Shiffrin finishes fifth in Killington slalom, Holdener ties with Swenn Larsson for top spot
KILLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Wendy Holdener’s lengthy wait for a slalom victory came to an end on Sunday although the Swiss skier had to share top spot with Anna Swenn Larsson.
Mikaela Shiffrin was bidding for a sixth straight win in Killington, Vermont, and the American was fastest in the first run but finished fifth, 0.59 seconds behind the winning duo.
It was Holdener’s first slalom win after finishing 30 times on the podium for the unwanted record of most World Cup podium finishes without a win in the discipline.
“I don’t know what to say, I am so happy and I have a lot of emotions,” the 29-year-old Holdener said. “It’s a dream come true and I fight really hard for this one so I’m super happy.”
It was a first individual World Cup success for the 31-year-old Swenn Larsson of Sweden.
“I gave it all and to be tied first when I came into the finish was such a relief,” she said. “In the end it’s perfect so now we can share our first win together.”
Holdener had finished the first run 0.21 seconds behind Shiffrin. When Holdener crossed the line to find she had exactly matched the combined time of Swenn Larsson, both skiers appeared shocked and delighted.
They then had to wait for Shiffrin, the overall World Cup champion, who was the favorite to claim another win in Killington.
Shiffrin had won all five World Cup slaloms held there and also emerged victorious in the two season-opening slalom races last weekend.
While Shiffrin hails from Vail, Colorado, she can almost consider Killington a hometown race as she honed her skills nearby at the Burke Mountain Academy as a teenager.
Despite being cheered on by a passionate crowd, Shiffrin had a disappointing second run after losing time on the lower half of the course.
Katharina Truppe of Austria was third — 0.22 behind Holdener and Swenn Larsson — and ahead of Olympic champion and last season’s World Cup slalom winner Petra Vlhová.
After winning the opening two World Cup slaloms in Levi, Finland, last weekend, Shiffrin had a tougher time in Killington, placing 13th Saturday in the giant slalom and finishing the weekend without a podium. After her first run on Saturday, Shiffrin told NBC reporters that it was hard to find her rhythm earlier on because of the lack of speed on the tightly-set course.
Vail Daily staff contributed to this report.
Sunday’s Vail Daily cover photo: American hero
Mikaela Shiffrin takes 13th as Gut-Behrami wins Killington World Cup giant slalom
After winning the opening two World Cup slaloms in Levi, Finland, last weekend, Mikaela Shiffrin placed 13th Saturday in the Killington World Cup giant slalom in Killington, Vermont. Swiss skier Lara Gut-Behrami won the event in a combined time of 1 minute, 44.08 seconds. Giant slalom specialist Marta Bassino (1:44.15) took second and Sara Hector (1:44.28) rounded out the podium in third. It was the Swiss skier’s 35th career World Cup win and fifth career giant slalom victory.
Shiffrin sat in 10th after the first run, 1.36 seconds behind then leader Hector, the defending Olympic giant slalom champion. After the first run, Shiffrin, who has placed fifth, second, fourth and third in previous Killington giant slaloms, told NBC reporters that it was hard to find her rhythm earlier on because of the lack of speed on the tightly-set course.
Gut-Behrami, agreed. “It was a really different set,” she said. “The first run was slow which I don’t really like usually, but I tried to ski clean and that is the thing I am really happy about my skiing today because there were two different runs and two different course settings and I was able to ski both of them.”
On the more open set second-run “Superstar” course, Shiffrin ignored the 25-mph winds and found her speed early. She ceded time on the lower portions of the course, however, losing her tempo in-between turns and finishing with a time of 1:45.48, 1.20 seconds behind Gut-Behrami, the 2022 Olympic super-G champion.
“I think some turns I was a little bit cleaner, but it’s a timing thing,” she told NBC’s Heather Cox afterward. “When I miss the timing then I lose a lot more time than I should. We’re going to watch the video and see what to improve for the next races. For now, it’s kind of switching to the slalom gears and I’ve had much more preparation in slalom, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
“It’s amazing with this crowd; you can feel it with this rumbling,” she said of the American fan support. “It’s pretty special to have a race in my career where you get that feeling because it’s not every race. But here, they always bring that energy that’s unbelievable.”
