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Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin share jokes, peace of mind at World Cup Finals

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Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin began answering at the same time when asked at a group press conference about the meaning of this week’s World Cup Finals in Aspen, Colo.

After a brief moment of confusion, Vonn, 32, lifted her microphone to her lips and ceded the floor to Shiffrin, 22.

“Beauty before age,” she deadpanned.

Shiffrin chuckled and answered the question.

“I was just going to say that ‘Dumb and Dumber’ was filmed here,” the Vail native said, drawing laughs and a smile from Vonn. “Everybody’s been talking about it. That’s unique.”

Vonn and another veteran skier on stage, Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal, then turned to Shiffrin and chided her for not being alive when the December 1994 film came out.

World Cup Finals races run from Wednesday through Sunday in Aspen. Vonn and Shiffrin will be skiing with less pressure than years’ past.

“It’s the end of the year,” Vonn would say Monday night. “Everyone’s kind of ready to be done, ready to celebrate.”

The World Cup Finals are the last races of the season on the men’s and women’s World Cup tours, beginning with downhills Wednesday. All races will air on NBC Sports via NBC, NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app (full schedule at the bottom).

The Finals often determine who takes home crystal globes awarded to the best skier’s per discipline and overall for the season.

But Vonn will not add to her total of 20 globes this year due to injuries that kept her off the competition slopes for November, December and half of January. She has too much ground to make up in the downhill and super-G standings.

Shiffrin is too far ahead of the competition to lose the slalom title. She mathematically clinched her fourth slalom globe in five years with her latest victory in an 11-win season Saturday.

Shiffrin has also 99-percent clinched the World Cup overall title, with a 378-point lead going into this week’s races. She will become the fifth American to take home that crystal globe, the biggest annual prize in ski racing.

With globes wrapped up, the dangling carrots for Vonn and Shiffrin this week are purely race victories.

Vonn’s events are up first, a downhill on Wednesday and a super-G on Thursday. Shiffrin’s specialties — slalom and giant slalom — are Saturday and Sunday.

Vonn will hope to add to her total of 77 World Cup wins, which is nine shy of the career record held by retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark. A victory or two in Aspen will lessen the pressure on Vonn to catch Stenmark in the 2017-18 Olympic season.

Vonn, who has averaged about 10 wins per season when healthy, has just one victory this year, coming back from crash-caused knee and arm fractures in 2016.

Slovenian Ilka Stuhec has emerged as the world’s best speed racer, while Italian Sofia Goggia edged Vonn in the downhill and super-G at the 2018 Olympic track two weekends ago.

Shiffrin has no rival in Saturday’s slalom. She has won seven of the nine races in the discipline this season, plus her third straight gold at the world championships.

But Sunday’s giant slalom could feature an interesting head-to-head.

France’s Tessa Worley leads the season GS standings by 80 points over Shiffrin and will wrap up that crystal globe with a top-12 finish. Little intrigue there.

But Shiffrin’s GS has improved this season to the point where she could be considered a favorite to beat Worley in Friday’s race. Shiffrin has won three of the last five World Cup giant slaloms, plus took silver behind Worley at the world championships last month.

Shiffrin is about to wrap up one of the most successful seasons in World Cup history. Her 11 wins in one campaign are the most-ever by an American other than Vonn.

If Shiffrin wins both the slalom on Saturday and the GS on Sunday, she will reach 13 wins this season, only done three times by male or female skiers in World Cup history. And she would get to 33 career World Cup wins, matching Bode Miller‘s total for the second-most by an American.

Behind only Vonn, of course.

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World Cup Finals broadcast schedule
(all NBC, NBCSN coverage also streamed)

Day Time (ET) Network Event
Wednesday 12-2 p.m. NBCSN, Streaming Men’s, Women’s Downhills
Thursday 11:30 a.m. Streaming Women’s Super-G
Thursday 12-2 p.m. NBCSN Women’s, Men’s Super-Gs
Friday 12:30-2 p.m. NBCSN Team Event
Saturday 11 a.m. Streaming Men’s Giant Slalom Run 1
Saturday 12 p.m. Streaming Women’s Slalom Run 1
Saturday 12:30-2 p.m. NBC Men’s GS, Women’s Slalom Run 1s
Saturday 6-8 p.m. NBCSN Men’s GS, Women’s Slalom Run 2s
Sunday 11 a.m. Streaming Women’s Giant Slalom Run 1
Sunday 12 p.m. Streaming Men’s Slalom Run 1
Sunday 1-4 p.m. NBCSN Women’s GS, Men’s Slalom

Kitzbuehel hosts Hahnenkamm weekend; Mikaela Shiffrin speeds up; Alpine World Cup TV, live stream info

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The world’s most daring Alpine skiers descend the most famous annual race this weekend, while Mikaela Shiffrin tackles her own challenge, live on NBC Sports.

