Mikaela Shiffrin finishes sixth in Lake Louise, Sofia Goggia goes 3 for 3
LAKE LOUISE, Alberta (AP) — Sofia Goggia captured a World Cup super-G on Sunday to go 3 for 3 in races at Lake Louise.
The 29-year-old Italian finished in 1 minute, 18.28 seconds on a cold day to beat Swiss racer Lara Gut-Behrami by 0.11 seconds. Mirjam Puchner of Austria, starting 29th overall, finished in third place, while two-time Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin wound up in sixth place as she rounds into form after dealing with a back ailment.
Goggia won a pair of downhills on the Lake Louise hill leading into the super-G race. She was the 14th racer on the course Sunday and slightly behind Gut-Behrami’s time at the third interval. But Goggia found speed at the bottom of the course.
It was Goggia’s 14th career World Cup win and first in the super-G since 2019. She will try to defend her Olympic downhill title at the Beijing Games in two months.
Gut-Behrami picked up her 62nd World Cup podium. She’s the world champion in the super-G courtesy of her win last February in Italy.
Mikaela Shiffrin wins World Cup slalom at Killington to tie Stenmark’s mark
Edwards ski racer Mikaela Shiffrin upset Petra Vlhova of Slovakia Sunday to win the first women’s World Cup race in North America in two years.
The win puts Shiffrin even with racing legend Ingemar Stenmark at 46 wins in a single discipline.
Shiffrin has won all four previous World Cup slalom races in Killington, Vermont, which returned to World Cup hosting duties in 2021 after last year’s event was canceled because of the pandemic.
While the 26-year-old Shiffrin lives in Edwards, she can consider Killington a hometown race as she lived at the nearby Burke Mountain Academy campus as a teenager.
Shiffrin was passionately cheered on by the Killington crowd as she chased Stenmark’s record while also trying to protect her unbeaten streak there.
But while the crowd was loving the history-in-the-making moment, Shiffrin said it was not her focus.
“I won’t say it’s not meaningful, it certainly is, but I’m trying not to focus on those numbers,” Shiffrin told reporters after the event. “The closer I get to these marks, it’s hard not to think about it, and want that. I think any person would want to have those records that are named, but everybody on the mountain today wants to win, and just wanting it is not enough to actually do it … wanting it doesn’t do anything for you to actually do the work or ski well enough to make that happen.”
Wendy Holdener of Switzerland finished third.
Leading the World Cup
It was Shiffrin’s 110th podium in 196 World Cup starts.
Shiffrin won the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, but finished second to Vlhova — her biggest rival — in both slalom races in Levi, Finland, last week.
United State's Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates after finishing a women's World Cup slalom ski race Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, Killington, Vt. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
First-place finisher United State's Mikaela Shiffrin, center, poses beside second-place finisher Slovakia's Petra Vlhova, left, and third-place finisher Switzerland's Wendy Holdener after a women's World Cup slalom ski race Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, Killington, Vt. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
United State's Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates a first place finish in a women's World Cup slalom ski race Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, Killington, Vt. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Vlhova finished .20 seconds ahead of Shiffrin in the first run on Sunday in Killington, but Shiffrin won handily with a 48.26 second run that was by far the fastest on the day — even with a small mistake up top that Shiffrin quickly recovered from. In the slalom discipline of ski racing, two runs are taken, and the win is awarded to the skier with the lowest time when the two runs are added together.
Shiffrin lifted her arms over her head to soak in the cheers of the passionate home crowd before cupping her hand to her ear as she beamed broadly.
Then she turned to watch her rival.
Vlhova also made a mistake, and that cost her even more dearly than Shiffrin’s. The overall champion was almost a second slower than Shiffrin on the second run to ultimately finish .75 behind in second place.
Fifteenth-place Hanna Aronsson Elfman of Sweden, whose first run was 53.02, later notched the second-fastest run of the day with a time of 48.53.
Shiffrin, referencing her top speed on the second run, told reporters “I don’t know if I can ski faster slalom than that.”
The win pushes Shiffrin ahead of Vlhova in the overall World Cup standings.
“As we get farther into this season, and farther into my career, I think you’ll see that it’s difficult for me to keep that focus,” Shiffrin told reporters after the event. “Some days it’s there, and some days I’m a little bit more caught up in the emotion of it.”
