Mikaela Shiffrin gets first win of Olympic season in rout (video)

Leave a comment

KILLINGTON, Vt. — Mikaela Shiffrin reclaimed her slalom dominance, at least for one day, with her first win of the Olympic season on Sunday.

The youngest Olympic slalom champion routed the field in windy conditions with flurries falling at the East Coast resort.

Shiffrin, 22, led by .89 after the morning run and ended up 1.64 seconds ahead following the second and final afternoon run.

Shiffrin’s new rival, Slovakian Petra Vlhova, was second, followed by Austrian Bernadette Schild.

Full results are here.

Before this race, Shiffrin was beaten in consecutive slaloms by the same woman for the first time in nearly four years. That woman, Vlhova, is three months younger than the U.S. phenom.

Shiffrin also went winless in her first three races of a season for the first time since the 2012-13 campaign. Shiffrin did, though, notch runner-up finishes in two of those three, including Saturday’s giant slalom in Killington.

That augured success for her fourth race this fall in her trademark discipline Sunday.

Shiffrin didn’t disappoint, posting the fastest time in both runs, though she believed the wind aided her in the opening run.

Her margin of victory was the largest for any women’s World Cup race since Shiffrin won the March 2016 World Cup Finals slalom by 2.03 seconds.

“There’s definitely a bit of a relief feeling,” said Shiffrin, who was so nervous last season that she puked before races but has kept everything down in the Olympic season thus far. “When I ski really good slalom, it almost feels like I’m flying. I had a bit of that feeling both runs today.”

Shiffrin and Vlhova trained together for two sessions two weeks ago before the first World Cup slalom of the season in Finland.

It was unusual for Shiffrin to train with a woman who beat her in the last slalom of the previous season, but when she arrived at the venue two days before the race, Vlhova was already there.

So they went head-to-head. Sometimes, Shiffrin was faster. Others, Vlhova was faster.

“I was almost like a deer in the headlights because I hadn’t really felt one particular person who was really pushing me that hard like she was in those training sessions,” said Shiffrin, unequivocally the world’s best slalom skier for the last four years. “I see something different in her that it makes me want to be better, if that makes sense. Not just to win races, but to hold myself to a higher standard of skiing.”

Once they were done, Vlhova put her hand on Shiffrin’s shoulder and thanked her. Shiffrin was fuming before that, “because I hate training with anybody who’s even close to me.”

But the gesture forced Shiffrin to change.

“It’s like competing against Roger Federer, you want to hate him, but you can’t,” said Shiffrin, who hasn’t trained with Vlhova since (Vlhova’s coach reportedly takes video of Shiffrin for them to study so much that Shiffrin’s mom said that Vlhova “skis like Mikaela more than Mikaela skis like Mikaela.”). “That was really nice of [Vlhova] to say, but I still want to beat you.”

Vlhova went on to beat Shiffrin by one tenth of a second, overcoming Shiffrin’s lead of .21 after the first run.

“That’s what sort of set the tone,” Shiffrin said of those days in Finland. “It reminds me of how I like to work. Kudos to her, and I’m just going to try to do better.”

Vlhova gestured with her hand in a press conference after Sunday’s race. She held it level when speaking of Shiffrin. She waved it back and forth when talking about her own skiing.

“[Shiffrin is] like every race she goes without mistakes,” said Vlhova, who was in fifth place after a surprisingly slow first run Sunday morning. “This is maybe what I have to learn from Mikaela, that she goes like this and she’s always on the top.”

The World Cup moves to Lake Louise, Alberta, next weekend.

Shiffrin is expected to join Lindsey Vonn for two downhills and a super-G starting Friday.

Julia Mancuso, a medalist at each of the last three Olympics, is uncertain to race in what she hoped would be her first events since March 2015 following prolonged hip problems.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Alpine skiing season TV schedule

Killington Slalom
1. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) — 1:40.91
2. Petra Vlhova (SVK) — +1.64
3. Bernadette Schild (AUT) — +2.67
21. Resi Stiegler (USA) — +4.77

Finn Christian Jagge, 1992 Olympic slalom champion, dies at 54

Finn Christian Jagge
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Finn Christian Jagge, the surprise 1992 Olympic slalom champion, has died at age 54, according to Norway’s Olympic Committee.

Jagge’s wife, Trine-Lise Jagge, posted on Facebook that he died of an acute illness.

Jagge, then 25, won the slalom at the Albertville Games in Savoie, France, stunning defending champion Alberto Tomba of Italy. Jagge had the fastest first run by 1.07 seconds and relegated Tomba to silver by .28 of a second after the second run. Tomba was going for his fourth straight Olympic gold medal.

Jagge’s father won a Norwegian record 42 national tennis championships. His mother competed in Alpine skiing at the 1960 and 1964 Olympics, according to Olympedia.org.

Jagge won his first Norwegian national title at age 18. After knee and back injuries, he won seven World Cup slaloms in the 1990s, retiring in 2000.

Vår største kjærlighet, vår største helt og klippe. Verdens beste Pappa og verdens beste MesterHubby, døde i dag, etter akutt sykdom❤️Det er ubeskrivelig vondt og vi er helt knust.

Posted by Trine-Lise Jagge on Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin, Olympian, world champion snowboarder, drowns in spearfishing accident

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Alex “Chumpy” Pullin, an Olympian and world champion snowboarder, drowned while spearfishing on Australia’s Gold Coast on Wednesday.

A police spokesperson said a 32-year-old man, later identified as Pullin, was unresponsive when taken from the water and died despite receiving CPR from lifeguards and emergency treatment from paramedics.

The accident happened at Palm Beach around 10:40 a.m. local time. Pullin had been diving on an artificial reef when he was found by a snorkeler.

“Another diver was out there and located him on the sea floor and raised the attention of nearby surfers who sought lifeguards to bring him in,” police said. “He didn’t have an oxygen mask. We understand he was free diving and spearfishing out on the reef.”

Pullin competed in Olympic snowboard cross in 2010, 2014 and 2018 with a best finish of sixth. He won back-to-back world titles in 2011 and 2013. He carried Australia’s flag at the Sochi Olympic Opening Ceremony in 2014.

“We are all in shock today as one of the most beloved members of our close snow sport community, Chumpy, has sadly lost his life in what appears to be a tragic accident,” Snow Australia CEO Michael Kennedy said in a statement. “He was a mentor to so many of our younger snowboarders, giving up his time to coach and provide advice to our future Olympians. His loss will be felt right across our community.

“We know it won’t just be here in Australia that Chumpy’s legacy will be remembered, but throughout the international snowboarding community. It wasn’t just his ability to deliver results that will be missed, but his leadership and the path that he laid for so many.”

His parents owned a ski and snowboard shop in the Australian Alps, where Pullin began riding at age 8. Older friends gave him the nickname “Chumpy,” and it stuck.

Pullin, who spent time as a frontman for the surf-reggae band love Charli, often brought a guitar with him while traveling for competitions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.