Mikaela Shiffrin begins Olympic season this weekend on Peacock

Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup - Women's Giant Slalom
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Mikaela Shiffrin‘s campaign for a third Olympic Winter Games begins bright and early Saturday morning.

Shiffrin will take to the hills of the Rettenbach glacier in Austria to kick off the 2021-2022 FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup season.

The two-run women’s giant slalom race in Soelden starts at 4 a.m. Eastern; the second run is at 7:15 a.m. Both runs will be streamed live on Peacock.

The men’s giant slalom races will be streamed live at 4 and 7:30 a.m. ET on Sunday.

Shiffrin, now 26, has accomplished what only few in the sport have: three Olympic medals, eight world championship medals, three overall World Cup crystal globes and 69 World Cup victories.

As the technical specialist starts to accumulate points that will qualify her for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, she hopes to again make a potential run at the overall globe – plus the slalom one.

After winning the slalom title in six of the previous seven seasons, Shiffrin finished second last season. She was also second for the overall, which she held from 2017-2019.

She only amassed three victories last season – her fewest since she started winning races in the 2012-2013 season – but was on the world championship podium in all four races she entered.

This season, Shiffrin has her sights set on returning to the top of the World Cup podium more often and, ideally, entering all five Olympic races come February.

In Sochi at age 18, Shiffrin won the slalom Olympic gold and was fifth in giant slalom; in PyeongChang, she won giant slalom gold, combined silver and was fourth in slalom.

She will be joined by teammates Keely CashmanAJ HurtPaula Moltzan and Nina O’Brien in Soelden.

The men’s giant slalom race features U.S. Olympian Ryan Cochran-Siegle in his return from a broken neck last season plus Bridger Gile, River RadamusPatrick Kenney and George Steffey.

FIS Alpine Ski Soelden World Cup Streaming Schedule:

Saturday, Oct. 23: Women’s Giant Slalom Run 1, 4 a.m. – 6 .a.m. ET, Peacock

Saturday, Oct. 23: Women’s Giant Slalom Run 2, 7:15 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. ET, Peacock

Sunday, Oct. 24: Men’s Giant Slalom Run 1, 4 a.m. – 6 a.m. ET, Peacock

Sunday, Oct. 24: Men’s Giant Slalom Run 2, 7:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. ET, Peacock

Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch

Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

Kyle Smaine

Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”