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Shiffrin refocusing, recuperating with eyes on slalom, GS

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ARE, Sweden — Following a stressful Olympic year, Mikaela Shiffrin has been scaling back her schedule at every opportunity this season.

Her latest move involved leaving the site of the world championships in Sweden soon after her super-G victory Tuesday to recharge and prepare for next week’s giant slalom and slalom.

Austrian media reported that Shiffrin left Are by helicopter for training in Trysil, Norway — forcing her ski technician to haul her equipment in a drive of six-plus hours across the border to catch up with her.

“She’s going off the grid for a bit, wants to keep it private,” the U.S. Ski Team told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Since she will not be competing in Friday’s Alpine combined race, Shiffrin has more than a week before her next events of giant slalom and slalom on Feb. 14 and 16. She is expected back in Are on Monday.

“The slalom and GS are her main goals and targets,” U.S. head coach Paul Kristofic said.

At last year’s Pyeongchang Olympics, Shiffrin got stressed out by schedule changes and postponements and followed her gold-medal performance in giant slalom with only a fourth-place finish in slalom — her best event.

Shiffrin will be a big favorite to win both the GS and slalom in Are, putting her in position to match Anja Paerson’s three-gold performance from the 2007 worlds at the same venue.

“She has the capacity to, absolutely,” Kristofic said.

Paerson actually won five medals in 2007, winning super-G, combined and downhill plus silver in the team event and bronze in the slalom.

Shiffrin won’t compete in Sunday’s downhill or Tuesday’s team event.

“She’s competitive in everything she starts,” Kristofic said. “It’s outstanding and astonishing and it’s hard to put into words. … It’s a huge challenge and she’s up for it all the time.”

Helen Maroulis to miss world championships, eyes still on defending Olympic title

Helen Maroulis
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Helen Maroulis, the lone U.S. female wrestler to win an Olympic title, sat out this past weekend’s world team trials, which means she will not compete at the world championships in September.

Maroulis is working her way back from blowing out her right shoulder in a first-round loss at worlds on Oct. 24, after she returned from a concussion. She underwent surgery in November and was cleared to return earlier this spring before tweaking the shoulder again.

Maroulis said Friday she was cleared again to compete at trials but chose rest, recovery and her long-term health given what happened in 2018.

“It’s not coming from a place of fear,” she said. “I’m just not ready yet.

“If trials were end of June, everything would be perfect. I’m still feeling good and confident for 2020.”

As Maroulis stressed at 2018 Worlds, she prioritizes health over wrestling.

“Not just for myself, but to set an example because I get a lot of messages from kids on Instagram — I have a concussion, or my teammate has a concussion.” Maroulis said in October. “There’s this wrestler mindset to just push through — you’re the toughest, find a way to win. But there’s just a lot more to it.”

Maroulis, 27, put together one of the most dominant stretches in sport from 2015-17, going 78-1 overall among three different weight classes and going unscored upon at two world championships.

In between, she beat Saori Yoshida in the Rio Olympic 53kg final, preventing the Japanese legend from a record fourth Olympic title.

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Ex-partner of deceased figure skater John Coughlin says she was abused

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — One of the former skating partners of two-time U.S. pairs champion John Coughlin has accused him in a series of social media posts of sexually assaulting her over a 2-year period.

Bridget Namiotka said on Facebook that Coughlin, who died by suicide in January, hurt “at least 10 people including me.” She skated with Coughlin from 2004, when she was 14, through the 2007 season.

Namiotka’s attorney confirmed to The Associated Press that the comments were made by her.

The U.S. Center for SafeSport and U.S. Figure Skating had given Coughlin, who became a coach and TV commentator after his retirement, an interim suspension for unspecified conduct. He was barred from attending events and activities sanctioned by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Coughlin was found dead Jan. 18 at his father’s home in Kansas City, Missouri.