Meghan Duggan, following a trailblazer’s path, plans post-pregnancy return to U.S. hockey team

Meghan Duggan
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Meghan Duggan, captain of the Olympic champion U.S. hockey team, is working out through her pregnancy with a plan to return to the national team.

Duggan, due Feb. 26 with her first child, said she is following training regimens used by Olympic teammates and new moms Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando during their pregnancies.

Lamoureux-Morando’s husband, a professional strength coach who has studied working with pregnant athletes, tailored a program for Duggan.

The 32-year-old also noted the U.S. women’s national team’s new contract — struck in 2017 as the entire roster was ready to boycott the world championship — which includes maternity protection.

Duggan, who didn’t play last year and last suited up for Team USA at the PyeongChang Olympics, declined to detail specifics of how the maternity protection applies to her.

“But I think that the plan that we have in place with USA Hockey is a really great one for players on pregnancy leave,” she said by phone Thursday ahead of being honored by the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis at the 34th Great Sports Legends Dinner in New York on Monday.

Duggan and the Lamoureux twins, who returned on ice to national team activity in August, would not be the first moms on a U.S. Olympic hockey team.

Duggan remembers her first worlds, in 2007, when Jenny Potter competed less than three months after having son Cullen.

“I admire her still, to this day, for doing that,” said Duggan, whose due date is one day after the 10th anniversary of the Olympic final that she and Potter played together in Vancouver. “I don’t think back then, as a 19-year-old kid, I was in the mind frame of thinking ahead of being in this position, but I do certainly remember Jenny being an absolute trailblazer in that respect.”

Potter actually played at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Olympics as a mom. Her daughter, Madison, is a freshman swimmer at Notre Dame.

For Duggan to similarly return for an April worlds after a winter pregnancy might be too tight of a turnaround attempt. “But we’ll see,” she said.

Duggan is already older than any previous U.S. Olympic female hockey player. If she comes back to make the 2022 Beijing Winter Games, she would tie the record for U.S. Olympic hockey appearances that Potter shares with others.

In September 2018, Duggan married fellow Olympic champion Gillian Apps, who earned gold for Canada in 2006, 2010 and 2014, beating Duggan’s U.S. teams in the latter two finals.

Together, they own four Olympic gold medals and 10 world titles. They have not decided if their child, sex not yet known, would represent the U.S. or Canada down the road.

“It’ll be a heated debate,” Duggan said. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

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Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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