Mikaela Shiffrin, Emma Lundell

Mikaela Shiffrin shares podium with girl with leukemia

Leave a comment

Mikaela Shiffrin moved closer to clinching her third straight World Cup slalom season title with an easy victory in Are, Sweden, on Saturday.

Shiffrin, the Olympic and World champion who turned 20 on Friday, prevailed by 1.41 seconds over two runs. Slovakia’s Veronika Velez Zuzulova took second, followed by Czech Sarka Strachova.

Shiffrin moved 90 points ahead in the World Cup slalom season standings with one race left at the World Cup Finals in Meribel, France, next week. Shiffrin will earn her third straight season title if she finishes 15th or better in Meribel, or if Swede Frida Hansdotter does not win.

She hopes to become the first woman in 20 years to win three straight World Cup slalom season titles.

Shiffrin shared the podium with Emma Lundell, a 13-year-old Swede fighting leukemia whom Shiffrin first met after her maiden World Cup win in 2012. Lundell brought Shiffrin to tears last year.

“I feel that beats anything I can do on the race hill,” Shiffrin said of Lundell. “So she deserves to be on the top step of the podium.”

Lundell’s health has improved so much since 2012 that she’s no longer taking medicines, according to The Associated Press.

source: Getty Images
Mikaela Shiffrin and Emma Lundell share the podium and Shiffrin’s bouquet. (Getty Images)

“[Shiffrin] has meant so much to me,” Lundell said, according to the AP. “It was huge for me that a big star like her would see me. It gave me the strength to continue fighting.”

In the final run Saturday, Shiffrin gave up about half of her first-run lead of .92 to Zuzulova midway through the course.

“Sometimes I hear the announcers when I’m skiing, and I thought I was behind,” Shiffrin said. “So I was like, ‘Go faster! Go faster!'”

But she made it all back up — and then some — in the bottom section to secure one of the easier victories of the 14 in her career.

Slovenian Tina Maze squandered an opportunity to retake the World Cup overall lead, finishing 16th. Austrian Anna Fenninger goes into the four-race World Cup Finals with a 30-point edge over Maze and is likely to win her second straight World Cup overall title.

In men’s action Saturday, France’s Alexis Pinturault won a giant slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, by .68 over Austrian Marcel Hirscher. Hirscher clinched the giant slalom season title over Olympic and World champion Ted Ligety, who was fourth Saturday. Ligety had won the World Cup title the previous two seasons.

Hannah Kearney hesitant to make retirement announcement

‘Into the Wild’ snowboarder rebounds after it went ‘horribly wrong’ in Sochi

Sam Girard, Olympic short track champion, surprisingly retires at age 22

Sam Girard
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Sam Girard, who avoided a three-skater pileup to win the PyeongChang Olympic 1000m, retired from short track speed skating at age 22, saying he lost the desire to compete.

“I leave my sport satisfied with what I have accomplished,” Girard said in a press release. “This decision was very well thought through. I am at peace with the choice that I’ve made and am ready to move onto the next step.”

Girard and girlfriend and fellow Olympic skater Kasandra Bradette announced their careers end together in a tearful French-language press conference in Quebec on Friday.

Girard detailed the decision in a letter, the sacrifices made to pursue skating. Notably, moving from his hometown of Ferland-et-Boilleau, population 600, to Montreal in 2012. His hobbies had been of the outdoor variety, but he now had to drive an hour and a half from the training center just to go fishing.

In PyeongChang, Girard led for most of the 1000m final, which meant he avoided chaos behind him on the penultimate lap of the nine-lap race. Hungarian Liu Shaolin Sandor‘s inside pass took out South Koreans Lim Hyo-Jun and Seo Yi-Ra, leaving just Girard and American John-Henry Krueger.

Girard maintained his lead, crossing .214 in front of Krueger to claim the title. He also finished fourth in the 500m and 1500m and earned bronze in the relay.

“My first Olympics, won a gold medal, can’t ask for more,” he said afterward.

Though Girard was already accomplished — earning individual silver medals at the 2016 and 2017 Worlds — he came to PyeongChang as the heir apparent to Charles Hamelin, a roommate on the World Cup circuit whom Girard likened to a big brother. Girard earned another world silver medal this past season.

Hamelin, after taking individual gold in 2010 and 2014, left PyeongChang without an individual medal in what many expected to be his last Olympics. However, he went back on a retirement vow and continued to skate through the 2018-19 season.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: J.R. Celski explains decision to retire

Maia, Alex Shibutani extend break from ice dance competition

AP
Leave a comment

Brother-sister ice dance duo Maia and Alex Shibutani will not compete next season, the Olympic bronze medalists announced via U.S. Figure Skating on Friday.

“We’re healthier and stronger than we were after the Olympics, and we’re continuing to push ourselves,” Maia Shibutani said in a press release.

“We’ve continued to skate a lot, and we feel like we’ve benefited from some time away to create in different environments and focus on experiences that can help us grow,” Alex said.

The “Shib Sibs” won the U.S. title in 2016 and 2017. They won their first world medal in 2011 (bronze) before reaching the world podium again in 2016 and 2017 with silver and bronze, respectively.

They most recently competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where they earned bronze both individually and in the team event.

Maia and Alex Shibutani are now the second ice dance medalists from PyeongChang to announce they’ll sit out at least part of next season. Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada will tour instead this fall and are not expected to return to competition.

The siblings haven’t stayed away from the ice entirely in their break from the sport, though — they’ve also been touring and performing in shows.

The Shibutanis became the second set of siblings to earn Olympic ice dance medals after France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay in 1992.

MORE: How Gracie Gold landed in Philadelphia, thoughts competitive return

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!