—The Associated Press contributed to this report
U.S. Women’s Alpine prepares for World Cup on home soil
How appropriate that a day after Thanksgiving, the theme during Friday’s press conference heading into this weekend’s 2021 HomeLight Killington Alpine World Cup was family.
The next stop on the FIS Women’s Alpine ski World Cup starts Saturday in Killington, Vermont with the giant slalom at 8 a.m. and continues Sunday with the slalom at 7:45 a.m. Vail athletes Mikaela Shiffrin, Allie Resnick, Nina O’Brien and Paula Moltzan all expressed the value of a familial bond within the alpine team as well as the rare excitement of having their literal family members in attendance to witness them race on the biggest stage on home soil. For fans back home in Colorado, the races can be viewed on either Peacock or Ski and Snowboard Live, both of which require paid subscriptions.
Nina O’Brien’s first World Cup start came in Killington back in 2016, and her first World Cup points came there two years later. When asked what makes the place special, the Edwards native channeled her inner “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.”
“I think it’s just the feeling of being at home and seeing so many friendly faces. People greeting you on the way to breakfast or when you’re getting on the hill, or course workers waving to you as you’re getting on the lift,” O’Brien said in a press conference Friday. “All of those little details help make the event feel special and like I’m supported by every person there.”
Speaking of being at home, a wave of wet and ugly weather has Paula Moltzan sensing a home field advantage for the American contingent, many of whom raced out east either during their high school and/or college days. “We don’t often have a chance to have a big advantage on a World Cup. As Americans, sometimes your first time seeing it (a course) is on the World Cup,” Moltzan said.
Amidst the downpour of sleet that greeted athletes Friday, the former University of Vermont All-American remained positive, knowing she and her Eastern Collegiate Ski Association comrades have seen this type of unruly weather before. “As a college racer in the East, I saw a lot of bad weather and a lot of bad race days, so I feel grateful to have those hours on bad conditions.”
For Allie Resnick, who earned the trip through her stellar set of races at Copper Mountain last Friday — Tuesday, the trip to Vermont forced a change of flight plans that would have made Steve Martin and John Candy (and I promise this will be my last movie reference) proud.
Up until Wednesday, she assumed she would be flying to Europe to start the Europa Cup circuit. “I had my mind set, like ‘OK, you’re going to Europe, and if something good happens, you’re going to Killington,’” she said about her thoughts right after the Copper Mountain NorAm concluded. Well, suffice to say, something good happened for the Vail local.
“So, it was really a great surprise, and also something we’ve worked all off-season for,” Resnick said.
Resnick will be making her first World Cup giant slalom and slalom start, and close friend Zoe Zimmerman, who also raced at Copper, will be making her World Cup debut. Having a family of fans and competing alongside their sisters on the U.S. team family — some of whom they idolized just a few years ago — is a thrill for both. Zimmerman was a Burke Academy student in attendance for O’Brien’s 2016 start and remembers holding up a “Go Nina!” sign on-course at Killington.
“It was so cool, having all these people who I’ve looked up to who are now my friends who are succeeding in this sport. It’s really cool to watch and see, and I feel like they are laying out the path for all of us,” she said.
“The idea of this many American fans cheering for you was so inspiring for me,” Resnick said in regard to debuting in the slalom and giant slalom disciplines in the U.S. ”It really motivated me to want to be ready for the NorAms to put myself in a position to qualify.”
According to Shiffrin, the four-time winner of the Killington slalom who is coming off of a second-place finish in the event last weekend in Levi, the close-knit group has produced a noticeable depth the team has been lacking over her tenure.
“Leading up to Soelden and Levi, training with all the girls and feeling like we were all bringing the pace … I knew that the pace was coming from my own teammates,” she said.
“The fastest skiers in the world are on my team. That’s not a feeling I’ve had in my career before.”
The two-time Olympic champion, who said she senses the building pressure in the run-up to Beijing, feels renewed being able to lean on her teammates in training and racing.
”Like Allie and Zoe said, you become friends and you become like family when you’re on the road. It’s a different kind of level, consistency, depth and support that I’ve noticed building these last couple of years. It’s pretty cool.”
Shiffrin repeated the cozy, familial, homely sentiment of the event, mentioning her inner excitement for the newcomers to the World Cup scene.
“Feeling this home crowd and just being — this is a home race. This is the rare opportunity we get to race at home. Even for Allie coming from out west, it’s still home,” she said of her fellow Vail local.
“It’s just that home feeling. It’s so exciting.”
