Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin interviewed by Santa Claus (video)

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Mikaela Shiffrin not only won a reindeer in Levi, Finland, on Saturday, but also a backseat interview with Santa Claus.

Santa asked the 18-year-old from Vail, Colo., if she had been to Levi before (yes, last year) and what she thought of the Finland ski resort north of the Arctic Circle.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s the North Pole, basically. I mean, I got a reindeer today, and now I’m having an interview with Santa.”

Santa then asked Shiffrin what she thought about Christmas.

“I love Christmas,” she said. “It’s my favorite holiday. … It’s snowy and there’s lights everywhere. Yummy cookies.”

As for the Reindeer, which Shiffrin named Rudolph?

“I’m going to follow its growth,” Shiffrin said. “It’s staying here in Levi. Hopefully when I come back next year, I’ll be able to visit, maybe ride it. I want to look it face to face again.”

Santa closed by asking her what she wanted for Christmas. (Well, what she “hoped for”) Shiffrin’s answer was unlike what most teenagers would say.

“In some ways, you make your own gift,” she said. “I’m going to try and make my own gift this season and see how far it can take my skiing.”

Shiffrin’s taken it pretty far already. She’s the reigning world champion and World Cup champion in the slalom and posted a career-best sixth place in the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 26.

The World Cup tour goes to Beaver Creek, Colo., for three races Thanksgiving weekend — a downhill, super-G and giant slalom. If Shiffrin keeps with her Olympic season plans, she will race the giant slalom.

Oh yeah, Santa gave her a gift anyway, a winter hat.

(h/t @usskiteam)

Video: Hirscher win’s men’s slalom; Ligety fast on second run

No NHL players means more mistakes and goals at Olympics

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GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — Hockey is a game of mistakes and it’s on display in fine form at the Olympics.

It doesn’t look beautiful, of course, with players all outside the NHL turning the puck over for point-blank scoring chances or leaving opponents wide open in front. The talent level is lower, so the risk factors and the entertainment level are up. Goaltenders have to be on their toes for unexpected, game-saving stops even more than usual.

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“It’s a short tournament: A few mistakes can decide your fate,” Finland goaltender Karri Ramo said Saturday. “You try to create more than carry it out of the zone, so obviously teams are trying to keep the puck and create scoring chances, so those mistakes happen. You’re not going to win if you play safe.”

There’s not a whole lot of safe, low-risk play so far, and scoring has increased as a result. After each team played twice, games were averaging 5.1 goals, up from 4.7 in Sochi with NHL players on the rosters.

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Ligety exits quietly, Hirscher brilliant again

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Marcel Hirscher, the Austrian ski god, is finally having his moment. King of the World Cup tour for the past seven seasons, on Sunday Hirscher won his second Olympic gold, in the giant slalom.

Hirscher had won a grand total of no Olympic medals, nada, zip, zero in two prior Games. Now he might — could, should — win three here at PyeongChang. The slalom, another Hirscher specialty, is due to be run Thursday.

To watch Hirscher ski is to watch one of the great athletes of our — or any — time. Like being courtside in Chicago to see Michael Jordan back in the day. At Wimbledon for a Roger Federer volley. At the Water Cube in Beijing in 2008 when Michael Phelps was swimming the butterfly.

In Sunday’s race, Kristoffersen finished second, 1.27 seconds back of Hirscher. Pinturault finished third, 1.31 behind.

American racer Ted Ligety used to own this event: the Sochi 2014 giant slalom gold medalist, he was world champion in 2011, 2013 and 2015. Pinturault took Sochi 2014 bronze.

Considering his relatively low slalom ranking and the pounding that slalom demands, Sunday’s GS was — just like that, that quickly, that quietly — likely the final race of Ligety’s outstanding Olympic career.

“This is probably it for me at these Games,” he said after run two, adding that he is planning to head back to Europe, to race the remainder of the World Cup season.

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