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Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin looks ahead to adding speed races this season

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Olympic slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin plans to race super-G this season, as expected, and may also make her World Cup debut in the super combined, she told media in Austria on Monday.

“I guess you never really know how the season plays out, but my plan is to race some super-G, and I’ve had more time on my long skis this year [in preseason training] and more preparation there, so I feel comfortable, and I feel excited to race and not just nervous or scared,” Shiffrin said a little more than two weeks before the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria. “I feel like I’m in a good place with my slalom and giant slalom, but I don’t want to let my slalom go downhill just because I’m trying super-G as well. So there’s a lot to think about.”

Shiffrin also was asked if downhill racing was possible:

“Maybe more downhill-combined, but I think I’m going to have my hands full even just doing some super-G,” she said. “I was even tired last year and the years before with only giant slalom and slalom. That’ll be a lot to think about. I want to kind of take it step by step.”

She’ll have plenty of time to think it over. The first four races of the season are in the technical events of slalom and giant slalom.

The first World Cup speed events (downhill, super-G) are the first weekend of December. The first combined race (one speed event run, one slalom run) is Dec. 19.

Shiffrin, 20, also hoped to make her World Cup super-G debut last season but opted against it after a slow start to her season in slalom, her primary event. Shiffrin eventually got back on track in slalom, repeated as World champion and three-peated as World Cup champion in that discipline.

While Shiffrin would like to become an all-around skier by adding speed events of super-G and downhill, she has said the bigger concerns are maintaining her slalom form and continuing to improve in the giant slalom.

She improved from 49th to 19th to seventh to third in the World Cup giant slalom standings the last four seasons.

“A lot of the best GS skiers are also speed skiers, and in order to ski speed fast, you have to not second-guess yourself,” Shiffrin said in March. “Just go, all-out, all the time. I don’t know if I have that skill yet.”

Shiffrin is also rising in the World Cup overall standings. She was fourth last year, behind Anna FenningerTina Maze and Lindsey Vonn. Maze will sit out this season and may be done racing.

MORE ALPINE SKIING: Upcoming milestones for Vonn, Shiffrin

Guess who sent it today? @mikaelashiffrin @skiportillo @usskiteam #Turnitup #iLoveThisSport

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I just want to go fast! @mikaelashiffrin @usskiteam #iLoveThisSport

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Anna Fenninger wins World Cup overall title in tight finish

Anna Fenninger
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Austrian Anna Fenninger prevailed in one of the closest overall title races in women’s World Cup history, winning the World Cup Finals giant slalom in foggy Meribel, France, on Sunday.

Fenninger edged Tina Maze in the season-long standings by 22 points to repeat as World Cup overall champion. It’s the smallest margin of victory since Maria Hoefl-Riesch beat Lindsey Vonn by three points in 2011.

Fenninger came into Sunday’s finale trailing Maze by 18 points. She scored 100 points for her race victory, while Maze was third for 60 points. Fenninger totaled 1,553 points. Maze had 1,531.

“It’s hard to describe because there was so much pressure for so many days, so many weeks,” said Fenninger, who skied last because she was fastest in the first of two runs (by .27 over Maze) earlier Sunday. “I was so nervous before the run. When I came to the finish and saw the green light [indicating victory], it was incredible, unbelievable. I am so thankful to live my dream.”

Lindsey Vonn finished fifth Sunday and ended up third in the overall standings in her comeback season following two major knee surgeries. Her goal next season is to win a fifth World Cup overall title.

“My goal next year is to be top five in as many races as I can in giant slalom and be more consistent in super-G and downhill,” Vonn told media in Meribel. “I won a lot of races this year, but I was also a few times 10th and seventh.”

Mikaela Shiffrin finished seventh Sunday, fourth in the overall standings and third in the giant slalom standings. The three-time World Cup slalom champion has improved in giant slalom from 49th to 19th to seventh the previous three seasons. She hopes to challenge for the World Cup giant slalom title next season and perhaps make her World Cup debut in super-G.

Vonn and Shiffrin will next head to the U.S. Alpine Championships in Sugarloaf, Maine, this week. Vonn will forerun, and Shiffrin will race.

Marcel Hirscher takes unprecedented men’s World Cup overall title

Mikaela Shiffrin takes third straight World Cup slalom season title (video)

Mikaela Shiffrin
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Mikaela Shiffrin became the first skier in 20 years to win three straight World Cup slalom season titles, adding another crystal globe to her trophy case and winning the World Cup Finals in Meribel, France, on Saturday.

Shiffrin, who only needed to finish in the top 15 to take the season title, jumped from second place after the first of two runs to beat Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter by .05. It was Shiffrin’s 15th career World Cup victory.

“I had to pull a lot out of myself that second run in order to even beat her by a little bit,” Shiffrin, who was .07 behind after the first run, said in a finish-area interview. “I definitely didn’t want to throw everything away, but I also wanted to put something on the limit.”

Slovenia’s Tina Maze was fourth Saturday, moving 18 points ahead of Austrian Anna Fenninger for the World Cup overall lead. If Maze and Fenninger both are in the top three in Sunday’s final giant slalom, the higher finisher will win the overall title.

The last woman before Shiffrin to take three straight slalom season titles was Swiss Vreni Schneider, who bagged four straight from 1992 through 1995.

Shiffrin, 20, has won every Olympic, World Championships and World Cup Finals slalom the last three seasons — going six for six.

“I hope I’m always considered a rising star,” Shiffrin told media in Meribel. “This is a really special time for me to be always climbing and progressing, getting better. … I don’t necessarily ever want to be considered the star. I like the rising star.”

She captured this season’s title by 110 points, as opposed to 150 last season, but she recovered from the worst slump of her young career early in the season by changing equipment.

Shiffrin could be the best in the discipline for quite some time, given the six women closest to her in the standings are all at least eight years older.

Shiffrin also hopes to continue her progress in the giant slalom in her season finale Sunday at the World Cup Finals.

Shiffrin, who improved from 49th to 19th to seventh in the World Cup giant slalom standings the previous three season, stands third this year. She could finish as high as second with a strong result Sunday, with Lindsey Vonn also in the race.

“Part of what I need to learn in GS is how to take some risk and how to really put it on the line,” Shiffrin said. “A lot of the best GS skiers are also speed skiers, and in order to ski speed fast, you have to not second-guess yourself. Just go, all-out, all the time. I don’t know if I have that skill yet.”

Watch Lindsey Vonn tie legend’s record for crystal globes