AP

Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin share jokes, peace of mind at World Cup Finals

Leave a comment

Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin began answering at the same time when asked at a group press conference about the meaning of this week’s World Cup Finals in Aspen, Colo.

After a brief moment of confusion, Vonn, 32, lifted her microphone to her lips and ceded the floor to Shiffrin, 22.

“Beauty before age,” she deadpanned.

Shiffrin chuckled and answered the question.

“I was just going to say that ‘Dumb and Dumber’ was filmed here,” the Vail native said, drawing laughs and a smile from Vonn. “Everybody’s been talking about it. That’s unique.”

Vonn and another veteran skier on stage, Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal, then turned to Shiffrin and chided her for not being alive when the December 1994 film came out.

World Cup Finals races run from Wednesday through Sunday in Aspen. Vonn and Shiffrin will be skiing with less pressure than years’ past.

“It’s the end of the year,” Vonn would say Monday night. “Everyone’s kind of ready to be done, ready to celebrate.”

The World Cup Finals are the last races of the season on the men’s and women’s World Cup tours, beginning with downhills Wednesday. All races will air on NBC Sports via NBC, NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app (full schedule at the bottom).

The Finals often determine who takes home crystal globes awarded to the best skier’s per discipline and overall for the season.

But Vonn will not add to her total of 20 globes this year due to injuries that kept her off the competition slopes for November, December and half of January. She has too much ground to make up in the downhill and super-G standings.

Shiffrin is too far ahead of the competition to lose the slalom title. She mathematically clinched her fourth slalom globe in five years with her latest victory in an 11-win season Saturday.

Shiffrin has also 99-percent clinched the World Cup overall title, with a 378-point lead going into this week’s races. She will become the fifth American to take home that crystal globe, the biggest annual prize in ski racing.

With globes wrapped up, the dangling carrots for Vonn and Shiffrin this week are purely race victories.

Vonn’s events are up first, a downhill on Wednesday and a super-G on Thursday. Shiffrin’s specialties — slalom and giant slalom — are Saturday and Sunday.

Vonn will hope to add to her total of 77 World Cup wins, which is nine shy of the career record held by retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark. A victory or two in Aspen will lessen the pressure on Vonn to catch Stenmark in the 2017-18 Olympic season.

Vonn, who has averaged about 10 wins per season when healthy, has just one victory this year, coming back from crash-caused knee and arm fractures in 2016.

Slovenian Ilka Stuhec has emerged as the world’s best speed racer, while Italian Sofia Goggia edged Vonn in the downhill and super-G at the 2018 Olympic track two weekends ago.

Shiffrin has no rival in Saturday’s slalom. She has won seven of the nine races in the discipline this season, plus her third straight gold at the world championships.

But Sunday’s giant slalom could feature an interesting head-to-head.

France’s Tessa Worley leads the season GS standings by 80 points over Shiffrin and will wrap up that crystal globe with a top-12 finish. Little intrigue there.

But Shiffrin’s GS has improved this season to the point where she could be considered a favorite to beat Worley in Friday’s race. Shiffrin has won three of the last five World Cup giant slaloms, plus took silver behind Worley at the world championships last month.

Shiffrin is about to wrap up one of the most successful seasons in World Cup history. Her 11 wins in one campaign are the most-ever by an American other than Vonn.

If Shiffrin wins both the slalom on Saturday and the GS on Sunday, she will reach 13 wins this season, only done three times by male or female skiers in World Cup history. And she would get to 33 career World Cup wins, matching Bode Miller‘s total for the second-most by an American.

Behind only Vonn, of course.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Kelly Clark’s long halfpipe road to Olympics No. 5

World Cup Finals broadcast schedule
(all NBC, NBCSN coverage also streamed)

Day Time (ET) Network Event
Wednesday 12-2 p.m. NBCSN, Streaming Men’s, Women’s Downhills
Thursday 11:30 a.m. Streaming Women’s Super-G
Thursday 12-2 p.m. NBCSN Women’s, Men’s Super-Gs
Friday 12:30-2 p.m. NBCSN Team Event
Saturday 11 a.m. Streaming Men’s Giant Slalom Run 1
Saturday 12 p.m. Streaming Women’s Slalom Run 1
Saturday 12:30-2 p.m. NBC Men’s GS, Women’s Slalom Run 1s
Saturday 6-8 p.m. NBCSN Men’s GS, Women’s Slalom Run 2s
Sunday 11 a.m. Streaming Women’s Giant Slalom Run 1
Sunday 12 p.m. Streaming Men’s Slalom Run 1
Sunday 1-4 p.m. NBCSN Women’s GS, Men’s Slalom

USA Hockey to start reaching out to potential replacement players

Getty Images
Leave a comment

USA Hockey will begin reaching out to “alternate players” to determine their interest in playing for the U.S. at the women’s world championship next week amid a potential boycott by its national team.

The contact is taking place in the event a resolution cannot be reached between USA Hockey and the women’s national team in a wage dispute.

“It’s important for everyone to understand clearly that our objective is to have the players we named as the U.S. women’s national team be the ones that compete in the world championship,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, in a statement. “Productive conversations have taken place this week and are ongoing in our collective efforts to reach a resolution.”

The alternate players are in the professional NWHL and college, according to USA Today, a report that USA Hockey would not confirm.

U.S. captain Meghan Duggan has said every player in the U.S. national team player pool, plus under-18 national team players, committed to not playing at worlds unless the wage dispute is resolved.

The world championship tournament starts March 31 in Plymouth, Mich.

As of Thursday evening, no resolution has come between USA Hockey and its women’s national team. They met formally on Monday for more than 10 hours, with both sides calling it productive.

Neither side has said when its next scheduled meeting will take place.

On Tuesday, USA Hockey said it postponed a pre-worlds camp that was to run through next Tuesday in Traverse City, Mich., and canceled a scheduled Friday exhibition against Finland.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: NHL asked for decision on Olympics by end of April

NHL asked for decision on Olympics by end of April

Getty Images
Leave a comment

International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel tells The Associated Press he needs to know by the end of April whether NHL players will be cleared to play in the South Korea Olympics next year.

NHL team owners have made it clear they don’t want to stop their season again for the Winter Games and put their stars at risk of injury. The reluctance has come up before and yet the NHL has participated in the Olympics since 1998. This time, however, there seems to be an impasse.

The head of the NHL Players Association, Donald Fehr, says the players want to participate and hopes the league will take advantage of the chance to market the game in Asia.

However, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says without “material change to the current status quo, NHL players will not be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: 2018 Olympic hockey groups set