Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin eyes breakthrough with World Cup season approaching

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NEW YORK — Three days before Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest Olympic slalom champion in February, she finished fifth in her first Olympic race, the giant slalom.

“She was almost crying,” Shiffrin’s mother, Eileen, told reporters the day her daughter missed the medals by .23 of a second (the podium finishers were all at least five years older than the American).

Shiffrin felt disappointed despite skiing about to her level, having placed second, third, sixth and eighth in four World Cup giant slalom races she had finished before the Olympics. She hoped she would notch her first top-level giant slalom win at the Olympics, though.

“Next Olympics,” Shiffrin said in Russia, “I’m sure as heck not getting fifth.”

Shiffrin didn’t break through in GS in the post-Olympic World Cup races in March, so she carries over her goals into the new season beginning next month.

Defend the World Cup slalom title. Win her first giant slalom race.

“And hopefully get a couple more [GS wins] after that,” she said in the lobby of a Midtown Manhattan hotel Wednesday afternoon. “I’m really hoping to try to separate myself a little bit in GS this year. It’s a tough event. A lot of people say it’s the hardest event because it’s a mix between slalom and super-G. It’s just tough.”

The 19-year-old said her training is more balanced going into her fourth season on tour.

“Before, if I had the choice to train slalom or GS, I always chose slalom,” said Shiffrin, who holds the three most prestigious titles in slalom, Olympic champion, World champion and World Cup champion. “Now, it’s like, all right, well my slalom feels pretty good, but I need work on GS, or it just depends upon how I feel.”

She recently finished a five-week technical events camp in New Zealand with U.S. teammates and feels in “more of a comfort zone” with GS, which requires more speed than the other technical discipline, slalom.

It’s all in preparation for the first event of the World Cup season, a giant slalom race in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 25. Shiffrin heads to Europe three weeks before that.

If Shiffrin had to prioritize her goals — defending her World Cup slalom title and winning her first GS race — which would she prefer?

“That’s a tough one,” she said. “Last year, I would have chosen slalom. But I don’t think I’m going to have to choose this year. I think my slalom’s at a point where I’m really comfortable with where I’m at. I’m comfortable with that speed. It’s not a question whether I can put good skiing out there. It’s whether I’ll be hindered by ruts in the course or whatever it is. But in general my skiing is there. That level is there. That leaves a little bit more room for training GS, which is what I need to be able to race comfortably in GS.”

Shiffrin’s early giant slalom work this season will also go into determining if and when she makes her World Cup debut in a super-G race, the next level up in speed.

This season’s World Cup calendar doesn’t include any sites where the women race a super-G and a technical event on the same weekend before February’s World Championships in Beaver Creek and Vail, Colo.

“Hopefully, before World Champs, I’ll be able to squeeze in one or two super-Gs,” Shiffrin said. “We’re trying to figure out a way to make something work, but we’re just not sure where or when it would be.”

It won’t be in Lake Louise, Alberta, the first speed races of the season where Lindsey Vonn hopes to make her return from Dec. 5-7.

“I’m not a tucker yet,” Shiffrin said, smiling. “I’ve got to get some more meat packed on me before I can expect to do well there.”

Shiffrin will be expected to continue rising in giant slalom. Her spot atop slalom appears more assured, given Olympic silver medalist Marlies Schild retired last week.

“I guess it wasn’t really a surprise, but it’s still upsetting,” Shiffrin said of the Austrian Schild, one of her skiing idols, who overcame injury, age (32) and a sixth-place first run at the Olympics to swipe slalom silver. “She’s a legend, and I wanted to keep racing with her for a little longer. One of my goals was to succeed in slalom, and to win slaloms, but also one of my goals was to be able to race with her. I’m lucky I got an opportunity to do that.”

Shiffrin’s U.S. Ski Team coach, Roland Pfeifer, recently told SkiRacing.com that Shiffrin produced promising returns in summer training, cleaning up her skiing on a new GS ski.

