Mikaela Shifrrin

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World Cup Alpine season opener gets green light

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After checking the snow on the Rettenbach glacier in Soelden, Austria, FIS officials announced Thursday that the traditional World Cup season opener is set to go ahead as planned Oct. 26-27 with men’s and women’s giant slalom races.

Current conditions at Soelden show a solid 30 inches of snow at the summit. The race finishes at an altitude of 2,670 meters (8,760 feet), far above the currently snowless village.

The first races of the season are never guaranteed to have enough snow, though last year’s men’s race at Soelden had the opposite problem, being canceled when a storm blew through with heavy snowfall and high winds. 

France’s Tessa Worley won the women’s race last year ahead of Italy’s Frederica Brignone and U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who would go on to dominate the rest of the World Cup season.

The Soelden weekend is followed by three dormant weeks until the season resumes Nov. 23-24 in Levi, Finland. The World Cup circuits then switch to North America. The men will run speed events Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Lake Louise, Alberta, then head to Beaver Creek, Colo., for more speed events and a giant slalom Dec. 6-8. The women run slalom and giant slalom Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Killington, Vt., and head to Lake Louise the next weekend.

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Austria’s Schmidhofer wins Super-G with U.S.’ Shiffrin taking World Cup break

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Three-time World Cup Super-G winner this season, Mikaela Shiffrin took the week off to recharge and train while the rest of her fellow competitors headed to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, leaving the door open for a new face to grace the top of the Super-G podium. 

“It will be the first time this season that I’ve had a chance to really take a break,” Shiffrin said after winning the Super-G last week in Cortina d’Ampezzo. “My team as well. My coaches have been going non-stop since the beginning, so we’re going to take a short break, get back on the skis, get back on the slalom skis, get ready for Maribor and the World Championships.”

Shiffrin has said she does not intend to chase the Super-G title this year, but if she continues skiing the event the way she has all season, it may be her’s whether she meant to win it or not.

The U.S.’ Lindsey Vonn, who is chasing the all-time World Cup win record for a man or woman, was also absent from the startlist in Germany. Vonn made her return to the World Cup a week ago in Cortina. However, coming off a jump in Super-G training last week, Vonn felt a new pain surge in one of her knees, which hampered her for the rest of her comeback weekend. After being examined, Vonn said on Instagram she would be starting physical therapy to help lessen severe nerve pain in her knee and lower leg muscles.

For the women in attendance in GaPa, heavy snowfall ahead of competition made for a softer Super-G course at the start of the event. The speed of the course would pick up as the snow became increasingly compacted after each run. Coming out with the win was Austria’s Nicole Schmidhofer. Schmidhofer, currently the downhill World Cup points leader, crossed the finish line .23 hundredths of a second ahead of Italy’s Sofia Goggia.

Full results are here.

Goggia, one of Vonn’s closest friends on the World Cup, made her return to racing this week after fracturing her right ankle before the opening giant slalom of the season back in October.

The U.S.’ Laurenne Ross posted her best Super-G result of the season in GaPa, finishing the day in 14th.

The men’s World Cup skiers competed in slalom today in Kitzbuehel. France’s Clement Noel held off overall World Cup points leader Marcel Hirscher to win his second slalom in as many weeks. Noel took the top slalom prize last week in Wengen. The back-to-back slalom victories are the first top finishes for the 21-year-old Frenchman. Joining Noel and Hirscher on the podium was France’s Alexis Pinturault

Full results are here

World Cup Alpine racing is set to continue tomorrow for both the men and women. On Sunday, the women will compete in the downhill starting at 5:30 a.m. ET. Watch live on Olympic Channel or stream it on NBC Sports Gold. The women’s downhill will also air on NBCSN on Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. ET.

The men will finish their weekend in Kitzbuehel with the Super-G, starting at 7:30 a.m. ET. Watch the men race live on NBC Sports Gold.

Single-season win record eludes Mikaela Shiffrin in Austria, finishes 5th in giant slalom

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After Mikaela Shiffrin won her single season World Cup record-tying 14th race on December 22 — also her 50th career win on tour — she was asked if records mattered to her.

“It’s not really my motivation to break records,” Shiffrin said. “My big motivation is to ski well.”

After a short break for the Christmas holiday Shiffrin continued her 2018-19 World Cup season by skiing well in Semmering, Austria, however, others skied faster.

Shiffrin led the field by a slim .02 hundredths of a second lead after her first run. Austria’s Stephanie Brunner, skiing in front of her home crowd, initially posed the most-imminent threat to Shiffrin’s record-breaking day, while the FIS point leader in GS heading into the race, Italy’s Frederica Brignone, finished her first run .18 hundredths back in sixth place.

Ultimately, it was Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova who played spoiler to Shiffrin. Vlhova jumped from fourth to first after her second run. Skiing last, Shiffrin was unable to put together a run to bump Vlhova off the top podium spot and finished .66 hundredths behind the winner. Full results are here.

Shiffrin was looking for her 15th win of 2018 in Semmering, which would have made her the winningest skier in a single year on the World Cup.

Tomorrow Shiffrin can break two records with one event. In addition to the single-season win record, Shiffrin has a chance to take the top spot for career World Cup slalom wins. Watch the second run of women’s slalom tomorrow morning at 7:30 AM ET, streaming live on NBC Sports Gold.

In men’s World Cup downhill racing, Italy’s Dominik Paris won for the third time in his career on home snow in Bormio. Full results are here.

Paris’s first downhill win at Bormio was a tie in 2012 with Austria’s Hannes Reichelt. His second came in 2017, when Paris was able to hold off two of Norway’s “Attacking Vikings,” Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud, for the win.

U.S. skier Travis Ganong was back in Bormio on Friday, nearly a year after he tore a ligament in his knee on the same mountain in a brutal crash that resulted in him missing the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. A day before the race in training, Ganong’s struggles on the Italian slopes continued. Ganong went down again, this time avoiding injury, but after further discussions with his coaches, he withdrew from Friday’s race.

The World Cup event at Bormio wraps up for the men on Saturday with Super G. Watch live on the Olympic Channel at 5:30 AM ET or stream it on NBC Sports Gold.

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MORE: How to watch Mikaela Shiffrin ski for history this weekend