Mikaela Shiffrin second again to Petra Vlhova in second World Cup slalom in Finland
Same place. Same event. Same results.
Petra Vlhova made it two-for-two with a flawless second run to win another World Cup slalom event Sunday morning in Levi, Finland. Mikaela Shiffrin was right behind her rival, and Germany’s Lena Duerr rounded out the podium in third — the exact same podium as Saturday.
“I want to say thanks to my coach, my team, my family — without them I’m maybe not standing here,” Vlhova said after the race to FIS media. “I’m really happy — I don’t know what to say.”
Shiffrin’s first run was the second fastest overall, behind only Vlhova, but her second run was just the sixth fastest. A small hiccup 25 seconds into her second run, where the 26-year old failed to execute a clean right turn, losing control of her edges for a moment, caused her to lose valuable time.
“I am not disappointed with anything,” Shiffrin told the Associated Press after the race. “I was pushing, made a mistake, and we don’t know what would have happened without the mistake. But after that, I pushed even harder.”
Shiffrin, who has won this race four times, has now landed on the podium in 109 of her 195 World Cup starts. She is tied for the overall World Cup points lead with Vlhova after Sunday’s result. Both sit at 260 points. Vlhova currently leads the slalom points list with 200 points to Shiffrin’s 160.
It was the 22nd career win for Vlhova, her 14th in slalom and fifth in Levi. No skier other than Vlhova or Shiffrin has won the race in Finland since Tina Maze triumphed in 2014.
Lena Dürr placed third as the top three were identical to Saturday’s race. The German was .78 behind for her third career podium finish.
The victory earned Vlhova a fifth reindeer, a prize given to the race winner each year, and she named it after her brother, Boris, as “he is always with me and supports me.”
“I will do at home some small farm,” the Slovakian said jokingly. The animals remain on a local farm in Finland.
Having dealt with back pain that hampered her preparation for the last few weeks, Shiffrin was aiming for her 46th career win in slalom. It would have seen her match a 32-year-old record for most World Cup wins in a single discipline, set by Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark in giant slalom.
Her next chance to reach the mark comes in front of an American home crowd in Killington, Vermont, next Sunday.
“I have a little bit more confidence after feeling that I could push my skiing,” Shiffrin said. “And that’s a really big step,”
“It’s also a home race and I want to do well and have a good record there. So, there is some expectations, some pressure there as well, but it’s always very exciting to race in Killington.”
The race weekend on the East Coast also consists of a giant slalom on Saturday.
The Associated Press contributed original reporting to this story.
Mikaela Shiffrin edged by Petra Vlhova in first World Cup slalom of the season
LEVI, FINLAND — Petra Vlhova beat Mikaela Shiffrin in the first World Cup slalom of the season Saturday.
The Slovakian overall champion had been training for three weeks in Lapland and skipped a parallel event in Austria last week to get ready for the first race in her strongest discipline.
The tactics paid off.
Vlhova posted the fastest time in both runs. She initially lost a few hundredths from her slim lead of 0.11 over Shiffrin but accelerated near the end of her final run to win by 0.31 as the pair continued their dominance in the annual event in Lapland.
Lena Dürr finished 0.84 behind in third for the German skier’s second career podium result, nearly nine years after winning a city event in Moscow.
No skier other than Vlhova or Shiffrin has won the traditional season-opening slalom since then-overall champion Tina Maze triumphed in 2014. Shiffrin and Vlhova have now each won it four times.
It was Vlhova’s 21st career win and first since working with her Swiss coach Mauro Pini, who replaced Livio Magoni in the offseason.
Magoni had coached Vlhova for five years and the Italian helped her become the first overall champion from Slovakia, but he was forced to leave following unflattering remarks on Vlhova’s style of skiing reportedly made by him in an interview with an Italian newspaper.
“I feel more happy, more free. That’s it,” Vlhova said about working with Pini. “I don’t change if I change my coach. I’m still the same. Today was just an amazing day for me as well as for my team.”
Vlhova received her fourth reindeer, a prize for the winner of the race, and said she would name it Michal.
“That is the name of my boyfriend. He is here and he is the love of my life,” Vlhova said.
Having dealt with a back issue that hampered her training over the past few weeks, Shiffrin was made to wait at least one more day in her bid to match the 32-year-old record for most World Cup victories in a single discipline. Currently on 45 slalom wins, the American is one short of Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s best mark in giant slalom. Another slalom is scheduled for Sunday.
