U.S. ski jumper Anna Hoffmann a late entry into Olympics

U.S. Nordic Combined & Ski Jump Olympic Trials
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The U.S. will have a female ski jumper at the Olympics after all.

Anna Hoffmann, originally the sixth alternate, got into the Olympic field after two nations returned a quota spot and four of the top five alternate nations declined spots, according to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Hoffmann, 21, won the Olympic Trials on Christmas but was not expected to make it to the Beijing Games due to the U.S. not performing well in international competitions to earn any Olympic berths outright.

“We’re a developing, growing team, and we’re more focused on the depth of our team and the long shot of it,” Hoffmann said earlier this winter on NPR.

Had the U.S. not had any female ski jumpers at the Olympics for the first time, it would have been a notable absence.

The nation was at the forefront of the fight for women’s ski jumping’s inclusion in the Games. Americans were at the heart of early milestones in women’s ski jumping.

In 2008, Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome were among 15 female ski jumpers to sue the 2010 Vancouver Organizing Committee for gender discrimination over not having women’s ski jumping on the Olympic program. Men’s ski jumping has been on the program since the first Winter Games in 1924.

While the British Columbia Supreme Court declared the IOC exhibited gender discrimination by excluding women’s ski jumping, it stopped short of forcing organizers to hold an event, stating that Canadian law had no jurisdiction over the IOC.

In 2009, Van won the first women’s event in world ski jumping championships history.

After women’s ski jumping was added to the Olympic program for the 2014 Sochi Games, American Sarah Hendrickson became the first woman to take a competitive ski jump in Olympic history.

Van and Jerome retired after their lone Olympics in 2014. Hendrickson announced her retirement last March. A U.S. ski jumper hasn’t finished in the top 10 in an individual World Cup in nearly five years.

The U.S. men earned three Olympic quota spots in ski jumping but failed to qualify for the Olympic team event for the first time. The men’s team event was added in 1988.

NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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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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