The men’s World Cup stops in Kitzbuehel, Austria, for the Hahnenkamm. The granddaddy is Saturday’s downhill, sandwiched between Friday’s super-G and Sunday’s slalom.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been among the celebrity attendees in the finish area. Lindsey Vonn will be on hand this weekend, inspecting the course.

The Streif downhill track is a two-minute, two-mile test of guts: a 3,000-foot drop at an average 65 miles per hour (and maxing out much faster than that). Crashes are commonplace. A helicopter is at the ready to airlift skiers to the nearest hospital.

“You go into the starting gate, and it’s intimidating,” said American Ryan Cochran-Siegle, who makes his Kitzbuehel downhill debut on Saturday. “You don’t really know how it’s going to go. You think it’s just going to be kind of chaos.”

Cochran-Siegle, whose uncle Bob Cochran was the first American to earn a World Cup podium in the race in 1973, used two words to describe the Streif: fun … and fear.

The only American to win the Hahnenkamm downhill was Daron Rahlves in 2003. The last podium finisher was Bode Miller in 2014. The best U.S. finish the last four years was 10th.

Bryce Bennett took confidence from finishing seventh at a World Cup downhill in Wengen, Switzerland, last Saturday. That’s the best U.S. downhill finish this season outside of the home snow of Beaver Creek, Colo.

“Team morale is good, and it’s been great all season long,” said Steven Nyman, who was fifth in 2015. “We’re looking for those top-tier performances. Bryce’s seventh is a good step forward. We all know we can ski well, and it’s cool as a team we’re pushing toward the top, but we’re not there yet.”

Over in Bansko, Bulgaria, Shiffrin is expected to race downhills Friday and Saturday and a super-G on Sunday. They would mark the slalom ace’s first downhills outside of Lake Louise and Cortina d’Ampezzo, which she’s contested a combined 10 times.

Shiffrin made the podium of her last super-G in St. Moritz and her last downhill in Lake Louise, both in December. She’s coming off surprising results in slaloms and giant slaloms, not having won in her last five starts overall.

Still, Shiffrin leads the World Cup overall standings by a substantial 199 points with a tour-leading four outright victories this season.

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MORE: Alpine skiing season TV schedule

Day Time (ET) Event Network
Friday 3:30 a.m. Women’s Downhill Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. Men’s Super-G NBC Sports Gold
Saturday 3:30 a.m. Women’s Downhill Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. Men’s Downhill NBC Sports Gold
9 a.m.* Women’s Downhill NBCSN
Sunday 3:30 a.m. Women’s Super-G Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
4:30 a.m. Men’s Slalom Run 1 NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. Men’s Slalom Run 2 NBC Sports Gold
12:30 p.m.* Women’s Super-G NBCSN
Monday 1 p.m.* Kitzbuehel Highlights NBCSN

*Delayed broadcast

Maya Moore withdraws from Olympic consideration

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Maya Moore, the U.S. second-leading scorer at the Rio Olympics, withdrew her name from Tokyo Olympic consideration and will skip a second straight WNBA season.

Moore is on hiatus from competitive basketball to focus on criminal justice reform. Specifically, the case of a man who was sentenced to 50 years in prison but Moore believes is innocent, according to The New York Times.

USA Basketball confirmed Wednesday’s Times report that Moore took her name out of consideration for the 12-player Tokyo Olympic team, which is expected to be named in late spring or early summer.

“We are going to miss Maya tremendously, but we also respect her decision,” U.S. women’s national team director Carol Callan said, according to the report. “A player of Maya’s ability does not walk away from the gym lightly. Everyone feels it. The thing that makes her so special is her approach, her dedication, which has always been contagious for our team.”

Moore last played for the U.S. in major competition at the Rio Olympics. She was one of the leaders on a team that earned a sixth straight gold medal. Moore started all eight games and averaged 12 points per game, second on the team behind fellow former University of Connecticut star Diana Taurasi.

Breanna Stewart, another former UConn standout, entered the starting lineup at the 2018 FIBA World Cup in Moore’s absence and earned tournament MVP. Stewart is returning after missing the entire 2019 WNBA season with an Achilles tear.

Moore also started five games at the 2012 London Olympics as the team’s youngest player.

Moore, 30, said “this is not the time” to retire, according to the Times, but it’s unknown when she might return to the national team or to the WNBA, where she won four titles and an MVP with the Minnesota Lynx from 2011-18.

“I got to experience the best of my craft, and I did that multiple times,” Moore said, according to the report. “There is nothing more I wish I could experience.”

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