When asked how she planned to prepare for Sunday, she said she was headed up the hill to get in some slalom work before the lifts shut down.
“So, see if I can get the quick feet moving,” she said.
“It’s just a total change of mentality; it’s really a totally different event. So, try to bring back some of the feeling I had in Levi and see what happens.”
Shiffrin remains in first in the World Cup overall standings with 220 points, 50 clear of Petra Vlhova (170). Hector (141), Wendy Holdener (140) and Katharina Liensberger (101) round out the overall top five.
O’Brien returns to snow
Nina O’Brien’s “Fracture Friday” story has its ‘redemption’ moment. O’Brien, who broke her leg in the Olympics in February and spoke to the Vail Daily during her recovery from the accident in Edwards this spring, qualified for a second run (26th place in the first run) in her return to World Cup competition on Saturday. She wound up finishing 23rd overall. Paula Moltzan was the second-highest American finisher in 18th, with Katie Hensien coming in 27th.
Fellow Americans and SSCV alumnae Ava Sunshine and Allie Resnick did not qualify for a second run, finishing 46th and 47th, respectively.
Shiffrin looks to keep streaks going at Killington World Cup races
If John Madden had to describe the Mikaela Shiffrin-version of a turducken, he’d probably say something like, “Now, now, you see what we got here is (draws random lines across the T.V. screen) a regular winning streak wrapped in a really, really big winning streak, baked inside an all-time record.”
The American star, home — sort of — for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, is bringing a couple of streaks and a few different record attempts into the Killington World Cup on Saturday (giant slalom) and Sunday (slalom).
First of all, she’s 2-for-2 this season, having swept both slaloms in Levi (FIN) last weekend. Further, the Vail Valley native has won all five slalom events ever held at the Vermont resort, located just two hours down the road from Burke Mountain Academy, the Olympic champion’s old stomping grounds.
“She has won every single year and we are going to see if she can again,” Kristel Killary, communications manager for Killington, told MassLive.com on Thursday. “She is such a favorite. When she comes down the course, the energy from the crowd is amazing. You don’t have to look up to know she is coming down.”
As for other potential record-breaking moments — well, let’s just say the guy at Elias Sports Bureau tasked solely with keeping track of Shiffrin’s records (and soon-to-be records) is already longing for April. Last week, she tied Vreni Schneider (1984/85-1994/95) and Renate Götschl by winning at least one race in 11 consecutive seasons. The big one, though, remains the pursuit of Lindsey Vonn’s all-time women’s World Cup wins record (82) and Ingemar Stenmark’s overall mark (86).
Killington World Cup schedule
10 a.m. ET – Women’s giant slalom (run 1) – Killington, Vermont, streaming on Outside
1 p.m. ET, Women’s giant slalom (run 2) – Killington, Vermont, streaming on Outside // Peacock/ broadcast live on NBC
Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022
10:15 a.m. ET, Women’s slalom (run 1) – Killington, Vermont, streaming on Outside
1:15 p.m. ET, Women’s slalom (run 2) – Killington, Vermont, streaming on Outside// Peacock/ broadcast live on NBC
One thing is for sure, Shiffrin — though she’d be justified to do so — isn’t resting on her laurels.
“As soon as you cross the finishing line the clock resets and when you wake up tomorrow you have to earn it all over again,” Shiffrin posted on social media after arriving in the U.S. this week.
Skiing fast and making it to the podium takes more than just training, it takes financial backing to support the athletes and their goals. Stifel Financial just inked a deal with U.S. Ski & Snowboard to provide financial support, sponsorship of races and financial education to the athletes.
The United States is unique in that no national team is funded by the government, rather they are entirely supported through private funding, which includes the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team. U.S. Ski & Snowboard relies heavily on donations from individuals, corporations and foundations to support the national team athletes, including their pre-season preparation period.
“U.S. Ski & Snowboard is the Olympic National Governing Body of ski and snowboard sports in the USA and represents nearly 200 elite skiers and snowboarders competing on seven teams; alpine, cross country, freeski, freestyle, snowboard, Nordic combined and ski jumping. All teams apart from development and rookie teams are fully funded,” said Anouk Patty, Chief of Sport, U.S. Ski & Snowboard.
Stifel is a financial services holding company headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, and was founded in 1890.
