Sarah Burke

Memorial stickers for freestyle skier Sarah Burke banned by IOC

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The International Olympic Committee has confirmed that it has banned athletes from wearing memorial stickers for late Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke, who played a pivotal role in getting the ski halfpipe into the Sochi Olympics before her death in January of 2012 from injuries sustained in a training accident.

In comments relayed by Reuters, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said his group could help organize another event to remember Burke but that “the competitions themselves, which are a place of celebration, are probably not the right place to really do that and we like to keep that separate.”

“But we absolutely will support and want to help any kind of remembrance that the athletes particularly want to do,” he added.

Not happy with the IOC’s decision to ban the Burke stickers is Australian snowboarder Torah Bright, who talked about the matter a few days ago on her Instagram page and also hailed Burke as “a beautiful, talented, powerful woman, who’s spirit inspires me still.”

MORE: Fans choose Sochi helmet for U.S. skeleton racer Katie Uhlaender

Burke, a four-time X Games champion (2007-09, 2011) and the 2005 superpipe world champion, lobbied the IOC to add ski halfpipe onto the Olympic program. After an unsuccessful attempt for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, it was officially put in for Sochi in April of 2011.

Additionally, the IOC has sent a letter to the Norwegian Olympic Committee informing them that the black armbands worn by their cross-country skiers on Saturday was inappropriate (they noted that it was merely a reminder of the rules, not a reprimand).

The armbands were worn to remember the brother of team member Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen. He passed away last week – one day before the Opening Ceremony.

Mikaela Shiffrin wrestles with doubt in seconds before World Cup downhill debut

Mikaela Shiffrin, of the United States, skis during the third training run for the World Cup women's downhill ski race in Lake Louise, Alberta, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)
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After a momentary panic in the start house, Mikaela Shiffrin raced to a tie for 18th in the first downhill of her World Cup career in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Shiffrin, the youngest Olympic slalom champion who has also won a World Cup giant slalom, has been slowly adding the speed events of super-G and downhill to her repertoire the last two seasons.

“It wasn’t bad,” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com. “I certainly didn’t risk anything crazy.”

Her result Friday, 1.99 seconds behind Slovenian winner Ilka Stuhec, came after Shiffrin was 18th, 24th and 30th fastest in downhill training runs the previous three days. Shiffrin also had to wait several minutes in the start house as the racer before her crashed (video here).

“That was just a bummer,” Shiffrin said, according to the Denver Post. “I was like, ‘Just don’t let it affect you,’ but being up there for 10 minutes, like, ‘What happened? What’s taking them so long? What’s going on? Is she hurt?’

“Then I started doubting myself, like my technique going off the jumps, which is actually pretty good. I was going back and forth between, ‘Should I even be doing this? Maybe I just should pull out because I don’t want to kill myself.’ Then I’m like, ‘You’re absolutely fine, you haven’t felt sketched out a single time on this track in the past three days, so stick with that. You don’t have to go crazy.'”

“To be fast in speed there certainly needs to be a certain level of risk, and I know that, but now, if [giant slalom] and slalom are my main priority this season, I don’t need to be going crazy in a downhill with flat light and after I got iced [waiting so long],” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com.

Stuhec won Friday’s race by .22 of a second over Italian Sofia Goggia. Swede Kajsa Kling was third.

A race replay can be seen here. Full results are here.

Lindsey Vonn, owner of a record 18 wins at Lake Louise, is missing the annual World Cup stop in Alberta due to a broken arm from a November crash. Vonn had raced at Lake Louise each of the previous 15 seasons.

Last season, Shiffrin made her World Cup debut in the super-G at Lake Louise and finished 15th.

The women have another downhill Saturday and a super-G on Sunday in Lake Louise, both streaming live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app (schedule here).

MORE: Vonn eyes January return from her most painful injury

High-speed crash at World Cup downhill in Lake Louise (video)

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Swiss Joana Haehlen crashed into netting at high speed during a World Cup downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Haehlen, 24, lost her right ski after landing from a jump and sped uncontrollably off course. She braced for impact, slammed into red netting and was turned around before landing with neither of her skis still attached.

She lay on the snow while being attended to and eventually skied down the mountain on her own.

It caused a 10-minute delay before the next skier, American Mikaela Shiffrin, could take her run.

VIDEO: Vonn details the most painful injury of her career