Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals preview

Ted Ligety
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Both overall titles are undecided going into the World Cup Finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, this week. Americans, too, have achievements at stake in the final races of the Alpine skiing season.

The men’s overall crystal globe — the trophies given to overall and individual discipline winners — will come down to two-time reigning champion Marcel Hirscher of Austria and Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway.

Hirscher goes into the final four races with a slim four-point lead. A race winner earns 100 points, followed by 80 for second place, 60 for third, 50 for fourth and on down the line.

The women’s overall will come down to German veteran Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Austrian riser Anna Fenninger. Hoefl-Riesch leads by 29 points, but was ill and missed training Tuesday. Fenninger has been on a tear since the Olympics, winning two races and finishing second in another.

The Lenzerheide schedule calls for downhills Wednesday and super-Gs on Thursday. The men will race giant slalom and the women slalom on Saturday and then flip it for Sunday’s final races.

Of the Americans, Ted Ligety has the most at stake. He’s in second place in giant slalom, the event he won at the Olympics, and is fourth in the overall standings. He could win the giant slalom and finish third in the overall with strong results this week.

The giant slalom is of utmost importance, but Ligety hasn’t forgotten about the overall. His goal at the start of the season was to win the overall title for the first time. That’s not possible anymore, but he could still match his third from last year.

“I guess, a mini goal, that’s kind of inconsequential is trying to get third in the overall,” Ligety said. “[Alexis] Pinturault and I have a little mini fight for that. I think it’s somewhat close. He definitely has an advantage, but I feel if I can have some good speed results here I can make that a little bit closer race.”

Six-time Olympic medalist Bode Miller could cap his best overall season in six years with top-10 finishes in the overall, downhill and super-G.

Olympic slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin has already successfully defended her slalom title and can’t mathematically win the giant slalom nor the overall. But she would like to finish the season with another first — her maiden World Cup giant slalom race win.

Here’s a globe-by-globe rundown:

Men’s Overall

Standings
1. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) — 1,050
2. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) — 1,046
3. Alexis Pinturault (FRA) — 819
4. Ted Ligety (USA) — 744
8. Bode Miller (USA) — 525

This one could come down to the final race between Hirscher and Svindal. Hirscher is a noted technical specialist, having won crystal globes in the slalom and giant slalom. Svindal won the downhill and super-G crystal globes the last two seasons.

Hirscher is attempting to become the third man ever to win three straight overall titles and the first since American Phil Mahre from 1981-83. Svindal is looking for his first overall title since 2009.

Ligety could get as high as No. 3, which would match his best overall finish from last season.

Miller could get as high as No. 5 with a spectacular week and some help, but finishing in the top 10 is a worthy accomplishment for a 36-year-old who missed all of last season following knee surgery. Miller’s set for his best World Cup overall finish since winning the crystal globe in 2008.

Men’s Downhill

Standings
1. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) — 525
2. Hannes Reichelt (AUT) — 360
3. Erik Guay (CAN) — 357
7. Bode Miller (USA) — 232
9. Travis Ganong (USA) — 210

Svindal has this title wrapped up, his third straight downhill crystal globe. Miller, who was fifth two years ago, could finish as high as fourth. Ganong, who is seemingly improving every week, will better his 18th-place finish from last season.

Men’s super-G

Standings
1. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) — 346
2. Patrick Kueng (SUI) — 239
3. Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) — 227
6. Bode Miller (USA) — 160

Svindal also has this title clinched, his fourth straight in the discipline. Miller could secure his highest super-G standings finish since winning the crystal globe in 2007.

Men’s Giant Slalom

Standings
1. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) — 510
2. Ted Ligety (USA) — 460
3. Alexis Pinturault (FRA) — 378

Ligety’s in for a fight for his fifth giant slalom globe in seven seasons. If Ligety wins the Lenzerheide giant slalom, Hirscher must finish fifth or lower for Ligety to win the crystal globe outright. Hirscher has made the podium in six of seven World Cup giant slaloms this season.