“Stifel is a place where success meets success. We understand the skill, dedication, and perseverance it takes to be successful in any endeavor, and we recognize the importance of having the right people to provide support along the way,” said Stifel chairman and CEO Ronald J. Kruszewski. “The athletes of the U.S. Alpine Ski Team exemplify focus and perseverance and represent the very definition of success, which is exactly the type of partner we want to align with.”
Kruszewski and Stifel have supported U.S. Ski & Snowboard in the past by hosting fundraisers. The most recent event was held in St. Louis on Oct. 1, where $800,000 was raised for the athletes. Mikaela Shiffrin was at the fundraiser, cowboy hat and all, at this western-themed event and was thankful for the generosity according to her Facebook post on Oct. 2:
“A big thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to Ron and Stifel, for hosting his most successful fundraiser yet, directly benefiting U.S. Ski & Snowboard. Fundraisers like this are so vital to our Team and the development and success of all of our sports and athletes, since we receive no support from the government, in comparison with many of the nations we compete against.”
Stifel also has sponsorship agreements with the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, several PGA golfers and is the presenting sponsor of the Haskins and ANNIKA Awards, which honor the nation’s top collegiate golfers, and the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl. Kruszewski has a personal tie to the sport since he splits his time between St. Louis and Vail.
“My happy place is anytime I can spend time skiing and being in the mountains,” Kruszewski said.
In addition to becoming the title sponsor of the U.S. Alpine Team, the new agreement with Stifel includes title sponsorship of the men’s FIS Alpine Ski World Cup event in Palisades Tahoe, California and as a sponsor of the additional men’s FIS Alpine Ski World Cup events in Beaver Creek and Aspen.
“The International Federation of Skiing (FIS) has recognized the impact that World Cup racing has on fans and spectators in the U.S.,” Patty said. “This year, FIS added more races onto the calendar to reach the demand. New to the circuit this year is the Palisades Tahoe FIS World Cup, which will include a downhill and a super-G course with an expected crowd size of over 15,000 fans and the same speed athletes that have been racing the 2022-23 World Cup circuit.”
Stifel also will establish a career and financial education program for the athletes.
“Being an athlete involves setting goals for training and performance. Having clear financial goals is equally important,” Kruszewski said. “We believe through financial literacy, we can help reduce the level of financial stress and anxiety often felt by young athletes. We have been helping individuals with wealth planning since 1890 and we are excited about the opportunity to create a financial education program to help athletes with savings and investing strategy. This is a key element of our partnership.”
The athletes are excited about the support and opportunity to learn as well.
“It is great to partner with Stifel and I am looking forward to learning how to save and invest for my future beyond ski racing,” said Tommy Ford, who has been with the team since 2009. Ford won the Birds of Prey giant slalom at Beaver Creek in 2019.
Cheer on the Stifel U.S. Alpine Team as the women head to Killington, Vermont, and the men head to Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada, over Thanksgiving weekend. The following weekend, the women’s team heads to Lake Louise and the men descend upon the Birds of Prey at Beaver Creek.
Mikaela Shiffrin wins Sunday’s World Cup slalom to complete Levi double
According to her Instagram story from last night, Mikaela Shiffrin reportedly was still trying to figure out a name for the reindeer she won in Saturday’s World Cup Alpine ski opener. Now, she has two to name.
Shiffrin completed the back-to-back in Levi, Finland, on Sunday, claiming her 76th World Cup victory a day after opening the season with No. 75. It was her 68th slalom podium and 122nd-career World Cup podium (in 220 starts).
“I really didn’t expect today,” Shiffrin told FIS reporters after her sixth win on the Levi slope.
“I mean even after the first run, I think everyone who is racing is so strong right now and there’s so much, actually, a little bit of luck.”
Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener finished second (+0.28) and Petra Vlhova was third (+0.67).
Vlhova went back-to-back in both 2020 and 2021 in Levi, but came away with two third-place finishes this year.
“Yeah I am satisfied,” Vlhova said in the postrace interview. “Could be a little bit better, but still I am happy. Thank you so much for an amazing crowd and see you next year.”
In Saturday’s event, Shiffrin told FIS she was conservative in the first run.
