Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin captures slalom title, inspired by girl with leukemia (video)

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Mikaela Shiffrin had not only the World Cup slalom season title on her mind Saturday, but also a girl with leukemia whom she met more than one year ago.

The Olympic slalom champion continued her dominance, winning her fourth World Cup slalom in seven races this season and clinching the season title in the event for the second straight year in Are, Sweden, on Saturday.

Shiffrin, 18, has now won four World Cup slaloms each of the last two seasons and is the first woman to win eight World Cup slaloms before age 19, according to Infostrada.

Shiffrin prevailed in blizzard-like conditions in Are in a two-run time of 1 minute, 50.66 seconds. Swedes went two-three-four, led by Maria Pietilae Holmner, who was .6 behind Shiffrin. Anna Swenn-Larsson was third, her first career World Cup podium.

Shiffrin’s win came at the same venue as her first career World Cup victory on Dec. 20, 2012. That day was fresh in Shiffrin’s mind after winning Saturday, especially a meeting with a young girl who wanted a picture with her. Here’s what Shiffrin said in 2012:

And on Saturday:

“I just keep thinking about [Emma],” Shiffrin said in a press conference. “She was a little lucky charm for me. … It put everything in perspective. Since then, I’ve carried that same motto that I can win, whatever, Olympics, it is all great, but it could be a lot worse, so I have to be grateful for everything that I have.”

Shiffrin’s ascent is clear from her World Cup standings results the last three years, the best indicator of skiing talent as they take into account finishes from throughout the season.

She’s gone from 17th to first to first in the slalom and 49th to 19th to sixth in the giant slalom. She won the slalom title by 33 points last year and leads this year’s standings by 130 points with just the World Cup Finals left next weekend.

Shiffrin also ranks sixth in the overall World Cup standings despite not racing any super-G, downhill or combined. She’s said she dreamed of winning five Olympic golds in 2018 and may start entering super-Gs later this year.

Her next goal, though, is to win a giant slalom race. She’s finished second and third in giant slaloms this season but has never won one.

“I know my GS skiing is fast, fast enough to win, but I really have to do my best skiing,” said Shiffrin, who was 15th and 24th in giant slaloms in Are on Thursday and Friday. “That seems to be slipping away from me a little bit.”

Shiffrin turns 19 on Thursday, then plans to race at the World Cup Finals next weekend followed by the U.S. Championships in Squaw Valley, Calif., beginning March 19 and then get her wisdom teeth removed.

The race for this year’s overall World Cup title is tight. German Maria Hoefl-Riesch took the lead back from Austrian Anna Fenninger with her seventh-place finish Saturday.

Hoefl-Riesch leads by 29 points with the four races left in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, next weekend.

American Resi Stiegler took 14th, her best finish this season, but did not qualify for the World Cup Finals.

Are Slalom
1. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) 1:50.66
2. Maria Pietilae-Holmner (SWE) 1:51.26
3. Anna Swenn-Larsson (SWE) 1:52.16
4. Frida Hansdotter (SWE) 1:52.56
5. Nastasia Noens (FRA) 1:53.63
6. Sarka Strachova (CZE) 1:53.77
7. Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) 1:53.92
8. Kathrin Zettel (AUT) 1:53.94
9. Tina Maze (SLO) 1:54.19
10. Bernadette Schild (AUT) 1:54.32
14. Resi Stiegler (USA) 1:55.12

Ligety breaks Alpine record in first race since Olympics

How to watch Alpine skiing World Cup Soelden on NBC Sports

Mikaela Shiffirn
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Olympic champions Mikaela Shiffrin and Ted Ligety open the World Cup Alpine skiing season in Soelden, Austria, this weekend, live on the NBC Sports app.

Shiffrin, the youngest Olympic slalom gold medalist, faces a field including Swiss World Cup overall champion Lara Gut in the women’s giant slalom Saturday.

The first run is at 4 a.m. ET and the second run at 7 a.m. ET, both live on the NBC Sports app.

Ligety, the Olympic and world giant slalom champion coming back from a torn ACL, looks for his fifth Soelden victory Sunday. He’ll go up against home favorite Marcel Hirscher, the five-time reigning World Cup overall champion.

The first run is at 4 a.m. ET and the second run at 7 a.m. ET, both live on the NBC Sports app.

This weekend’s races open a season that will run through the end of March.  U.S. Olympic champions Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso are expected to make their season debuts later this fall.

The world championships are in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in February. The World Cup Finals, the last races of the season, will be in Aspen, Colo., in March.

Day Coverage Network Time (ET)
Saturday Women’s Giant Slalom Run 1 (LIVE) NBC Sports app 4 a.m.
Women’s Giant Slalom Run 2 (LIVE) NBC Sports app 7 a.m.
Women’s Giant Slalom Universal HD 3 p.m.
Sunday Men’s Giant Slalom Run 1 (LIVE) NBC Sports app 4 a.m.
Men’s Giant Slalom Run 2 (LIVE) NBC Sports app 7 a.m.
Men’s Giant Slalom NBCSN 9:30 p.m.

ALPINE SKIING: Men’s preview | Women’s preview

How to watch Skate America on NBC Sports

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 20:  (L-R) Ashley Wagner with silver, Mao Asada of Japan with gold and Elena Radionova of Russia with bronze pose with their medals after the ladies free at Skate America 2013 at the Joe Louis Arena on October 20, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold highlight the field for Skate America, the biggest annual international figure skating competition in the U.S., live on NBC and the NBC Sports app this weekend.

Terry Gannon will be on the call with 1998 Olympic champion Tara Lipinski and two-time U.S. Olympian Johnny Weir.

Competition in Hoffman Estates, Ill., runs from Friday through Sunday. Icenetwork.com will also have live streaming coverage for subscribers.

Wagner, the world silver medalist, and Gold, the U.S. champion, are joined in Chicagoland by three-time world champion Mao Asada of Japan.

The men’s field is led by world bronze medalist Jin Boyang of China, Grand Prix Final bronze medalist Shoma Uno of Japan and the last two U.S. champions — Adam Rippon and Jason Brown.

U.S. pairs champions Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea and ice dance champions Maia and Alex Shibutani are also competing.

Skate America is the first of six events in the Grand Prix series, with top skaters competing twice over six weeks looking to qualify for the Grand Prix Final in Marseille, France, from Dec. 8-11. Six per discipline qualify for the Grand Prix Final.

SKATE AMERICA: Preview | Gold mulled skipping GP | Wagner has 2 years left

The broadcast and streaming schedule is here:

Day Time (ET) Program Network
Friday 8:05 p.m. Women’s Short (LIVE) Icenetwork.com
Friday 10 p.m. Pairs Short (LIVE) Icenetwork.com
Friday 11 p.m. Women’s Short Universal HD
Saturday 2:05 p.m. Men’s Short (LIVE) Icenetwork.com
Saturday 4:30 p.m. Women’s Free (LIVE) NBC, NBC Sports app
Saturday 8 p.m. Short Dance (LIVE) Icenetwork.com
Saturday 9:40 p.m. Pairs Free (LIVE) Icenetwork.com
Saturday 11:30 p.m. Men’s Short Universal HD
Sunday 12:30 a.m. Pairs Free Universal HD
Sunday 12:30 p.m. Men’s Free (LIVE) NBC, NBC Sports app
Sunday 2:45 p.m. Free Dance (LIVE) Icenetwork.com
Sunday 9 p.m. Free Dance Universal HD
Monday 8 p.m. Women’s, Men’s Free Universal HD

MORE: Full figure skating season broadcast schedule