World Cup notebook: Shiffrin wins Beck International Award at U.S. Ski and Snowboard’s annual Service to Sport Awards
Kai Owens and River Radamus get in some spring skiing
After a season that saw her become the winningest Alpine skier in history, Mikaela Shiffrin earned U.S. Ski and Snowboard’s highest athletic honor given during its annual Service to Sport awards. Shiffrin was the recipient of the Beck International Award, “presented to a competitor based on outstanding performance in international competition during the past season.”
In addition to recording her record-setting 88th-career win in Are, Sweden, last March, Shiffrin claimed the overall crystal globe for the fifth time and also won her seventh slalom and second giant slalom globes. This winter, she won a gold medal for the sixth-straight world championships; the next best by any athlete is four straight.
Shiffrin, who also won U.S. Ski and Snowboard’s 2023 Alpine Athlete of the Year award, won the Beck International Award in 2014, 2017, 2019 and 2020 as well. Her record of five wins is tied with Phil Mahre (1977-1981) for the most ever. Cross-country ski superstar Jessie Diggins, who won the country’s first Olympic gold in 2018 and first individual world championship gold medal this February in Planica, Slovenia has won the award four times, the second most for women or men.
According to her social media page, Shiffrin recently returned from Maui, where she spent time windsurfing and dryland training with her boyfriend, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde.
“Gonna miss getting catapulted off my rig on the daily and accidentally drinking the entire ocean in a session only for it to pour out my nose later in the day, but duty calls!” she posted on Monday. “Now it’s time to do more training in other parts of the world! Like… home… hahah.”
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Owens and Radamus hit the slopes for some spring skiing
Kai Owens, who suffered labrum and ACL injuries at the end of the 2022 season, was back on snow for the first time in February and has enjoyed spring skiing in Utah and Vermont this spring. Her Instagram showed photos of her heading up Killington Mountain on April 27 with fellow Olympian Hannah Soar, and Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah on Wednesday.
Edwards’ River Radamus dug out his childhood camera to document his spring skiing adventures.
“In some ways, spring training is my favorite time of the year,” he posted on social media a week ago.
“Absent the baggage of expectations, anything and everything feels possible. I feel most like a kid again; focused only on the joy of pushing limits and experimentation. … I brought (my camera) to spring camp this year to try to capture the nostalgic feeling of ski camp with my friends. Lucky to make these memories with these guys.”
FIS Games are coming in 2028
The number of non-global championship years is being reduced.
The International Ski Federation (FIS) announced its plans to hold a quadrennial, 16-day competition for Olympic and Paralympic snow sports with around 100 medal events starting in 2028. The FIS Games will be held in the one year every four-year cycle that does not include an Olympics, Paralympics or world championships for snow sports.
“The FIS Games will be the greatest of all snow sport events; a landmark celebration bringing the FIS family together as never before,” stated a May 23 press release.
“Just as aspiring athletes have watched the Olympics and Paralympics for decades and dreamed of greatness, so the FIS Games aim to inspire a new generation of skiers and snowboarders,” continued the federation’s bidding guide. Bids will be accepted until Nov. 1, with the 2028 host announced in the spring of 2024.
U.S. Ski and Snowboard integrates para teams into athlete roster
U.S. Ski and Snowboard announced the integration of the U.S. Para Alpine Ski Team and U.S. Para Snowboard team onto its roster Tuesday, a move it called “a significant step forward in promoting inclusivity and equal opportunities within winter sports,” in a press release.
“Since the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) took over the management of Para Alpine skiing in 2010, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard organization has been committed to creating a more unified approach to snow sports,” the release states.
“The integration of the U.S. Para Alpine Ski Team and U.S. Para Snowboard Team into the U.S. Ski & Snowboard landscape further solidifies the organization’s dedication to providing comprehensive support and resources to all athletes, including elite coaching, sport science, sports medicine, high performance staff and education opportunities, along with access to the USANA Center of Excellence.”
SSCV’s Audrey Crowley was a U.S. Paralympic D-team member last season and Vail’s Thomas Walsh won a silver medal at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
“I’m excited to see how this goes,” Walsh tweeted Wednesday regarding the announcement.
Erik Leirfallom was named the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Para Sport Director. Since 2016, Leirfallom has been the high-performance Para Alpine race coach at Park City’s National Ability Center. Prior to that position, he was the Alpine World Cup race director for the International Paralympic Committee and was a coach for the U.S. Para Alpine Ski Team from 2007-2010.
“By combining the management and resources for both the able-bodied and Para teams, we aim to enhance training programs, talent identification and grassroots development initiatives for all athletes,” stated Anouk Patty, U.S. Ski and Snowboard chief of sport.