The American three-time overall champion was gracious in defeat.
“I think it was clear that Petra had, all together, better skiing and better consistency,” Shiffrin said.
“It’s easy to start getting greedy and I feel like in order to win races you really have to earn it and I earned the second place today but I didn’t quite earn the win.”
After three races, Shiffrin has 180 points and the overall lead, Andreja Slokar of Slovenia follows with 168 and Vlhova has 160.
“It was a quite successful day, especially when I look at the last three or four weeks,” Shiffrin said. “I had some good skiing and I had some sections that certainly weren’t perfect but still quite good. It’s always really great to start the season with a podium, so that’s awesome.”
Shiffrin was able to get on snow at Copper Mountain last week as she worked her way back from injury. Despite favorable snow conditions in Levi, Shiffrin told U.S. Ski and Snowboard that she lacked confidence going into a pitch like the Levi Black slope. “It was like the first five or six turns … I don’t know … it was like I was skiing backwards,” she was quoted as saying about her struggling to lock in timing at the beginning of the race. “It was just a little bit wrong timing, and it doesn’t take much to lose a lot of speed, especially with this snow because it’s so responsive.”
U.S. Ski and Snowboard reported that Shiffrin was pleased with her adjustments in the second run on the top flat section and is eager to bring those positives into tomorrow’s slalom.
“Tomorrow is a new race day, and we really have no idea what’s going to happen, but we’re going to fight,” Shiffrin stated.
Other locals saw action in Levi as well. Paula Moltzan, the Ski and Snowboard Club Vail local was in 18th after a decent first run, but DNFed her second.
Nina O’Brien, who lists Edwards as her hometown, did not qualify for a second run.
North American Cups 1 and 2 have been and are still taking place through Tuesday at Copper Mountain, and several locals and newly named U.S. team members have posted impressive results.
In the women’s giant slalom on Nov. 18, Allie Resnick was the top American, finishing 8th overall. Ava Sunshine Jemison was 0.04 seconds behind Resnick in 9th as three Americans — 17-year old Tatum Grosdidier being the other — finished in the top 10 in a field of athletes from Sweden, Italy, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Norway, Japan, Croatia, Belgium, Slovakia and Finland.
Nellie Talbot, a Vail native and former SSCV athlete currently racing for Montana State, nailed her second run and finished in 16th. 16-year olds Kjersti Moritz and Liv Moritz impressed for SSCV as well, placing 19th and 26th respectively. Kaitlin Keane, Gabriella Holm, Parker Biele and Carissa Cassidy of Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, earned second runs Thursday as well, finishing in the top 50. The winner was Estelle Alphand of Sweden.
The story Friday was Resnick’s first run — which placed her in fourth — and subsequent DNF in the second run, which knocked her out of the placing. Kjersti Moritz hopped into the top ten, however, and was the third American, less than a half second behind veterans Keely Cashman and Alix Wilkinson. Estelle finished behind winner Federica Brignone in Friday’s giant slalom.
On Saturday, four Americans placed in the top seven, with local Bridger Gile in sixth. Vail Mountain School senior Nick Kirwood showed no rust after a fall of leading the Gore Rangers through the state soccer playoffs, finishing in 39th, in front of a few former SSCV skiers now in the NCAA ranks, including Max Bervy, a senior at the University of Colorado. Kirwood moved up nine places after his second run. Jacob Dilling, a freshmen for the Buffs and former SSCV athlete as well, was 19th.
This article includes original reporting from Ryan Sederquist, Vail Daily.
Shiffrin returns to rigorous training with her back on mend
COPPER MOUNTAIN — Mikaela Shiffrin is once again putting her mending back through extreme tests: double training sessions filled with twists, turns and crouching into a tuck position to generate more speed.
Outside of a little stiffness — “Nothing that is not manageable,” the two-time Olympic gold medalist said — everything has checked out just fine. Another good sign is that Shiffrin was back out there at the U.S. ski team’s speed center at Copper Mountain on Friday, 24 hours after her first double dose of practice on the slopes in weeks.
One caveat: She will be careful. There are big goals ahead, after all, as the Beijing Games approach in February.
“I’m moving in the right direction. So that’s comforting in a way,” Shiffrin said in response to questions from The Associated Press. “It (the back) still gets aggravated sometimes, but that was a really, really big step forward (double training sessions). I was quite psyched with it.”
