Mikaela Shiffrin eyes return from injury

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Olympic and World slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin expects to return this season after partially tearing her right MCL and suffering a bone bruise in a Dec. 12 crash, she told NBC Sports’ Steve Porino in an interview that aired on NBCSN on Saturday.

Shiffrin, who did not require surgery, previously said three days after the crash that a return this season was “unlikely,” according to the Denver Post.

But three weeks of rehab later Shiffrin was in higher spirits. She said the original timetable told to her was an absence of four to 12 weeks.

“I swear I could go skiing today, that’s how I feel,” Shiffrin told Porino. “At least my mental game is there. … I’d say it’s gone from unlikely to very possible that I can race. Like, from my perspective, [aside from] the doctors and parents and physios and everyone else’s side, I think I’ll be racing before the end of the season. The bummer about this injury is that you’re really in the dark, basically the whole time [about when you can return].”

Shiffrin captured the World Cup slalom title each of the last three seasons to go along with 2013 and 2015 World Championships and 2014 Olympic gold.

In this season’s slalom standings, she trails Swedish leader Frida Hansdotter by 165 points after five of 11 scheduled races.

The next two slaloms are scheduled for Tuesday and Friday. If Shiffrin misses those, Hansdotter, with podium results, can all but assure that Shiffrin would have no chance to win a fourth straight World Cup slalom season title.

Before her warm-up crash Dec. 12, she was a favorite to challenge Lindsey Vonn for the World Cup overall title. Now, Vonn is chasing Swiss Lara Gut for that crown.

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