“It was a nice feeling on the first run, I felt pretty good, but I was holding back a little bit,” she said on Saturday. “On the second run, I made adjustments and it felt like a really good pace and tempo. I was strong and solid everywhere.”
With almost identical weather on the hill Sunday, Shiffrin skied aggressively, posting the day’s top first-run mark of 56.86 seconds; she built her lead on the first and final sectors, where she had the second-fastest and fastest splits, respectively. Lena Duerr, who slipped from first to fourth on Saturday, trailed the American by 0.07 seconds, with Vlhova (56.96) in third, Holdener (57.07) in fourth, and Norwegian Thea Louise Stjernesund (57.21) in fifth.
In the second run, Swedish giant slalom specialist Sara Hector was thrilled to grab the lead as the final seven athletes filed in to stake their claim. The Olympic giant slalom gold medalist was quickly unseated by Holdener, however, who jumped into the lead by an astonishing 1.11 seconds.
Vlhova came out of the gates fiercely but lost time in the first sector. She gained 0.02 hundredths back in the second, but Holdener’s blazing third was too much for the Beijing slalom gold medalist to overcome. Duerr also lost her advantage right from the start, slipping into third with Shiffrin remaining.
The American lost time out of the gate as well — 0.06 in the first sector and another five-hundredths in the second. Amazingly, it was in the third where she reestablished her pole position. The 27-year-old Edwards skier carved up the steep section of the slope, gaining 0.02 on Holdener in the penultimate sector and another 0.16 in the final split to finish with the fastest second run of the day by 0.07 seconds (55.35).
“I’ve been working hard all preparation, my coaches have been working like crazy — the whole team — and training here with the U.S. girls,” Shiffrin continued. “Training with Paula last week — she’s been pushing me to my limit and that was such good practice for the race, and I’m just very happy.”
Shiffrin pointed to her having trained in Finland leading up to the event as being a reason for her improvement on Saturday.
“Last year I felt jet-lagged, all week, I was awake from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. every night, I didn’t eat well,” she told FIS on Saturday. “This year I didn’t have the jet lag, I feel fit and strong. It paid off.”
Shiffrin was joined by a few more Americans in Sunday’s second run. Paula Moltzan, who was 12th after the first run, was having an exceptional second run before catching a tip and wiping out just a few gates from the finish. Ava Sunshine Jemison, who claimed World Cup points in her debut on Saturday, had a strong first run, but faltered some on the second to move from 23rd to 27th. Former University of Denver NCAA champion Katie Hensien also made the top 30, finishing in 26th.
“These last two days were spectacular,” Shiffrin said. “Thank you, Levi.”
Shiffrin skis to 48th-career World Cup slalom win in Levi
The sun may have been setting at 2:20 p.m. in Levi, Finland, on Saturday as athletes pulled into the starting gate for their second runs, but for Mikaela Shiffrin, it was about to become a beautiful metaphorical sunrise on her 12th full World Cup season. The 27-year-old claimed her 48th World Cup slalom victory with a combined time of 1 minute, 51.25 seconds, edging out Sweden’s Anna Svenn-Larsson (1:51.41) and five-time Levi winner Petra Vlhova (1:51.45).
“Yeah this is amazing,” Shiffrin said to FIS reporters after, quickly turning to praise her teammate Ava Sunshine Jemison, who was sitting next to her. Jemison, the World Junior silver medalist last year in the super-G and a Ski and Snowboard Club Vail alumna, finished 21st in her World Cup debut.
“Really strong skiing, really good final in that last bit of the pitch — yeah, super cool,” Shiffrin said.
It was the 48th World Cup slalom victory for Shiffrin and her 67th slalom podium — both records. The latter is the most women’s World Cup podiums in a single discipline, a mark she had held with Lindsey Vonn (66, downhill).
The Edwards superstar came in having won the Levi slalom four times (2013, 2016, 2018, 2019) and placed on the podium five other times — including two second-place finishes to Vlhova last November.
Racing on compact snow under cloudy skies, with the temperature around -8 degrees Celsius at the start, Germany’s Lena Duerr (54.48) set the standard in the first run, with Swenn-Larsson (54.93) in second. Shiffrin and Vlhova were neck and neck in third and fourth, respectively, with the American (55.03) holding a two-hundredths of a second advantage over the 27-year-old from Slovakia (55.05).