Shiffrin certainly turned in a full day on the slopes Thursday. On a cold morning, she went through a lengthy super-G training session. After a quick stop inside the resort to warm up a bit, stretch out her back, eat a sandwich and change equipment, she returned to the hill for slalom runs.
One thing her back is still getting used to is the stress generated by the tuck position.
“Different kind of load,” said Shiffrin, who worked on downhill and slalom Friday. “It’s just kind of adding variability back into the training program. That was awesome, awesome training.”
For now, her schedule looks like this: Slalom races next weekend in Levi, Finland, followed by a Nov. 27-28 stop in Killington, Vermont. Then speed events at Lake Louise in Canada in early December.
“We are still going to take it day by day and adjust the plan if we have to,” the 26-year-old American said. “I’m doing a lot of work on snow, but also off the snow, to do everything I can to make sure that we don’t have to adjust it. But at the end of the day, you never really know. So we’re staying flexible and open-minded and doing everything we can to keep that plan our ‘A’ plan.”
Shiffrin cautioned she wouldn’t “necessarily say that I feel ready to race” in Levi. Then again, she added, that’s not unusual — she didn’t feel ready before her season-opening giant slalom win in Sölden, Austria, on Oct. 23.
She always feels like there’s more work that can be done, which has helped drive her to 70 career World Cup wins, three World Cup overall titles and three Olympic medals.
“I could definitely use a lot more reinforcement,” Shiffrin said. “Unfortunately, there’s just not really a whole lot of time for that. … I don’t really expect to feel ready to race. At this point, I never actually feel ready.
“You just race, I guess.”
More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/olympic-games and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
U.S. Ski and Snowboard names 2021-2022 alpine team
U.S. Ski & Snowboard announced Wednesday the 44 athletes who have been selected to compete in the 2021-22 Olympic season. 11 of the A, B, C and Development Teams have a connection to the Vail Valley.
Headlining the group is two-time Olympic and six-time world champion Mikaela Shiffrin of Edwards. Shiffrin boasts 70 World Cup wins, 12 shy of the all-time record, held by Lindsey Vonn. A recent back issue has temporarily sidelined the star. Back in October, ESPN reported that it was her intent to race in all five individual Alpine events in Beijing. “Something I’m dreaming about right now is to be able to compete in each event in China,” Shiffrin said. “But that means I have to do a lot more preparation, mentally.”
Nina O’Brien, who also lists Edwards as her hometown, is looking to build off of last season, which saw her finish 15th in giant slalom on the overall World Cup list. In the 2021 World Championship giant slalom, the seven-time national champion was 0.02 seconds behind Shiffrin for the overall lead. An aggressive second run led to a mistake with seven gates remaining, ultimately resulting in O’Brien settling for 10th.
O’Brien told Ski Racing (SR) three weeks ago that she considers herself a top-15 GS skier and believes increased time and focus in the gym during the prep portion of the year, something the pandemic forced her into last year, was important in her improvement.
She replicated the approach during this summer, which she spent in Denver interning with a private equity firm and taking online classes from Dartmouth. According to Ski Racing Media’s article, O’Brien was often waking up at 5 a.m. for her first gym session.
The strategy appears to be working so far, as she finished in 9th at the opening giant slalom event in Soelden, a race Shiffrin won.
O’Brien was confident going into the race, knowing her strengths were in her ability to handle differences in venues, snow, terrain and lane choices. Looking ahead at the year, the Burke Academy graduate intends to focus on the process.
“For me, breakovers are always something I am trying to get better at,” O’Brien said to SR before the race. “So anytime there is a transition from flat to steep, steep to flat, that’s a good place for me to make sure I’m on my game.”
Ski and Snowboard Club Vail alumni Paula Moltzan, who finished in the top-25 in the Soelden opener as well, is the third valley athlete on the women’s A team. The 2017 NCAA slalom champion from Prior Lake, Minnesota, has one podium and five top tens in her World Cup career. The 27-year old placed second in the Lech Zurs parallel giant slalom in 2021; the 2022 Lech Zurs parallel giant slalom is this weekend.
On the men’s side, River Radamus headlines the local contingent. His career-best 6th place finish in Soelden has fans hopeful that the two-time Junior World Champion can finally fill the boots of recent stars such as Ted Ligety and Bode Miller. In the Soelden opener, a high-speed save had media asking Radamus if he was trying to emulate Miller.
