Bummer for Birds; what about Vonn, Shiffrin?
November 17, 2016
As the soup guy on "Seinfeld" might have said, "No Audi Birds of Prey for you."
Yes, it snowed a little on Thursday, and maybe the slightly cooler temperatures were on the way, but you still need a little help from Mother Nature.
Your sports analysis is some years it snows. Occasionally, it doesn't. (Yes, thanks, Freud.)
But what does North America's dearth of snow portend for our locals?
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No snow has been a Canadian trend as well. The men's downhill and super-G up in Lake Louise, Alberta, like Birds of Prey, have been moved to Europe for lack of snow. And that brings up the question? What about the ladies up in Lake Louise scheduled for the first weekend of December? Do those two downhills and a super-G get moved to Europe, if the lack of snow continues?
More importantly, is that good or bad for Vail's Lindsey Vonn?
Vonn broke her right arm in training last week over at Copper, so there's some question as to whether she would race at Lake Lindsey to start the speed season.
My hunch, based on absolutely nothing, is that she would give Lake Louise a try, even with her broken arm. Tape the darn pole to her right hand and point her tips down the hill.
After all, she's won 17 times on that course. She kind of knows her way around there, I'd bet on Vonn winning there, skiing down the course while doing a handstand on her good arm.
Think I'm joking about the handstand? Remember that Vonn finished 11th in a downhill and fifth during a super-G in Lake Louise in 2013 with no right knee as she tried a comeback for the 2014 Olympics.
A broken arm is merely a flesh wound by comparison.
On the flip side, if Lake Louise gets rescheduled, it gives Vonn more time to recuperate. As the slate stands, Lake Louise is Dec. 2-4, followed by tech races in Sestriere, Italy, Dec. 10-11.
It's doubtful she'd make her season debut in tech races, so her first races would then be at Val d'Isere, France, Dec. 17-18, downhill and super-G, a little more than a month after breaking her arm.
Maybe, despite her track record at Lake Louise, it would be good for those races to be run somewhere in Europe when she's in tip-top shape.
Either way, look for Vonn to be in the hunt for the overall globe by the time this season's done. Also, with 76 World Cup wins Ingemar Stenmark's record of 86 is in sight. She won nine times last year in an injury-shortened season. And, yes, the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships are in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in February.
Mikaela Shiffrin is already off to a great start this year.
She took second in the Soelden, Austria, giant slalom in October, and won the first slalom of the season in Finland last weekend.
The kid might just make a name for herself in ski racing, after all.
We ask the same question at the beginning of this season, as we did at the outset of the last: "Can Shiffrin expand her repertoire outside of slalom?"
Only injury prevented her from winning her fourth slalom globe last season. She has won her last nine World Cup slalom starts dating back to Feb. 22, 2015, and 11 of 12 races since Dec. 29, 2014. That run does not include the gold she won here during 2015 Worlds. (Worlds wins are not included as World Cup victories. Don't ask me why.)
Can she add a GS globe?
We're going to get some clues early. Killington, Vermont, has snow and is hosting a GS and a slalom weekend after next. Two weeks after that, Shiffrin will be in the gate for the aforementioned tech races in Italy.
Game on, kid.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.
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