Men’s Slalom

Standings
1. Felix Neureuther (GER) — 470
2. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) — 465
3. Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) — 430

The German took over the lead via his win in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, on Sunday, albeit a very slim one. Hirscher is the reigning World Cup slalom champion, beating Neureuther by 244 points last year. Kristoffersen also has an outside shot.

Women’s Overall

Standings
1. Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) — 1,180
2. Anna Fenninger (AUT) — 1,151
3. Tina Weirather (LIE) — 943
6. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) — 773

It’s not as tight as the men’s overall, but Hoefl-Riesch and Fenninger could also take this crystal globe down to the finale. Hoefl-Riesch has seen her lead drastically fall since the Olympics due to Fenninger’s two victories and a second-place finish. Hoefl-Riesch is, at her best, better in the downhill and slalom, while Fenninger has the edge in super-G and giant slalom.

Hoefl-Riesch is all but guaranteed to finish in the top three of the overall standings for an eighth straight season, remarkable consistency for the 29-year-old who may retire this year.

Fenninger, 24, has steadily risen from 26th to 12th to fifth to third the last four seasons. The last Austrian woman to take the overall crystal globe was Nicole Hosp in 2007.

Shiffrin finished fifth overall last season despite not entering any downhill, super-G or combined races. She turns 19 on Thursday and could move into the top five in Lenzerheide.

Women’s Downhill

Standings
1. Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) — 504
2. Anna Fenninger (AUT) — 424
3. Tina Weirather (LIE) — 400
13. Stacey Cook (USA) — 143
16. Julia Mancuso (USA) — 134

Fenninger must win to have any shot of taking the globe outright from Hoefl-Riesch. Even if Fenninger wins, Hoefl-Riesch can finish 12th or better to win her first downhill season title.

Women’s super-G

Standings
1. Lara Gut (SUI) — 348
2. Tina Weirather (LIE) — 310
3. Anna Fenninger (AUT) — 277
13. Stacey Cook (USA) — 80
14. Julia Mancuso (USA) — 78

Gut doesn’t have to worry about Weirather, who’s done for the season due to injury. Fenninger, though, could derail the Swiss’ bid for her first crystal globe. Gut can clinch by finishing eighth or better regardless of what Fenninger does.

Women’s giant slalom

Standings
1. Jessica Lindell-Vikarby (SWE) — 432
2. Anna Fenninger (AUT) — 418
3. Maria Pietilae-Holmner (SWE) — 299
6. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) — 235

This has been the most unpredictable discipline — men or women — this season. Five women have won the seven races this season, but it’s Fenninger who’s on a roll, winning the last three and favored to overtake Lindell-Vikarby in the finale.

Shiffrin improved from 19th in the giant slalom last season with second- and third-place finishes. She’s said her next goal is to win a World Cup giant slalom race. Shiffrin could move all the way up to third if she does that in Lenzerheide.

Women’s Slalom

Standings
1. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) — 538
2. Frida Hansdotter (SWE) — 408
3. Marlies Schild (AUT) — 325

Shiffrin clinched this crystal globe for the second straight year by winning in Are, Sweden, on Saturday. She could have extra motivation to win her fifth slalom of the season to surpass her total from last year.

Sullivan Award nominees announced

Katie Ledecky talks swimming legacy and life in Gainesville

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OlympicTalk recently caught up with Katie Ledecky to discuss life since moving from Stanford to Florida 15 months ago, her meticulous mindset, and the legacy she continues to build.

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity. You can also catch an encore presentation of Ledecky’s performance at the 2022 U.S. Open this Saturday at 4:30 pm ET on NBC.

What does a typical day look like for you Gainesville? Walk me through a full day starting from the minute your alarm clock goes off.