“I wasn’t trying to imitate anyone … I was just trying to make it down, to be honest with you,” he said in the U.S. ski team report. He continued, “I’m really trying to take that mentality — the fearless mentality—like Bode and a lot of guys from America have, so yeah — I’m really proud of the recoveries I had to make there. And I really hope to keep pushing the limit on the next run too.”
2021-2022 U.S. Alpine Ski Team – Vail Valley athletes
– Allie Resnick (Vail; Ski & Snowboard Club Vail; 9/1/2001)
– Emma Resnick (Vail; Ski & Snowboard Club Vail; 7/23/2003)
– Ava Sunshine Jemison (Edwards; Burke Mountain Academy; 6/20/2002)*
– Trent Pennington (Shalimar, Florida; Ski and Snowboard Club Vail; 5/8/2002)
Mikaela Shiffrin to miss next World Cup race due to back issues, according to coach
Mikaela Shiffrin will not compete in this weekend’s World Cup parallel slalom due to complications with a recent back injury, Shiffrin’s coach Mike Day told AFP.
“She is not looking to ski in Lech, but that was never on the plan. Preparing for five events is just too difficult,” said Day.
The coach also indicated that Shiffrin’s recovery has been slow.
“It’s been progressing in a positive way. Unfortunately, she couldn’t manage it when we attempted to train shortly after Soelden,” he stated.
Shiffrin told the Associated Press on Friday that her ability to train was hindered by “a very severe muscle spasm or kind of a strain” in her back. Shiffrin has not “really been able to do much of any skiing at all” since Oct. 23, where she marked her 70th career World Cup victory in Soelden, Austria.
Soelden was also the site of Shiffrin’s first World Cup giant slalom victory in 2015.
Shiffrin’s bib from the October victory was auctioned off last week at the Gold Medal Gala in New York, U.S. Ski and Snowboard’s annual fundraiser. Shiffrin was the keynote speaker at the event.
The Lech race looked doubtful for Shiffrin early on, as she told reporters in late October that she needs to be patient with her recovery.
With the Beijing Games three months away, the Edwards native is taking a cautious approach as she shoots for medals in all five individual disciplines.
“It just takes a little bit to be able to really push on my skis with full-on intensity, which is frustrating, because right now, this is the bulk of time where I would normally be training all four events,” Shiffrin lamented to the Associated Press over the weekend.
“I just need to let it heal. It doesn’t take that long if I just take the time.”
Mikaela Shiffrin dealing with back issue
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin is not able to ski and prepare the way she would like to currently because of a hurt back that she likened to “a very severe muscle spasm or kind of a strain” in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday.
Speaking via video conference from Edwards, the Alpine star said she hasn’t “really been able to do much of any skiing at all” since Oct. 23, when she won the season-opening giant slalom in Sölden, Austria, for her 70th career World Cup victory.
Expected to be one of the main faces of the Beijing Games in February, Shiffrin already owns three medals from past Winter Games along with three World Cup overall titles. She has the third-most race wins in World Cup history, trailing only Lindsey Vonn and Ingemar Stenmark.
“I just need to let it heal. It doesn’t take that long if I just take the time. But I want to be training right now. So I take a day, and then I’m like, ‘All right, maybe it’s good enough; I can go out and ski.’ And then I go out and ski and I take a few turns, and I’m like, ‘Ow. It’s really painful,'” the 26-year-old American said. “It just takes a little bit to be able to really push on my skis with full-on intensity, which is frustrating, because right now, this is the bulk of time where I would normally be training all four events.”
Her aim is to enter every individual race in Beijing: slalom, giant slalom, downhill, super-G and the combined (which adds times from downhill and slalom).
“It’s a waiting game to be able to get back on snow at full intensity,” Shiffrin said. “Your ability to do that best skiing — you start to lose that ability again, so you have to keep touching on that highest level. And I haven’t been able to since Sölden.”
Shiffrin said this issue is different from the back injury that kept her off the World Cup slopes during last season — although she did say she thinks both are connected, in the sense that she traces any current problems related to her spine back to a fall she took when she was 9.
She will play her upcoming schedule by ear, depending on how her body progresses, but said she she does not anticipate sitting out any World Cup races she planned to run. That includes the circuit’s Nov. 27-28 stop in Killington, Vermont, which Shiffrin said she “cannot imagine skipping” (she went to school at Burke Mountain Academy in that state).
