Mikaela Shiffrin rebounds from Olympics, wins World Cup slalom title

Leave a comment

Mikaela Shiffrin rebounded from missing the Olympic slalom podium to clinch her fifth World Cup slalom season title with her 42nd career World Cup victory, most for any racer before turning 23 years old.

Shiffrin, shockingly fourth in the PyeongChang slalom, prevailed by .09 over Swiss Wendy Holdener in Ofterschwang, Germany, on Saturday. PyeongChang gold medalist Frida Hansdotter of Sweden was third.

Full results are here.

Holdener has never won a World Cup slalom but does have 16 podium finishes, including 12 in races won by Shiffrin.

“For Wendy, I knew she had a really good run because I could hear the announcers from the top, but I thought ‘not today Wendy!’” Shiffrin said, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

Shiffrin notched her 11th win this season, matching her total from last season, and in her last possible race broke the record for most wins before turning 23. She turns 23 on Tuesday, one day before the World Cup Finals start in Are, Sweden.

Shiffrin already clinched a repeat World Cup overall title. Only Swiss Vreni Schneider won more World Cup slalom season titles (six) than Shiffrin’s five.

Austrian legend Annemarie Moser-Proell won her 41st race at age 21, then took a whole season off to care for her father before he died of lung cancer in 1976. Moser-Proell returned and won another 21 races. Her last race was at age 26.

Shiffrin is now tied for fifth on the women’s career World Cup wins list with Swede Anja PärsonLindsey Vonn, who did not race this weekend but will be in Are, holds the record of 81 wins. Vonn had seven wins when she turned 23.

“My biggest challenge this year has not been the Olympics or the (World Cup) overall or any of that, but getting motivated for these last races,” Shiffrin said.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Best Alpine skiing moments of PyeongChang Olympics

Jessie Diggins, inspired by Body Issue, shares eating disorder battle

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jessie Diggins hopes to open a conversation about body image after appearing in ESPN the Magazine‘s “Body Issue.” The Olympic gold medalist detailed her own experience with an eating disorder as a teenager in what she called “the most important blog I’ll ever write.”

“When I was 18-19 years old, I had everything in the world going for me, but I struggled with confidence and didn’t love myself,” Diggins, now 26, wrote on her website. “I suffered from an eating disorder, and eventually sought help at a treatment center, checking in for a summer program that saved my life. So when I was approached about the ESPN issue, I thought “is this REALLY something I want to do? Will it bring back old memories? Will I be ok with everyone seeing my body exactly as it is?”

Diggins is remembered for winning the first U.S. Olympic cross-country skiing title with Kikkan Randall in PyeongChang (Here comes Diggins!). In the cross-country world, she’s also reputed for her bubbly presence, spreading glitter across her face and sharing it with fellow skiers before races.

She wants to be associated with much more.

“I want to be known not for going through an eating disorder, but for helping other women and men speak up when they need help and not feel judged for needing a friend to talk it through with,” Diggins wrote. “Statistically speaking, at least 6% of you reading this right now are struggling with disordered eating in some way. So to those of you for whom it feels like the end of the world, I can say this: it can, and it does, get better. I know, because I lived it. It will take more courage than most anything else in your life, but you can get better. And it’s worth it.”

Years before becoming a medal-winning athlete, Diggins checked into The Emily Program, a national leader for eating disorder treatment.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but also the most important,” she wrote. “Because it saved my life, in every way that a life can be saved. I learned that I was struggling with this so much because I needed an outlet for stress, and that it was ok to feel a range of emotions – that I could survive feeling pressured, stressed, unhappy, sad, or angry as well as feeling happy-go-lucky.”

Diggins called posing for the Body Issue “a full-circle moment.” ESPN says the Body Issue celebrates every shape and size of athletes in artful fashion.

“[It’s] a chance for me to use a large stage to waltz right up to the microphone and share a message that I think is extremely important, and long overdue,” Diggins wrote. “We need to open up the conversation about body image, self confidence, and disordered eating. It should not be a shameful thing, or a taboo topic. It’s more prevalent than people think, and perhaps making help easier to find and less difficult to ask for could save some lives.”

MORE: Biathlon legend retires with four Olympic golds

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Darya Domracheva, triple Olympic gold medalist in Sochi, retires

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Darya Domracheva, a triple 2014 Olympic gold medalist and Belarus’ most decorated Olympian, has retired from biathlon at age 31.

Domracheva is leaving the sport because she could not continue in biathlon while raising daughter Xenia with husband Ole Einar Bjørndalen, the 13-time Olympic medalist biathlete for Norway.

“All the time after the season, I was trying to find a compromise which would allow me to raise a child and combine with a professional career at the same time,” Domracheva said, according to the International Biathlon Union (IBU). “Unfortunately I did not find an optimal solution which would allow me to combine those two important life parts. This decision is well weighted and very tough, but I finish my sports career.”

Domracheva was one of the biggest stars of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games as the only athlete to claim three individual gold medals, four years after being put on a Belarus postage stamp for earning an individual bronze. Domracheva could have competed for Russia, having been born in Minsk but raised in the remote western Siberia oil boom town of Nyagan, the birthplace of Maria Sharapova.

She became Belarus’ first female Olympic champion, saying she was “the hope of” Belarus, then was awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor, “Hero of Belarus.”

After winning her only World Cup overall title in 2015, Domracheva missed the 2015-16 campaign with glandular fever, then in April 2016 announced she and Bjørndalen were in a relationship and having a child.

Domracheva returned to take a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships, then entered PyeongChang ranked fifth in the world. Domracheva struggled early in PyeongChang with finishes of ninth, 37th and 27th before earning mass start silver and relay gold.

Her six career Olympic medals are two more than anybody else from Belarus, and her four golds are double anybody else’s total from her country.

Belarus has only competed independently since the 1994 Lillehammer Games, having previously been part of the Soviet Union. Its top athletes who competed under other flags included gymnasts Olga Korbut (six medals, four golds for the Soviets) and Vitaly Scherbo (six golds in 1992 for the Unified Team; four bronzes in 1996 for Belarus).

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

MORE: Biathlon president steps down after doping raid

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!