In the final run, Katharina Liensberger, the slalom crystal globe winner in 2020-21, moved up from 16th into the top five thanks to a 56.89 in her second, a time that ended up being the field’s fourth-fastest second run.
Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener, who came into the race having recorded 29 World Cup podium finishes in the women’s slalom without a win (14 times second and 15 times third) — the most ever by an Alpine skier in a single discipline, rocketed into first with five athletes remaining.
Vlhova, racing fourth-to-last, blasted the Levi Black’s 180-meter drop slope, blazing to the finish in 56.40 to go into first. Next up was Shiffrin.
The American trailed Vlhova by 0.14 on the first section and 0.12 on the second. She skied smoothly through the steep section, however, which proved pivotal. When she hit the third checkpoint, she held a 0.28-second advantage. At the finish, she was up 0.20, having clocked in at 56.22, the fastest second run of the day.
Svenn-Larrson wasn’t able to manage the steep section with Shiffrin’s poise, and though the Swede held small advantages at the top of the hill, ultimately finished 0.16 seconds behind the American in second.
Duerr had a lot of time to work with, holding a 0.55 lead from the first run. The pressure of duplicating Shiffrin’s second run seemed evident, however, particularly in the latter stages of the course, where the German lost huge chunks of time. She ended up finishing in 57.52, the 14th-fastest second run of the day, to place fourth overall.
Fellow Americans Paula Moltzan and A.J. Hurt did not finish the first run, while Katie Hensien (57.37, 38th) and Nina O’Brien (57.48, 42nd) failed to finish in the top 30 and qualify for a second.
At the finish line, FIS reporters asked Jemison if she was going to help Shiffrin name her reindeer, the customary winner’s prize at the Finnish event.
“We were thinking Angelina Jolie,” Jemison remarked.
“Oh, yep, that’s it!” Shiffrin laughed as the pair’s brief interview concluded.
Vlhova will have to wait until tomorrow to go for a sixth win on Finnish soil.
“Congratulations to the girls; it was good fighting and looking forward to racing tomorrow,” she said in the post-race interview. “I will try to do everything tomorrow to get a sixth.”
The event’s second slalom starts at 2 a.m. MST on Sunday, with the second run going off at 5 a.m. MST; both are being streamed on SkiAndSnowboard.live.
“I think there’s like five or six girls who could take it, so it’s good fighting and I’m happy to be here today,” Shiffrin said. “Tomorrow, we just go again.”
World Cup notebook: Levi gets the green light, Brignone trains at Copper and Vonn’s men vs. women idea still captures imagination 10 years later
The women’s Alpine ski World Cup is set to open in Levi (FIN) with a pair of slalom races on Nov. 19-20.
“Due to the unfortunate cancellations of the World Cup competitions, we are finally ready to open the women’s World Cup season and we are looking forward to this,” Peter Gerdol, Chief of race directors told FIS.
Events scheduled for October in Soelden and Zermatt-Cervinia were canceled because of weather and a lack of snow. Thanks to nearly 60,000 cubic meters of stored snow on its Black ski slope in the spring, the snow control at Levi Ski Resort was “a routine inspection.”
“We have seen the organizing committees and the Levi Ski Resort hard work, which they have done on the slope in the last few weeks. The slope and the snow are ready for the competition,” Gerdol continued.
Though much of the U.S. Ski Team is in the middle of a training block at Copper Mountain, the women’s tech team has joined several other nations’ Alpine teams in training on the Front slope and the Levi Black race slope.
It’s my first time in Levi to train before the competition and I’m glad we’re here,” Mikaela Shiffrin told FIS. “Now I also have time to get to know Levi, because there is usually a rush and a bit of stress during the competition, and there is not much time left for anything else.”
Shiffrin has won at Levi four times in her career. Her chief slalom rival, Petra Vlhova, is a five-time winner. Vlhova is currently training at the venue as well.
“It’s been good conditions to practice here,” she told FIS. “I like Levi’s race and the slope, because it offers everything that a slalom track should have. I’m trying to win again this year, but it won’t be easy, the other women are fast and skilled.”