“With the work we’ve put into it already and a little bit of fine-tuning in Europe heading into Soelden, it’s going to be exciting to see what she’s capable of,” Pfeifer told the website. “She will be better than last year.”

Cautious Lindsey Vonn hopes to chase wins record this season

Vonn wins Spirit of Sport Award at Laureus World Sports Awards

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MONACO (AP) — Lindsey Vonn, Tiger Woods, Novak Djokovic and the France national soccer team were among the winners at the Laureus World Sports Awards, with Woods claiming the Comeback Award 19 years after he was first recognized.

Vonn, who retired during the recent Alpine skiing world championships , took home the Spirit of Sport Award, which is given to an athlete for relentless dedication to his or her career, and France was honored for winning the World Cup in July.

Woods, who won the inaugural World Sportsman of the Year award in 2000, won the Tour Championship in September for his 80th PGA Tour title and his first since August 2013.

Djokovic matched Usain Bolt’s record by being named World Sportsman of the Year for the fourth time after winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. He also earned the honor in 2012, 2015 and 2016.

Simone Biles was named World Sportswoman of the Year for winning four gold, one silver and one bronze medal at the gymnastics world championships. Naomi Osaka won the Breakthrough Award for winning the U.S. Open and Chloe Kim was named the World Action Sportsperson of the Year.

The awards were given in recognition of outstanding sports performance in 2018.

Remembering the day Dan Jansen struck Olympic gold, 25 years ago

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By US Speedskating

Many of us remember that momentous day 25 years ago (Friday, Feb. 18, 1994), when Dan Jansen finally achieved his dream and won an Olympic gold medal in the 1000m in world record fashion at the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway.

It was a moment of triumph and exhilaration for Jansen. It was also a time of celebration for many Americans, the whole world for that matter, to see the down-to-earth, all-American good guy finally snap the Olympic medal jinx in such dramatic fashion. The world was a nicer place when Jansen struck Olympic gold.

“Overall I have been very blessed, because of who I am, what I’ve done and how I did it,” Jansen said. “I am in a position to do positive things in this world. If my visibility and character can be used to create more awareness and raise funds for worthy causes, I am happy to do what I can.”

Dan turned his Olympic glory into another form of gold when he started the Dan Jansen Foundation. Thanks to the generosity of individual donors, corporate contributions and his own charity golf outing, his foundation is helping in the fight against leukemia, assisting high school seniors in pursuit of higher education, and supporting a variety of youth sports programs.

Since 1995, the DJ Foundation has contributed more than $800,000 to needy families and causes.

The DJF/Jane Jansen Beres Family Aid Fund has benefited over 700 families affected by leukemia and related cancers. The DJF Scholarship Fund has helped more than 100 high school seniors who need financial aid and have demonstrated the Dan Jansen spirit toward life, education and overcoming adversity. Olympic speed skaters striving to realize their Olympic dream have been among those who also have benefited.

The goal this year for Dan and the Dan Jansen Foundation is to surpass the $1 million mark in total funds donated to worthy causes and those in need.

In honor of Jansen’s epic Olympic gold medal performance, a special Dan Jansen 25th (Gold turns Silver) Anniversary Tribute is being planned on Saturday, Oct. 12, at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, Wisc.

Donors and participants are being invited to take a trip down memory lane with Jansen; catch up with an Olympic icon and one of Wisconsin’s favorite sons; and honor his achievements with special tributes from the likes of Olympic gold medalists Mike Eruzione (hockey), Kristi Yamaguchi (figure skating), Bonnie Blair (speedskating) and other luminaries. They’ll also be showing their support for the Dan Jansen Foundation.

In addition, Dan serves on the Board of Directors for Cool Kids Campaign Foundation. This foundation provides services and resources to children with cancer and their families in Baltimore, MD and soon in Charlotte, NC. To learn more about Cool Kids Campaign Foundation, go to coolkidscampaign.com

For information on the attending this charity fundraising event or making a donation to this, cause visit djfoundation.org or contact Sean Callahan, Executive Director Dan Jansen Foundation at 414-687-7781.

MORE: Catching up with Bonnie Blair

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