Shiffrin claims bronze in GS; Vlhova wins gold

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ARE, Sweden (AP) — Mikaela Shiffrin’s careful planning failed to pay off at the world championships as her gold-medal bid in the giant slalom was blown off course by strong winds and a Slovakian rival emerging as the biggest threat to her Alpine skiing dominance.

Petra Vlhova won Slovakia’s first world title Thursday after finishing 0.14 seconds ahead of Viktoria Rebensburg in a giant slalom raced in tough conditions because of winds that reached 70 kph (43.5 mph) and unseasonably high temperatures.

Shiffrin won the bronze medal, 0.38 seconds back.

Watch Shiffrin in slalom on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on NBC

Vlhova won silver on Friday in the Alpine combined — an event Shiffrin chose to skip, to the surprise of some, to preserve energy for the giant slalom and slalom after winning the super-G on the opening day of competition.

However, Shiffrin was 0.44 seconds off Rebensburg’s lead after the first run and had only the sixth fastest run in second leg.

Vlhova put her hands to her head when Rebensburg, who was last down in the second leg, crossed the line with the second-best time. Rebensburg, the 2010 Olympic champion in giant slalom, was 0.40 seconds ahead at the third checkpoint only to lose 0.54 seconds in the bottom section.

With gusts buffeting the skiers — it was so windy that organizers removed the banner above the finishing line — Vlhova’s power helped her negate a 0.19 deficit to Rebensburg after the first run. She also overcame crashing into a gate in between the second and third checkpoints, which saw her briefly lose control.

“Finally,” she said, “I can show to everyone who is Vlhova.”

Plenty already know her.

Vlhova is the only racer to beat Shiffrin in slalom this season and she also won two giant slaloms recently — tying with Shiffrin in the final GS before the worlds.

Shiffrin acknowledged that she struggled to get a “response from the surface” after rain for the past two days in the central Swedish resort of Are. It meant she ended up happy to come away with third place for her sixth world championship medal — just two off the American record held by Lindsey Vonn.

“I thought after 1st run, ‘If I can walk away from today with a medal after first run, that’s great!’” Shiffrin said in a tweet posted by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team. “Bronze feels awesome!”

The slalom is on Saturday, where Shiffrin is an even bigger favorite.

Amid historic season, Shiffrin hardly thinks of herself as ‘face of ski racing’

Mikaela Shiffrin
AP
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ARE, Sweden — Mikaela Shiffrin may someday be the most successful Alpine skier in history. But until then, she has been shooting admiring glances at another young female athlete excelling at her chosen sport.

And that athletes, too, is emerging from the shadow of an all-time great.

“Somebody I’ve been watching lately, and I’m really excited for, is Naomi Osaka,” Shiffrin said. “I think that she at least seems like a really nice, down-to-earth girl, trying to do her job and coming up the ranks in a sport that has Serena Williams, the face of tennis.

“Watching Osaka and seeing how she handles herself competing against one of her biggest idols has been pretty cool for me to see.”

While Osaka, the winner of the last two Grand Slam tennis tournaments and — at only 21 — the new No. 1 player in the world, is just starting on the long road to emulating Williams, Shiffrin is already close to eclipsing Lindsey Vonn’s record-breaking exploits.

Watch her ski the giant slalom, Thursday at 8 am on NBCSN and the slalom, Saturday at 5 am on NBCSN.

Fifty-six World Cup victories. Two Olympic gold medals. Four world championship golds, with possibly two more coming in Are, Sweden, this week. Shiffrin is on course to obliterate perhaps every skiing record in the book.

At 23, and with Vonn newly retired, Shiffrin is the face of skiing — whether she likes it or not.

“In my own head, I’m thinking about what I’m going to have for lunch. I’m not thinking, ‘Oh, the face of ski racing,’” she said, laughing.

In Vonn’s farewell news conference after concluding her show-stopping career with a bronze in the downhill on Sunday, she included Shiffrin when listing the ski racers she believes need to step up and promote the sport in the coming years.

“It’s not just about success,” Vonn said. “It’s about doing everything you can to promote (skiing). That’s a part of your job as an athlete.”