Brignone heads to Copper Mountain
Ski Racing reported that 2019-20 World Cup overall champion Federica Brignone started a 10-day training block with her Italian teammates at Copper Mountain starting on Nov. 9. The giant slalom and super-G specialist expressed disappointment with the Soelden GS and Zermatt-Cervinia downhill cancellations, but has since “shifted gears” by heading to the U.S. to prepare for the Killington World Cups, which are scheduled for Nov. 26-27.
U.S. Ski Team media days will take place at the resort next week.
Men vs. Women: Vonn’s 2012 dream still intrigues today’s World Cup athletes
It’s been 10 years since Lindsey Vonn announced her plan to compete in a men’s World Cup downhill at Lake Louise in November 2012. Though it never transpired, the idea still intrigues today’s stars.
“If it’s just for a show and for excitement and a spectacle? Great, let’s do it. I think people would be interested in it,” Mikaela Shiffrin told The Associated Press on the eve of the canceled giant slalom in Soelden Austria at the end of October.
“Is it to prove the point that this is something women deserve in the sport, or that we are good enough to win men’s World Cup races? On average, that’s not a comparable thing. That’s comparing apples and oranges.”
“It is interesting, where we have so many amazing athletes and yet we are split,” added Olympic super-G silver medalist Ryan Cochran-Siegle. “It was unfortunate with Lindsey, because I did think it would be cool, especially in Lake Louise where she has had so much success.”
Not everyone is on board, however.
“Men and women, you cannot compare them, they have different bodies,” Petra Vlhova told The AP. “If you do some races with the men, it’s because you want to be everywhere in the newspaper. I don’t need to do that.”
World Cup notebook: U.S. Ski and Snowboard raises $2 million at Gold Medal Gala
The 56th annual Gold Medal Gala — U.S. Ski and Snowboard’s largest annual fundraising event — returned to New York City on Oct. 27 and raised a record $2 million for the organization. The event included 500 passionate supporters of the team as well as 32 past and present athletes.
“We are immensely grateful to everyone who attended the event, both in person and virtually,” Sophie Goldschmidt, president and CEO of U.S. Ski & Snowboard stated in a press release.
“To be in the same room with some of the best athletes in the world is a privilege and what better way to end the gala than knowing we raised an incredible amount of money to help them achieve their dreams. Thank you to everyone who donated and who continuously supports these incredible athletes year after year.”
During the event, Lindsey Vonn awarded five-time Olympian Shaun White the Golden Goat statue to honor the snowboarder’s transcendent legacy.
“But I am adapting to life after competition. I am still challenging myself in new ways, but there’s definitely nothing like racing down an icy mountain at 85 miles an hour. And there never will be anything like it, so I’ll just try to get my kicks wherever I can.”
Cancelled women’s giant slalom to be rescheduled in Semmering
U.S. Ski and Snowboard appoints snowboard and freeski sport directors
Two longtime U.S. Ski and Snowboard coaches were appointed to new positions on Monday. Former halfpipe head coach, Rick Bower, who has led athletes to 14 Olympic medals since joining U.S. Ski and Snowboard in 2006, was appointed to Snowboard Sport Director. Skogen Sprang, a U.S. Freeski Team slopestyle and big air head coach since 2012, was named Freeski Sport Director.
“I am very excited to continue my work with the U.S. Snowboard Team,” Bower stated in a press release. “Not only are these tremendous athletes, but incredible people to be around. My focus in this new role will continue to be giving them the tools and opportunities to excel.”
Bower is a five-time International Snowboard Coach of the Year and has worked with Olympic medalists Kelly Clark, Gretchen Bleiler and Chloe Kim.
“Rick brings a deep understanding of what an athlete needs to achieve their full potential and how to build a program around those athletes,” Anouk Patty, U.S. Ski & Snowboard chief of sport also stated in the release. “He will lead from experience with passion and purpose and we are super excited to see this snowboard team soar under Ricky’s leadership.”
Spranger was the U.S. Ski and Snowboard coach of the year in 2021; in three Olympics, he’s guided athletes to eight Olympic medals.
“I’ve been with the U.S. Freeski Team for years and have learned a great deal, which has given me the tools and knowledge to provide even more for this sport and go even bigger in the years to come,” Sprang stated in the release. “I look forward to continuing my work with these incredible athletes for years to come and cannot wait to see how this sport evolves in the future.”