiffrin competes?

Publicly, the two greatest ski racers in American history are cordial, but there has been some tension between the two camps, most notably during the 2019 worlds in Are, Sweden.

We don’t know the answer to that question unless this weekend was, in fact, a tryout for worlds.

Stay tuned.

Breezy breezes to third again … and news and notes

In a shocking development, American Breezy Johnson celebrates her third-place finish at Friday’s World Cup downhill in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. (AP Photo/Marco Tacca)

Seriously, what are the odds?

American up-and-comer Breezy Johnson took third in Friday’s World Cup in Crans-Montana, Switzerland.

Four races during a span of more than a month, in three different countries in a sport that is measured in hundredths-of-seconds, and the Jackson Hole, Wyoming, native takes third four times in a row, dating back to Dec. 18 in Val d’Isere, France..

Just for kicks and giggles, let’s look at Lindsey Vonn’s and Mikaela Shiffrin’s career. Neither finished in any position four times in a row, except for first place.

Vonn won four races in a row from Dec. 4-12, 2015 — that was a good week — with three races in Lake Louise, Alberta, (big shock) and a victory in Are, Sweden.

The only other time she finished in the same place in four races in a row was 2011 — the hat-trick thumping of Lake Louise and then a Val d’Isere super-G that was moved to Beaver Creek on Dec. 7 of that year. Vonn won on home snow and the Daily ran the headline, “No place like home.”

While Vonn is the more appropriate comparison for Johnson because they race speed, Shiffrin seems to be the master of the streak. Three times in her career, she’s won five races in a row — Jan 15-Feb. 19, 2019 (not including worlds), Dec. 12-Dec. 22, 2018, and Jan 1-9, 2018.

In retrospect, having two five-race winning streaks in one season explains a lot of how she rang up a record 17 World Cup wins that season. For the trivia junkies, Shiffrin also finished first four times in a row from Dec.1-29, 2016.

So, if you’re Breezy Johnson, you’re doing something that Vonn and Shiffrin have done — finish in the same place four straight times in a race — and anytime you’re in the same sentence with those two you’re in good shape.

Yes, you’re frustrated that you haven’t taken the final two steps on the podium, but there is something to be said for consistency, even if taken to statistically improbable heights. Even looking at this through red, white and blue glasses, Johnson’s podium run of late makes her a legitimate contender in any downhill race be it the World Cup, the FIS Alpine Ski World Championships in Cortina, Italy, in February and the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.

News and notes from the white circus

You know it’s a strange year when the Wengen downhill is contested in Kitzbuehel, Austria. The marquee Swiss race was moved because … you guessed it, COVID-19.

In Friday’s Wengen DH in Kitzbuehel — I just typed that? — Travis Ganong was the top American in 11th. Jared Goldberg with 19th and Bryce Bennett 24th. Ryan Cochran-Siegle was a DNF and injured.

That’s disappointing given how RCS has been racing recently — two top 10s in downhill and a super-G victory. But as Scarlett O’Hara said in “Gone with the Wind,” “Tomorrow is another day,” for the U.S. Ski Team.

And by the time you read this in print, tomorrow is today and Kitzbuehel is hosting the Kitzbuehel downhill, as opposed to Wengen hosting the Hahnenkamm.

Could we have some bumps?

The Vail Daily hasn’t reported anything on the world of moguls since Dec. 16-17, when Tess Johnson and Kai Owens returned from Scandinavia. Surprisingly, this is not the result of your sports editor blowing off his job and watching too much football on TV. (OK, he is still doing the latter.)

There have been no competitions since stops in Ruka, Finland, and Idre Fjall, Sweden, in early December. Everything’s been canceled/postponed. In theory/cross your fingers, the tour resumes with Deer Valley, Utah for singles on Feb. 4 and the dual format on Feb. 5.

There is also the question of the FIS Snowboard and Freestyle Skiing World Championships. Originally scheduled for China, that edition was canceled (COVID-19). Calgary, Alberta, tried to step in to host but couldn’t meet health requirements with the pandemic.

So, we’re still looking for a place. Cookshack, anyone?