Shiffrin is belatedly coming around to that train of thought, even though she says being a poster girl doesn’t come naturally to her.

“I wouldn’t say I’m the most self-confident person out there but I feel comfortable in my own skin and I certainly feel comfortable on my skis,” said the American, who described herself as “naturally a fairly introverted personality.”

“I would like to believe that just being a really kind person and a good athlete and having success is enough to promote the sport, but it’s not really. There needs to be some drama, some excitement, some really big personalities. For me, maybe I’m growing into that.”

This enhanced self-belief perhaps explains why Shiffrin felt emboldened to race only three events at the world championships, despite external pressure to go for gold in every discipline. She has already won the super-G and has strong gold-medal chances in the giant slalom and slalom on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.

Her decision to skip last week’s Alpine combined, in which she would have been the favorite, surprised Vonn and Bode Miller. Indeed, Vonn said she didn’t understand it, saying Shiffrin had “100 percent the capability” of getting a medal in all five disciplines.

Back in Are after spending some days training across the border in Norway, Shiffrin expanded on a long and heartfelt Instagram post she posted in response to Vonn and Miller’s comments.

“I wasn’t disappointed. Actually I was really flattered,” she said. “I was incredibly honored that two of the greatest athletes in our sport said that they thought I could win in all events.

“The reason I made this post was because they both also said they thought essentially that I was wrong in making my decision and I have reasons that maybe they didn’t consider in making my decision.”

Shiffrin said she has “paid too much attention to all the expectations of other people” in recent years.

“This year, it’s been one of my goals to see that, to hear it, to understand it, and to let it go,” she said.

It’s an approach that was backed by Scandinavian ski greats Kjetil Andre Aamodt and Anja Paerson.

Aamodt, who won Olympic or worlds medals in all five disciplines during his career, called her decision “smart,” while Paerson, who won five medals — including three golds — on home snow at the 2007 worlds in Are, said: “I love that she’s taking her own way.”

The president of U.S. Ski and Snowboard sees no issue with Shiffrin picking and choosing her events, either.

“I think it’s great,” Tiger Shaw told The Associated Press, “that she’s smart enough to say, ‘You know what, I’m going to focus on the ones I want to win. And yes I can go in every event and I could probably win the downhill, too. But I’m going to race the ones I want to race. I’m me and everybody else can think whatever they think.’”

Certainly, Shiffrin has no regrets this week as she goes for her fifth and sixth world titles.

“I’m a little bit fresher going into these races,” she said. “It almost feels like a second start to the world championships.”

Shiffrin, seeking fourth straight world title, highlights Olympic action this week

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Two-time Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin has already claimed one title at the World Alpine Skiing Championships in Are, Sweden (in the first race of the competition, super-G), but her two best events are still ahead: the 23-year-old is expected to compete for her first world title in giant slalom on Thursday after winning Olympic gold in the event last year. And on Saturday, she will go for a fourth straight slalom title, trying to become the first skier to win four consecutive world titles in the same event.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety is expected to highlight the U.S. men’s field in giant slalom. The second run of that event will air live on NBCSN Friday at 11 a.m. ET.

And a trio of Olympic medalists in freestyle skiing headline the U.S. contingent at the Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding World Cup in Calgary, Alberta: two-time Olympic champion David Wise, Sochi gold medalist Maddie Bowman and 2014 Olympic silver medalist Gus Kenworthy. Coverage of ski halfpipe will air live Saturday on Olympic Channel at 9 p.m.

 

WORLD ALPINE SKIING CHAMPIONSHIPS — Are, Sweden

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Thursday 8:00 a.m. Women’s Giant Slalom (Run 1) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
10:30 a.m. Women’s Giant Slalom (Run 1)* NBCSN
11:30 a.m. Women’s Giant Slalom (Run 2) NBCSN NBCSN/NBC Sports Gold
Friday 8:00 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 1) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
11:00 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 2) NBCSN NBCSN
11:30 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 2) NBC Sports Gold
Saturday 5:00 a.m. Women’s Slalom (Run 1) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
7:00 a.m. Women’s Slalom (Run 1)* NBCSN
8:00 a.m. Women’s Slalom (Run 2) NBCSN NBCSN/NBC Sports Gold
1:00 p.m. Women’s Slalom* NBC
Sunday 5:00 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 1) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
7:00 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 1)* NBCSN
8:00 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 2) NBCSN NBCSN/NBC Sports Gold

