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Cochran-Siegle 21st, Ligety DNFs in Adelboden

By Courtney Harkins
January, 6 2018
Ted Ligety
Ted Ligety skis to eighth in the first run, before DNFing second run. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Alexis Boichard)

Ryan Cochran-Siegle (Starksboro, Vt.) muscled out his second points-scoring finish of the season to lead the U.S. Ski Team in 21st in Saturday's FIS Ski World Cup giant slalom in Adelboden.

Ted Ligety (Park City, Utah) looked to be back to form, finishing eighth in the first run, however, he got caught up in the tricky, tight second run set and did not finish.

In front of 20,000 screaming Swiss fans, Marcel Hirscher of Austria took his 51st FIS Ski World Cup win - his sixth victory this season. Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway was second and Frenchman Alexis Pinturault was third with the fastest second run.

After almost two seasons away from the World Cup tour due to injury, Ligety - the two-time Olympic giant slalom champion - has yet to podium. But his eyes are firmly planted on PyeongChang and the U.S. Ski Team coaches say he is steadily building toward February.

Tommy Ford (Bend, Ore.) also made the second run, but skied out partway through the course.

Next up, the men race slalom in Adelboden on Sunday.

Men’s giant slalom

All times EST
Jan. 7
4:30 a.m. – Men’s slalom, run 1; Adelboden –
7:30 a.m. – Men’s slalom, run 2; Adelboden –

Shiffrin Battles For Another World Cup Win

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
January, 6 2018

World Cup victory No. 39 wasn’t an easy one for Mikaela Shiffrin.

Feeling a bit under the weather and racing through light rain on a rough, straight-set course, Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, Colo.) took the first run lead and held on to win her eighth FIS Ski World Cup race this season Saturday in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. Tessa Worley of France was second, and Sofia Goggia of Italy picked up her fourth World Cup podium of the season in third.

“I’ve been a little bit sick the past couple days,” Shiffrin said following her victory. “A lot of the girls have been sick, so I didn’t feel like it was an excuse for today, and I wanted to come out and charge. Luckily it wasn’t a very long GS today, so I just felt like ‘OK, I just need two minutes of energy, and if I can do that, I’ll be fine.’”

With the victory, Shiffrin moved back into the FIS Ski World Cup overall giant slalom standings. Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg held a narrow advantage over Shiffrin in the overall standings heading into Saturday’s race, but she faltered in the challenging conditions, and finished 11th, falling to third in the GS standings. Shiffrin, who has totaled 1,181 World Cup points so far this season, now leads the overall World Cup standings by 647 points over Rebensburg. Shiffrin also leads the overall downhill and slalom World Cup standings.

Starting fourth in the first run, Shiffrin built a 0.86-second lead – the largest first run giant slalom lead of her career – and challenged the rough second run head-on.

“Certainly a little bit bumpier and a little bit wild in the second run,” Shiffrin said. “I was trying to be aggressive, but I also didn’t want to risk everything, so some turns I was really aggressive, and some turns I was like ‘Whoa, stay on the course at least!”’

Saturday’s race was scheduled for Maribor, Slovenia, but was moved to Kranjska Gora due to snow conditions. It was the first time the women have raced in Kranjska Gora since 2012.

Seventeen-year-old AJ Hurt made her third World Cup start, finishing 45th in the first run. Foreste Peterson, who skis for Dartmouth College, also made her second World Cup start, finishing 53rd in the first run.

Up next, the women race slalom Sunday in Kranjska Gora.

Women’s slalom

All times EST
*schedules subject to change

Jan. 7
3:30 a.m. – Women’s slalom, run 1; Kranjska Gora –
6:00 a.m. – Women’s slalom, run 2; Kranjska Gora – NBCSN


Olympic Selection Heats Up

By Tom Kelly
January, 5 2018
Ashley Caldwell
World Champion Ashley Caldwell is looking to claim her third Olympic berth this weekend with a top finish in the World Cup aerials event in downtown Moscow. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom)

Olympic ski and snowboard spots will be on the line this weekend as the close of Olympic selection is just two weeks away. The Games begin in PyeongChang in just 34 days on Feb. 9.
Three skiers earned spots on the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team over New Year's Weekend at the U.S. Olympic Trials for Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined at the Utah Olympic Park.

