Mikaela Shiffrin starts 2020 by putting 2019 in its place; Zagreb TV, live stream schedule

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Mikaela Shiffrin said she didn’t sleep for three days after what may prove a turning point in her season, a 17th-place giant slalom finish on Dec. 17. She described her skiing that day as “appalling.”

“I really, really hope I haven’t messed this up for the rest of the season,” Shiffrin said of her thoughts at the time in Courchevel, France. “There’s also the other aspect of it. … After the [record] 17 victories last season, it’s been more difficult than I expected to not compare every move I make this season to what I did last season and to not feel like, no matter what I do, I’m coming up short either overall points wise or race wins wise or how I’m handling my energy.”

Shiffrin then skipped the following weekend’s races before sweeping a giant slalom and slalom in Lienz, Austria, last weekend.

She’s back on track heading into the first race of 2020, a slalom in Zagreb, Croatia on Saturday (10 a.m. ET, Olympic Channel and NBC Sports Gold). She’s favored to earn her 65th World Cup victory and 44th in a slalom to break Lindsey Vonn‘s record for the most victories in a single discipline for a woman.

Shiffrin said she would use “appalling” to describe many of her races over a decade-long career.

“But none of them have ended up with a result as low as Courchevel,” she said of her worst finish in a technical race — outside of DNFs — in more than five years. “It was more than anything a wake-up call that everybody’s improving. I never expect to win races, and I never expect to even podium, but I really can’t just come to the finish line crossing my fingers that it might be good enough. I have to make it good enough. If I don’t, then I might be in 17th place.”

Shiffrin’s parents traveled to Europe for Christmas week, as planned, but her mom and longtime coach, Eileen, flew over two days early. Back in the fall, Eileen had stepped back from her coaching role (mutual decision) and didn’t travel for the season-opening slalom in November.

The hope is that Eileen will stay in Europe through a Jan. 14 slalom in Flachau, Austria. Possibly through speed races in late January and early February.

“She gives me strength that I can’t find within myself,” Shiffrin said. “I could really feel that this past weekend [in Lienz]. It’s always been that way.”

Shiffrin won four of her last five starts in the Zagreb slalom, which awards a crystal Snow Queen crown to winners. She made the podium of the last 14 traditional World Cup slaloms, winning all but one of them.

That kind of dominance allowed Shiffrin to train slalom just once or twice in the first four weeks of December yet still prevail in Lienz by .61 of a second.

But it’s Shiffrin’s GS struggles — even if just one day of 17th-place racing after making the previous six podiums — that led her to question if she had peaked at age 24. She listed that one result as one of her most unforgettable moments of 2019, along with winning last season’s slalom world title and giant slalom World Cup title, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Maybe the best version of me is in the past, and that kind of stinks,” said Shiffrin, who at 64 World Cup wins trails just Marcel Hirscher (67), Lindsey Vonn (82) and Ingemar Stenmark (86). “This last week [before Lienz] I’ve been trying to come to terms with that not really being the reality. It’s just not comparable. I’ve said it in interviews, and I have to start believing that.”

Shiffrin could be in for her busiest start to a calendar year yet, hopefully contesting the next speed races in Austria from Jan. 11-12, and noting further speed weekends in Bulgaria (Jan. 25-26) and Russia (Feb. 1-2).

“It sounds really ridiculous even reflecting on it now,” Shiffrin, who appears en route to a fourth straight overall title, said of the Courchevel 17th. “Maybe I just needed to get a grip on reality or gain some perspective, but at the same time this is what I’m doing, and I want to do it as well as I can. It’s a big deal, at least in my own head and what I felt in my heart.”

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MORE: Shiffrin among 10 dominant Winter Olympians of 2010s decade

Joel Embiid gains U.S. citizenship, mum on Olympic nationality

Joel Embiid
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Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid said he is now a U.S. citizen and it’s way too early to think about what nation he would represent at the Olympics.

“I just want to be healthy and win a championship and go from there,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Embiid, 28, was born in Cameroon and has never competed in a major international tournament. In July, he gained French nationality, a step toward being able to represent that nation at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In the spring, French media reported that Embiid started the process to become eligible to represent France in international basketball, quoting national team general manager Boris Diaw.

Embiid was second in NBA MVP voting this season behind Serbian Nikola Jokic. He was the All-NBA second team center.

What nation Embiid represents could have a major impact on the Paris Games.

In Tokyo, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.

That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas BatumEvan FournierTimothe Luwawu-CabarrotFrank Ntilikina and Gobert.

Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone U.S. center to make an All-NBA team in the last five seasons. In that time, Embiid made four All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.

No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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LA 2028, Delta unveil first-of-its-kind emblems for Olympics, Paralympics

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LA 2028
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Emblems for the 2028 Los Angeles Games that include logos of Delta Air Lines is the first integration of its kind in Olympic and Paralympic history.

Organizers released the latest set of emblems for the LA 2028 Olympics and Paralympics on Thursday, each with a Delta symbol occupying the “A” spot in LA 28.

Two years ago, the LA 2028 logo concept was unveiled with an ever-changing “A” that allowed for infinite possibilities. Many athletes already created their own logos, as has NBC.

“You can make your own,” LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman said in 2020. “There’s not one way to represent Los Angeles, and there is strength in our diverse cultures. We have to represent the creativity and imagination of Los Angeles, the diversity of our community and the big dreams the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide.”

Also in 2020, Delta was announced as LA 2028’s inaugural founding partner. Becoming the first partner to have an integrated LA 2028 emblem was “extremely important for us,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director, brand marketing and sponsorships.

“It is a symbol of our partnership with LA, our commitment to the people there, as well as those who come through LA, and a commitment to the Olympics,” she said.

The ever-changing emblem succeeds an angelic bid logo unveiled in February 2016 when the city was going for the 2024 Games, along with the slogan, “Follow the Sun.” In July 2017, the IOC made a historic double awarding of the Olympics and Paralympics — to Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028.

The U.S. will host its first Olympics and Paralympics since 2002 (and first Summer Games since 1996), ending its longest drought between hosting the Games since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

Delta began an eight-year Olympic partnership in 2021, becoming the official airline of Team USA and the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Athletes flew to this year’s Winter Games in Beijing on chartered Delta flights and will do so for every Games through at least 2028.

Previously, Delta sponsored the last two Olympics held in the U.S. — the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

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