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Mikaela Shiffrin runner-up in Lake Louise downhill

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LAKE LOUISE, Alberta (AP) — Here’s a scary thought for her competition: Mikaela Shiffrin is still getting comfortable with the intensity and the speed of the downhill.

That’s why podium finishes are still a little surprising even to her.

The American three-time overall World Cup champion finished runner-up to Nicole Schmidhofer of Austria in a downhill race Saturday. Schmidhofer cruised through the course in 1 minute, 49.92 seconds to edge Shiffrin by 0.13 seconds. Francesca Marsaglia of Italy wound up third.

Schmidhofer has four career World Cup wins, with three of them arriving at Lake Louise.

Known as a tech specialist, Shiffrin is steadily getting up to speed in the speed events. This was Shiffrin’s fourth career World Cup podium finish in the downhill, which includes a Lake Louise win in 2017.

So, does Shiffrin anticipate this kind of downhill success?

“No, no, no,” the 24-year-old from Colorado said. “It’s certainly not normal (for a downhill podium). Even racing downhill doesn’t feel normal. But I feel every year like I have more experience and get more comfortable.”

Shiffrin currently sits at 62 World Cup wins, which ties her with Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Proell for second-most on the women’s side. Lindsey Vonn had 82 wins before her retirement.

“I’m certainly more comfortable with the long skis,” Shiffrin said of downhill racing. “Right now, it’s enjoying it, because speed is a little bit extra for me. My goal is to be able to succeed in speed as well. It’s making the transition and trying to have fun with it.”

Czech Republic skier and snowboarder Ester Ledecka finished fourth Saturday. She was the surprise winner of Friday’s season-opening downhill, which was delayed and shortened by heavy snowfall on the mountain. The race Saturday was restored to its full length.

Next up, a super-G on Sunday.

“It’s always been a little bit tricky for me from downhill skis to super-G skis and to change the timing a little bit,” Shiffrin said. “I’m going to have fun.”

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Ester Ledecka stuns again, wins World Cup downhill from bib No. 26

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Consider 26 a lucky number for Ester Ledecka.

Ledecka, the snowboard champion who stunningly captured the PyeongChang Olympic super-G from bib No. 26, won her first World Cup ski race on Friday — also from bib No. 26.

Ledecka was fastest in a downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta.

She kept Swiss Corinne Suter from her first World Cup win by .35 of a second. Austrian Stephanie Venier was third. Mikaela Shiffrin was 10th in her weakest discipline. Full results are here.

“I am for sure more shocked than everybody here,” Ledecka said. “I was a little bit, not disappointed about the run, but I was not super satisfied. Then I was really surprised about the time.”

Ledecka, an Olympic and world champion in Alpine snowboarding from the Czech Republic, had a previous best Alpine skiing World Cup finish of seventh. The top-ranked racers all go in the top 20 of the start list.

Last season, Ledecka raced more World Cup skiing events than snowboarding events for the first time. She was forced to choose between world championships in skiing and in snowboarding due to schedules and picked the former with a top finish of 15th.

She’s undecided about her upcoming schedule. She could continue on the Alpine skiing tour with a super-G in Switzerland next weekend, or she could fly to Italy for a snowboarding event.

The women race another downhill and a super-G in Lake Louise the next two days. A full TV and live stream schedule for the weekend races is here.

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Mikaela Shiffrin, Ted Ligety eye more success at Lake Louise, Beaver Creek; TV, live stream schedule

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Mikaela Shiffrin returns to the site of her lone World Cup downhill win in Lake Louise, Alberta, this weekend. Ted Ligety is back on his most successful track in Beaver Creek, Colo.

NBCSN, Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and NBC Sports Gold air live coverage of the final World Cup stops in North America this season, Friday through Sunday.

Shiffrin, coming off her 62nd World Cup victory on Sunday (tying for fourth all-time), transitions to the first speed races of the season: two downhills and a super-G in the Canadian Rockies.

Ligety, looking for his first podium of what could be his last Olympic cycle, targets the last of three men’s races in Beaver Creek: Sunday’s giant slalom. The two-time Olympic champion won Beaver Creek World Cup GS races five straight years from 2010-14, plus the 2015 World title there.

Alpine Skiing World Cup broadcast schedule

Day Time (ET) Event Network
Friday 12:30 p.m. Men’s Super-G NBCSN
2:30 p.m. Women’s Downhill Olympic Channel
11 p.m.* Women’s Downhill NBCSN
Saturday 12:55 p.m. Men’s Downhill Olympic Channel
2:30 p.m. Women’s Downhill Olympic Channel
11 p.m.* Men’s Downhill NBCSN
Sunday 11:40 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom Run 1 Olympic Channel
1 p.m. Women’s Super-G Olympic Channel
2:30 p.m. Men’s Giant Slalom Run 2 Olympic Channel
5 p.m.* Men’s Giant Slalom NBC
6 p.m.* Women’s Super-G NBCSN

All NBC, NBCSN and Olympic Channel broadcasts stream for subscribers on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app. All Alpine skiing World Cup runs stream live on NBC Sports Gold for “Snow Pass” subscribers.
*Same-day delayed broadcast

Shiffrin and Ligety should both feel comfortable this weekend.

At Lake Louise in 2017, Shiffrin recorded her first World Cup downhill win in just her fourth start in the discipline. The next year, she grabbed super-G victory No. 1 to become the seventh woman to notch World Cup wins in all five disciplines.

She has proven that speed mastery isn’t necessary to win the World Cup overall title, but it’s certainly contributed to her growing dominance over the rest of the world. Others to watch: Austrian Nicole Schmidhofer, who swept the Lake Louise downhills in 2018. Plus, Olympic downhill champion Sofia Goggia. The Italian missed last year’s Lake Louise stop with a broken ankle.

Then there’s Ligety, who at 35 years old is taking his career season by season. This could be his last time racing World Cup at Beaver Creek, where he’s earned five of his 24 World Cup GS wins.

Ligety was slowed by myriad injuries since his last time on a Beaver Creek podium but proclaimed himself healthy before this season. Then he finished fifth in the first giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 27, his best result since January 2018.

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