“The only thing really in question for me right now would be Lake Louise, but I really want to get there,” Shiffrin said about the Dec. 3-5 speed events in Canada. “Hopefully over the next 24 hours, it’ll start to feel like I can get out on the hill and get some good training. And once we’re there, then we’re back in business, so it shouldn’t be that big of a deal.”
And then she paused before adding: “Hopefully.”
Shiffrin presents keynote speech at Gold Medal Gala
In the still and quiet moment just before a slalom run begins, it’s not recommended for skiers to make a final glance towards the eager crowd below prior to heading towards the first gate. When you’re giving a keynote speech, the rules are different — something about visualizing those people being in underpants, right? When you’re a 70-time World Cup winner and your name is Mikaela Shiffrin, perhaps neither rule applies.
Moments before the 55th annual New York Gold Medal Gala, the major fundraising event for U.S. Ski and Snowboard, the undisputed face of the team stood in a classy, black-striped, full-length ballroom gown, peering out with a stoic nervousness at the crowd. They say nerves are necessary to bring out your best in sport, and they brought out the best in the skier on stage, too. She played an integral part in the event raising a record $1.7 million to support athlete training, development, competition and educational needs by giving an inspirational speech and auctioning off a recently acquired wardrobe item, courtesy of the International Ski Federation (FIS).
“What an incredible evening,” she said. “Thank you to all of the generous donors for your support.”
In the current times, fundraising has become more critical for the team than ever, according to Shiffrin. “With the presence of COVID-19 still affecting nearly every aspect of our competitions, travel, and health, that team support is going to be crucial this season. Even more crucial than it’s ever been.”
As a precaution, current U.S. Ski and Snowboard athletes were not able to attend the event. Shiffrin wasn’t the only athlete to provide star power; she was joined by past Olympic legends Ted Ligety, Hannah Kearney, Alice McKennis Duran, Shannon Bahrke Happe, Donna Weinbrecht, Andrew Weibrecht, Danny Kass, JJ Thomas, Ross Powers, Kaitlyn Farrington, Alice Merryweather, Sam DuPratt and Jonny Moseley, who hosted the event. CEO Emeritus Tiger Shaw passed the reins to new president and CEO, Sophie Goldschmidt, during the evening as well.
“The last 8 years have been some of the most extraordinary years of my life,” Shaw said.
In a night filled with an exuberant auction and fervent celebration, Goldschmidt echoed the vibe during her acceptance of the new call.
“I’m used to working around passionate people, but this is really unparalleled,” she said.
Shiffrin kicked off her 2021-2022 campaign with confidence last month, winning the opening World Cup event in Soelden, Austria. Eventually, the night ended with the Edwards resident auctioning off her current giant slalom leader bib. After mentioning that four U.S. athletes placed in the top 25 on the women’s side at the event, a polite applause from the crowd was halted as she exclaimed, “There’s a bigger humdinger coming, so just wait for a second!” In an Olympic year, ski fans can only pray her promise is prescient.
She spent the introduction of her speech thanking supporters but quickly focused her words toward the fan base. She ushered in hope through an alternation between contextualizing Team USA’s early season accomplishments in the stars and stripes ski lore with firm, humorous commands to her hybrid live and online audience to hold their applause until she finished.
“Imagine that,” she said at the end of her summary. “That is something to celebrate. Clap!” she jocosely demanded.
And clap they did. For those at home imagining gold and hoping to celebrate, there are still 97 days until the 2022 Beijing games. Until then, one can satiate their appetite with the upcoming World Cup races in Lech/Zuers (Nov. 13) and Courchevel (Dec. 21). The latter, a giant slalom, would be Shiffrin’s first opportunity to add points to her current lead, should she compete.
Whether she is in the starting gate or not, know that she probably won’t make any quick, noticeably nervous prerace glances at the television cameras to see who is tuned in. Even so, she’ll feel your contribution.
“All of you in this room and those watching virtually make this national team possible,” she said. “Not only possible but also competitive.
“We have the ability to win there (Beijing), because we know you’re standing with us,” she said as she wrapped up the evening. Her conclusion circled back to the backers of the red, white and blue.
“I can tell you … when the going gets tough and the nerves and the fear sets in, and we’re so far away from home, we can feel your love and support, and that is what gets us through the games,” she said. “And that’s what brings home gold.”