Bryan Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) earned a spot on his second Olympic Team with a win in nordic combined. Mike Glasder (Cary, Ill.) clinched his first Olympic berth with a ski jumping victory while Sarah Hendrickson (Park City, Utah) claimed a return trip with her women's ski jumping win.
Freestyle World Cups this weekend in Moscow and Calgary could impact Olympic selection for aerials and moguls. Aerialist Ashley Caldwell (Ashburn, Va.) and moguls skier Troy Murphy (Bethel, Maine)  are each looking for their second podium to achieve objective criteria.
In cross country, there are no more selection events to achieve a top-eight finish to lock in a spot. But athletes can still move up into the top 50 in World Cup distance or sprint rankings. Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, Vt.) is expected to make a move in the final two events of the Tour de Ski in Val di Fiemme, Italy. Spots via domestic races are also on the line at the L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships in Anchorage.
Final team selections for all ski and snowboard Olympic teams will be announced by U.S. Ski & Snowboard the week of Jan. 22. The United States Olympic Committee will formally name Team USA in late January. The Olympic Winter Games are set for Feb. 8-25 in PyeongChang, South Korea. U.S. Ski & Snowboard anticipates a total team size of over 100 athletes across all ski and snowboard sports.
All selections to the U.S. Olympic Team are subject to approval by the USOC.
This update as of the noted date and subject to change through selection period. Update includes only those athletes who have achieved the top levels of objective selection criteria, which does not guarantee a spot on the team. Final team announcements will be made the week of Jan. 22, subject to USOC approval.
Alpine (selection period runs through Jan. 22)
Stacey Cook (top 10 downhill) *
Breezy Johnson (top 10 downhill) *
Ted Ligety (top 5 giant slalom) *
Laurenne Ross (top 10 super G) *
Mikaela Shiffrin (top 3 downhill, top 5 super G, top 3 giant slalom, top 3 slalom) ^
Lindsey Vonn (top 3 super G) *
Jackie Wiles (top 5 downhill) *
Cross Country (selection period runs through Jan. 15)
Erik Bjornsen (top 50 World Cup ranking in distance, sprint) *
Sadie Bjornsen (top 8 in designated selection event) ^
Rosie Brennan (top 50 World Cup ranking in distance, sprint) *
Sophie Caldwell (top 8 in designated selection event) ^
Jessie Diggins (top 8 in designated selection event) ^
Simi Hamilton (top 50 World Cup ranking in sprint) *
Andy Newell (top 50 World Cup ranking in sprint) *
Kikkan Randall (top 50 World Cup ranking in sprint, distance) *
Ida Sargent (top 50 World Cup ranking in sprint) *
^ Qualified for U.S. Olympic Team
* Achieved objective qualification criteria as of rankings on Jan. 4 (rankings subject to change through Jan. 15)

Freeski (selection period runs through Jan. 21)
None have met objective criteria yet
Freestyle (selection period runs through Jan. 21)
Jaelin Kauf (2 top 3 moguls) *
* Achieved objective qualification criteria
Nordic Combined (selection period runs through Jan. 22)
Bryan Fletcher (winner Olympic Trials) ^
^ Qualified for U.S. Olympic Team
Ski Jumping (selection period runs through Jan. 21)
Mike Glasder (winner Olympic Trials) ^
Sarah Hendrickson (winner Olympic Trials) ^
^ Qualified for U.S. Olympic Team
Snowboard (qualifying through Jan. 21)
Jamie Anderson (mathematically clinched qualifying series points in slopestyle) ^
Jonathan Cheever (top 3 in designated snowboardcross selection event; leading selection points) *
Chris Corning (mathematically clinched qualifying series points in slopestyle) ^
Faye Gulini (top 3 in designated snowboardcross selection event) ^
Chloe Kim (mathematically clinched qualifying series points in slopestyle) ^
Lindsey Jacobellis (top 3 in designated snowboardcross selection event) ^
^ Qualified for U.S. Olympic Team
* Achieved objective qualification criteria


Patterson, Hanneman Golden in Sprint

By Tom Kelly
January, 5 2018
Women's Sprint Podium
Caitlin Patterson celebrates back-to-back gold at the L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships.

Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury, Vt./Craftsbury Green) carried momentum from her opening day gold to win a second Friday in the women's freestyle sprint. Reese Hanneman repeated his gold from last year in the men's race at the L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships in Anchorage's Kincaid Park.

Patterson took the win over her teammate Kaitlynn Miller (Craftsbury Common, Vt./Craftsbury Green) with Hannah Halvorsen (Truckee, Calif./APU Nordic) picking up her first U.S. Championships medal with bronze.

Hanneman (Fairbanks, Alaska/APU Nordic) repeated as gold medalist outdistancing Kevin Bolger (Minocqua, Wis./Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation) and Tyler Kornfield (Anchorage/APU Nordic).

“I used the first few heats to figure out how this course was skiing,” said Patterson, an Alaskan native and former member of the Alaska Winter Stars. “It’s fun to ski on a new course where none of know the tactics.”

Patterson learned the course quickly, using the downhills in each heat to build an advantage. In the finals, she started back in the pack and move up throughout the championship heat, skating ahead on the final climb to take the win.

“I was a little bit surprised with the win,” she said of her first U.S. title in the event. “With sprint you have less control because there’s so much stuff that happens out there. I took each heat as it came.”

In the men’s race, things were tighter in the finals heat. After climbing the small final hill and taking a tight corner into the stadium’s finish area, Reese Hanneman pulled away from Bolger as they raced to the line, winning by less than a tenth of a second.

“On that last corner, all six of us were close,” said Bolger. “Reese picked a really great line and I tucked in behind him. It came down to the last few meters and he just skied really well.”

For the gold medalist Hanneman, it was a special win coming at home.
“It's a dream to be able to win a national championship at home in front of all these people who I know and who have supported me and came out to cheer,” said Hanneman, who won his third U.S. sprint title. “And the Hannemans are three in a row, so that’s kinda cool to be able to continue that.”
It was a practically perfect day for sprint racing at Kincaid Park – temperatures in the teens; no wind, a rarity here; mostly sunny and bluebird skies, with an occasional ice fog appearance; and a fast-and-firm, technical-and-fast trail.
“It was awesome skiing, beautiful conditions,” Reese Hanneman said. “Everybody dreams about skiing on the snow out there today.”

The qualification rounds, which will be considered as a part of Olympic selection, were won by Logan Hanneman (Fairbanks, Alaska/APU Nordic), brother of race winner Reese, and Anne Hart (Stillwater, Minn./Stratton Mountain School) - both of whom missed the finals.

It was another good day for U23 and junior athletes, led by Halvorsen’s bronze.

“Hannah raced with experience above her age,” said Coach Bryan Fish. Halvorsen was a part of the medal-winning women’s relay team at Junior Worlds last year in Soldier Hollow. “It appeared she was changing her race tactics in the heats trying to find the best way for her to win - racing with confidence and dong the small things that are preparing her for success at Junior Worlds.

Four junior and six U23 men made it into the top 30, while five junior and six U23 women qualified into the heats (top-30). 

“This bodes very well for us for Junior Worlds in Goms, Switzerland and the U18 Nordic Nation’s Championships in Vuokatti, Finland later this month,” said Fish. Those teams will be named following this week’s Championships.
Leading the junior results was Hannah Halvorsen’s overall U.S. National Championship 3rd place performance.  Hannah raced with experience above her age.  It appeared she  was changing her race tactics in the heats trying to find the best way for her to win.  She is racing with confidence and doing the small things that are preparing her for success at Jr Worlds.   

