Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin says ‘next Lindsey Vonn’ talk unfair to Vonn

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Showers of praise keep raining on U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, but perhaps comparisons to Lindsey Vonn are not the way to go.

“When they say I’m the next Lindsey Vonn, they are shooing her out the door, and I don’t think that’s fair,” Shiffrin told TODAY.com. “Imagine being her, reading that someone is the next Lindsey Vonn — it’s like saying, ‘Get out of the way, there’s no room for two Lindsey Vonns.’”

Shiffrin, of Vail, Colo., made her first World Cup giant slalom podium in nearby Beaver Creek on Sunday. She’s just starting to get her feet wet in the giant slalom after ascending to the top in slalom last year. Shiffrin won the World Championship in the slalom and led the World Cup standings in the event.

Shiffrin has said she wants to be an all-around skier contending for the overall World Cup title, which Vonn has won four times. It’s well known that Shiffrin and Vonn are different types of skiers — Shiffrin competing in (for now) only technical events, Vonn focusing on speed races.

Vonn is expected to train in Lake Louise, Alberta, this week ahead of World Cup speed races there beginning Friday. The Olympic downhill champion has said she hopes to race at a course nicknamed “Lake Lindsey” for her overwhelming success there over the years.

Shiffrin’s next race is expected to be a giant slalom in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Dec. 15, if she sticks with her plan of racing only giant slalom and slalom this season.

“[Vonn has] been one of my greatest idols for really long time, and it’s even cooler that she’s one of my teammates,” Shffrin told TODAY.com. “I appreciate who she is and what she’s done for the sport. But she’s not done — she’s not even really close to done. Let her have her success and let me have my own — just call me Mikaela Shiffrin.”

Shiffrin’s admiration of Vonn included getting tongue-tied when Vonn introduced herself at a training session a few days before a race at Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic, in March 2011.

“I was awkward and she must have felt like, ‘Who the heck is this girl?,”‘ Shiffrin told the Denver Post. “But it was really cool. I was like, ‘I just met my hero, oh, my gosh.’

“She said: ‘You can ask me whatever you need. I remember my first time in a World Cup, it was pretty dumbfounding, so if you have any questions, ask me.’ Of course I didn’t. I didn’t want to get in her way, but just the gesture — it sounded like she genuinely meant it.”

Vonn, who is 11 years older than Shiffrin, has said they’ve painted their nails together.

In January 2012, Vonn praised Shiffrin in a blog for the Denver Post.

“She’s a huge talent and she’s got a good head on her shoulders,” Vonn wrote. “To have success at that age, you need the right people around you when you’re growing up, you have to have talent and you need everything to fall into place at the right time.”

Lindsey Vonn delays surgery in hopes of skiing at Sochi Olympics

Yevgenia Medvedeva wins season opener in rout

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Olympic figure skating favorite Yevgenia Medvedeva, imperfect by her standards, still won her first international competition of the season by a whopping 36.74 points on Saturday.

The Russian tallied 146.72 points in her free skate at Nepela Trophy in Slovakia — lower than her median score over her two-year winning streak — and 226.72 points overall. 

Video is here. Full scores are here.

Medvedeva had a wrong edge call on her triple Lutz, stepping out of the landing. 

Judges gave her a negative grade of execution for it, snapping a streak of more than 60 straight jumps with positive grades dating to December.

No matter, the 17-year-old still had the highest free skate by 23.23 points.

It was 13.72 points shy of her world record set at the last competition of the 2016-17 season.

She distanced Japanese Rika Hongo and countrywoman Yelena Radionova, the only woman to beat Medvedeva in senior international competition in November 2015.

Medvedeva entered the free skate with a 13.51-point lead in the low-level event. That was via recording the second-highest short program tally under a 13-year-old judging system on Thursday.

Her flawed free skate still earned more points than any of her rivals racked up last season. 

All of her jumps except a double Axel were in the second half of her program to earn bonus points.

However, another Russian posted a higher free skate score last week.

That’s 15-year-old training partner Alina Zagitova, who was .45 better at a low-level event in Italy. 

It’s not entirely fair to compare scores from different judging panels at these early season competitions, though.

The first of six Grand Prix series events is Rostelecom Cup in Moscow in four weeks, featuring Medvedeva and Radionova.

Medvedeva and Zagitova could go head-to-head at the Grand Prix Final in December and should definitely both be at the Russian Championships later that month.

The figure skating season continues next week with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. 

North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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VIDEO: Nathan Chen makes more history at season opener

Yuzuru Hanyu opens Olympic season with record score

Yuzuru Hanyu
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A sore knee didn’t hold Yuzuru Hanyu back. A record score to open his Olympic season.

The Olympic and world champion from Japan hit a pair of quadruple jumps in his short program at the Autumn Classic, a lower-level event in Montreal.

He was rewarded with 112.72 points, the highest short program score recorded under the 13-year-old judging system. Video is here.

It looked like a home competition for Hanyu.

Upon finishing, he bowed toward one set of bleachers (maybe a dozen rows) at the Sportsplexe Pierrefonds. More than two dozen Japanese flags made it hard to see most of the faces.

He bettered Javier Fernández, a two-time world champion and training partner, by 11.52 points. Fernández also landed two quadruple jumps to tally 101.2.

Full scores will be here upon the conclusion of the short program. The free skate is Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. A live stream is here.

Hanyu now owns the three highest short program scores under the 13-year-old system. The other two were set in the 2015-16 season.

Showdowns like Hanyu-Fernández are usually reserved for, at the earliest, the Grand Prix series in late October and November.

Hanyu and Fernández are very familiar with each other, having shared a coach in Canadian Brian Orser, the 1988 Olympic silver medalist, since 2012. They train in Toronto.

In that time, Hanyu became the first Japanese man to win an Olympic title (and the second teen from any nation to do it). He followed it up with world titles later in 2014 and this year.

Fernández achieved unfathomable success for a Spanish skater — world titles in 2015 and 2016, overtaking Hanyu in the free skate both times.

In PyeongChang, Hanyu can become the first man to repeat as Olympic champion since Dick Button in 1952. Fernández can become the third Spaniard to earn a Winter Olympic medal of any color in any sport, and the first since 1992.

The figure skating season continues next week with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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