Ledecky: A typical day would be waking up at 5 o’clock in the morning and swimming from 6 to 8. Then I have weights from 8 to 9:15. I get breakfast, have lunch and then take a nap. Then I have practice again at 2 or 3 in the afternoon for another two hours.

Wow, that sounds incredibly busy! Have you had a chance to find any new favorite places to eat in Gainesville?

Ledecky: I’m still kind of finding my spots. There is a breakfast spot pretty close to campus that a lot of the swimmers like, so I go there quite a bit, but I’m still looking. I haven’t gone to very many places more than once.

What are you doing in your free time? Are you coaching?

Ledecky: Yes, I’m volunteering with the [University of Florida] team, but I think of myself more as a teammate. I have a lot of other things going on with sponsorships, but aside from that, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I have a piano and enjoy playing that!

How often do you get to see your family?

Ledecky: My parents, David and Mary, still live in the D.C. area, and then my brother, Michael, lives in New York, so I’m a lot closer to home [than at Stanford]. I see them around the holidays, and they come to a lot of my swim meets.

I know how much you love to stay academically engaged. Are you taking any classes at the University of Florida?

Ledecky: I’m not taking any classes right now. I’m taking a break, but I’m still trying to learn as much as I can just in other areas, reading a lot and watching the news, following different things that I’m interested in. I think at some point, I’ll probably go to grad school, but I’m still figuring out what area that would be in right now.

There’s a quote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” I feel like that only scratches the surface of describing your work ethic and mindset. You demand excellence in every area of your life, not just from yourself, but from others around you. Can you talk about where that mindset comes from?

Ledecky: I’ve always had that kind of a mindset. I’m very driven, and I’m always setting new goals for myself no matter what I’ve achieved in the past. I’m always looking forward, I don’t take very many breaks, and so it’s always on to the next goal and making sure I’m doing the little things right and doing the things I need to do to reach my goals.

To be able to perform at the level that you do every single day takes a lot of mental toughness. What do Katie Ledecky’s inner thoughts look like? What do you tell yourself? Any affirmations? 

Ledecky: I try to stay positive no matter how well or how poorly a practice or a race is going. When I’m swimming, I give myself positive mental pep talks along the way throughout a race. I’ll say “keep it up,” “hold pace” or “hit this turn.”

I just want to read you a few tweets… 

You idolized Michael Phelps when you were younger, and now you’re that person for a lot of people. You’re the GOAT. You’re Katie Ledecky. Someone’s idol. What does that feel like?

Ledecky: It’s an honor to have young swimmers look up to me, and I don’t take that lightly. I try to be a good role model and reach out to young kids and sign autographs and take photos if people approach me at swim meets. I hope that there are some young swimmers out there that will grow up to be champions or maybe they’ll just continue to love the sport or find other things that they’re passionate about, but it’s an honor.

Have you had any memorable interactions with young swimmers?

Ledecky:  Yeah, actually the World Cup in Indianapolis [in November]. We were given those giant checks at the end of the meet that you really can’t travel with, so I was able to sign it and give it to one of the basket carriers at the meet. They were thrilled, and it was fun to be able to put a smile on their face.

Give me just one word to describe each of these milestones in your life, starting with the 2012 Olympics.

Ledecky: The first. It was my first international competition and my first gold medal, so that’s the one that’ll probably be the most special for me forever.

OLY-2012-SWIM

2016 Rio Olympics.

Ledecky: Consistency. I was swimming in multiple events at the Olympics for the first time and I just got into a really good rhythm and felt so comfortable in the pool deck. So confident. That was just a very unique feeling.

Tokyo Games.

Ledecky: Tokyo was different with all the COVID protocols. Nobody in the stands. No family there. But it was a lot of fun still, so a lot of great memories with my teammates there.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind at the end of your career? What do you want to be remembered for?