*Same-day delay

BIATHLON WORLD CUP — Salt Lake City, Utah (Soldier Hollow)

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Thursday 1:00 p.m. Women’s 7.5km Sprint NBCSN NBCSN/NBC Sports Gold
Friday 1:00 p.m. Men’s 10km Sprint NBCSN NBCSN/NBC Sports Gold
Saturday 12:00 p.m. Women’s Pursuit Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
4:00 p.m. Men’s Pursuit Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Sunday 1:00 a.m. Women’s Pursuit* NBCSN
12:00 p.m. Single Mixed Relay Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
4:00 p.m. 2x6km + 2×7.5km Mixed Relay Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
9:30 p.m. 2x6km + 2×7.5km Mixed Relay* NBCSN

*Next-day and same-day delay

BOBSLED AND SKELETON WORLD CUP — Lake Placid, New York

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Friday 8:30 a.m. Women’s Skeleton (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com
10:00 a.m. Women’s Skeleton (Run 2) NBCSN NBCSN
1:00 p.m. Women’s Bobsled (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com
2:00 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com
3:15 p.m. Women’s Bobsled (Run 2) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
4:15 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled (Run 2) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
9:00 p.m. From Lake Placid, New York* NBCSN
Saturday 9:00 a.m. Men’s Skeleton (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com
10:45 a.m. Men’s Skeleton (Run 2) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
1:30 p.m. Four-Man Bobsled (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com
3:00 p.m. Four-Man Bobsled (Run 2) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
11:30 p.m. From Lake Placid, New York* NBCSN

*Same-day delay

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING WORLD CUP — Cogne, Italy

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 6:30 a.m. Men’s & Women’s Sprint Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Sunday 3:45 a.m. Women’s 10km OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
6:30 a.m. Men’s 15km OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
2:00 p.m. Women’s 10km* Olympic Channel

*Same-day delay

SHOW JUMPING WORLD CUP: NORTH AMERICAN LEAGUE — Wellington, Florida; Valle de Bravo, Mexico

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Monday 12:00 p.m. From Wellington, Florida* NBCSN
Sunday 11:00 a.m. From Valle de Bravo, Mexico* Olympic Channel

*Pre-recorded

U.S. FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 2:30 p.m. Exhibition* NBC

*Pre-recorded

FOUR CONTINENTS FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 4:00 p.m. Ladies’ & Men’s Free Skate* NBC

*Pre-recorded

FREESTYLE SKIING AND FREESKI WORLD CUP — Feldberg, Germany; Moscow, Russia; Calgary, Alberta

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 3:45 a.m. Ski Cross OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
11:30 a.m. Aerials OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
8:00 p.m. Aerials* Olympic Channel
9:00 p.m. Halfpipe Olympic Channel OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
Sunday 5:30 a.m. Ski Cross OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold

*Same-day delay

SKI JUMPING WORLD CUP — Willingen, Germany; Oberstdorf, Germany

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Friday 9:45 a.m. Men’s Team OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
6:30 p.m. Men’s Team* Olympic Channel
Saturday 7:00 a.m. Women’s Individual OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
10:00 a.m. Men’s Individual OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
5:00 p.m. Women’s Individual* Olympic Channel
6:30 p.m. Men’s Individual* Olympic Channel
Sunday 7:00 a.m. Women’s Individual OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
9:15 a.m. Men’s Individual OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
5:30 p.m. Women’s Individual* Olympic Channel
7:00 p.m. Men’s Individual* Olympic Channel

*Same-day delay

WORLD SINGLE DISTANCE SPEED SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS — Inzell, Germany

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Monday 10:30 p.m. Day 3* NBCSN
11:30 p.m. Day 4* NBCSN

*Pre-recorded

WORLD INDOOR TRACK & FIELD TOUR — Birmingham, England

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 8:30 a.m. Indoor Track & Field NBC Sports Gold
Midnight Indoor Track & Field NBCSN