Ledecky: I’d like to be remembered as somebody that worked really hard and gave my best effort every time I got up on the blocks and represented Team USA. Hopefully, I can continue to inspire young kids to work hard in whatever it is that they are passionate about, whether that’s something academic, athletic, or something else. If you find something that you really love, you should go all in on it and try to be the best you can be at it.

You’ve achieved so much in life already personally and professionally, I just want to ask: Are you genuinely happy? Are you satisfied in this season of life right now?

Ledecky: Oh yeah, I’m very happy. I love the sport more and more every year. I get a little sad thinking about the day I will eventually retire–which isn’t anytime soon. I love the sport. I’m trying to just enjoy every day of training and racing and trying to be the best that I can be.

I say this all the time, I never imagined I would even make it to one Olympics and so to be training now to try to qualify for a fourth Olympics is it’s all just icing on the cake at this point and something that I truly enjoy. I enjoy doing it with my teammates, striving for similar goals, and getting to do it with really great people.

Knowing all that you know now, what advice would you give to your younger self — the little Palisades Porpoise?

Ledecky: I don’t have very many regrets or anything in my career, so I think I would just continue to tell myself to have fun and enjoy every moment. Maybe, write down a little bit more early on. I’ve done a better job of journaling and writing down different things so that I can remember them down the road, but I didn’t do as good of a job in 2012 and 2013.

Rapid-fire questions. Race day hype song? 

Ledecky: “Badlands” by Bruce Springsteen.

Finish this sentence: I’m not ready for a meet without … 

Ledecky: My suit, cap and goggles.

Did you have AIM back in the day? What was your embarrassing screen name?

Ledecky: I didn’t. I didn’t even have a cell phone until before the London Olympics. I think I actually borrowed my brother’s phone for that, and then we went out and bought an iPad so that I could FaceTime my family from London. I didn’t have an email account either until high school.

Your life is on the line. You need to sing one karaoke song to save it. What are you picking?

Ledecky: Well, USA Swimming did carpool karaoke in 2016 before the Olympics. My car did “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, which is a great karaoke song because it’s like 10 minutes long so maybe I would choose that just as a fun memory. We also did “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen in 2012. Those are two fun songs with some fond memories.

Post-workout meal?

Ledecky: After morning practice, eggs and toast or veggies and eggs. I love breakfast. I could eat breakfast food for all three meals and I’d be satisfied.

Cheat meal? 

Ledecky: Either pizza or a burger.

If you had to choose another Olympic sport to compete in what would it be and why? 

Ledecky: Probably hockey. I’m not good on skates, but it’s my favorite sport to watch.

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Marie-Philip Poulin is first female hockey player to win Canada Athlete of the Year

Marie-Philip Poulin
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Marie-Philip Poulin became the first female hockey player to win Canada’s Athlete of the Year after captaining the national team at the Winter Olympics and winning her third gold medal.

Poulin, 31, scored twice and assisted once in Canada’s 3-2 win over the U.S. in the Olympic final on Feb. 17. She has scored seven of Canada’s 10 goals over the last four Olympic finals dating to the 2010 Vancouver Games — all against the U.S.

Nine different male hockey players won Canada Athlete of the Year — now called the Northern Star Award — since its inception in 1936, led by Wayne Gretzky‘s four titles. Sidney Crosby won it in 2007 and 2009, and Carey Price was the most recent in 2015.

Poulin is the fifth consecutive Olympic champion to win the award in an Olympic year after bobsledder Kaillie Humphries in 2014, swimmer Penny Oleksiak in 2016, moguls skier Mikaël Kingsbury in 2018 and decathlete Damian Warner in 2021.

Canada’s other gold medalists at February’s Olympics were snowboarder Max Parrot in slopestyle, plus teams in speed skating’s women’s team pursuit and short track’s men’s 5000m relay.

In men’s hockey, Cale Makar won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP in leading the Colorado Avalanche to the Stanley Cup and the Norris Trophy as the season’s best defenseman.

The Northern Star Award is annually decided by Canadian sports journalists.

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