Zak Ketterson (Bloomington, Minn./Loppet Nordic Racing) was the top U23 man in fourth. Alayna Sonnesyn (Plymouth, Minn./Univ. of Vermont) was the top U23 woman in eighth. Gus Schumacher (Anchorage/Alaska Winter Stars) was top U18 junior man in eighth.

Action continues in Anchorage Sunday with men's 30k classic mass start and women's 20k. All events are being streamed live on the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team Facebook channel, with Sunday's races scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. EST.

Men's Freestyle Sprint 
Women's Freestyle Sprint 



Engel Matches Career Best In Zagreb

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
January, 4 2018
Mark Engel finished 24th in Thursday’s FIS Ski World Cup slalom in Zagreb, Croatia. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom – Christophe Pallot)

ZAGREB, Croatia (Jan. 4, 2018) – Mark Engel (Truckee, Calif.) matched a career-best FIS Ski World Cup slalom result in 24th on a soft, grooved and punchy course under the lights in the capital of Croatia Thursday night. But most importantly, he maintained a World Cup start position for USA.

Austria’s Marcel Hirscher came from behind in the second run to snatch victory away from his teammate Michael Matt, who finished second. Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen was third.

For Engel, finishing was not only important from a team standpoint, but from a vindication standpoint too. Last year on the same course he finished third in the first run, only to crash spectacularly near the finish of the second run.

“I felt the pressure to finish here today because our team is going to run out of World Cup spots unless we make up some points,” said Engel, who almost repeated last year’s incident near the finish of Thursday’s first run.

“I’m so happy I made it through,” he said after his first run. “I had really tired legs down here and I got a little back seat, but managed to pull it off.”

In the second run, Engel attacked the course. Following the flat middle section, he charged the bottom with a smile on his face. “I’m really happy that my best split was down the last pitch, which has troubled me before,” he added.

Up next, the men head to Adelboden, Switzerland for giant slalom and slalom events Jan. 6-7.

Men’s slalom

All times EST
Jan. 6
3:30 a.m. – Women’s giant slalom, run 1; Kranjska Gora –
4:30 a.m. – Men’s giant slalom, run 1; Adelboden –
6:00 a.m. – Women’s giant slalom, run 2; Kranjska Gora – NBCSN
7:30 a.m. – Men’s giant slalom, run 2; Adelboden –
10:00 a.m. – Men’s giant slalom, run 2; Adelboden – Olympic Channel TV (Same day coverage)

Jan. 7
3:30 a.m. – Women’s slalom, run 1; Kranjska Gora –
4:30 a.m. – Men’s slalom, run 1; Adelboden –
6:00 a.m. – Women’s slalom, run 2; Kranjska Gora – NBCSN
7:30 a.m. – Men’s slalom, run 2; Adelboden –

Freestyle Skiers Carry Momentum into 2018

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
January, 4 2018
Olympian Brad Wilson competes at the Canada Olympic Park in 2017. (FIS)

MOSCOW (Jan. 4, 2018) – The FIS Freestyle World Cup tour opens 2018 with stops in Moscow for aerials and Calgary, Alberta for moguls. Both competitions are scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 6. The U.S. Ski Team will have a total of 22 athletes competing in the third weekend of selection events for the 2018 Olympic games.

Aerials athletes will take to a scaffolding set up just outside of Moscow’s city center for a competition under the lights. U.S. athletes have historically jumped well on the Moscow site; Mac Bohonnon (Madison, Conn.), Jon Lillis (Rochester, N.Y.) and Madison Olsen (Park City, Utah) all podiumed there in 2016. Ashley Caldwell (Ashburn. Va.) and Kiley McKinnon (Madison, Conn.) currently have one of two podiums needed to meet objective criteria to make the Olympic team, so they will also be in the hunt for more top finishes.

Jaelin Kauf (Alta, Wyo.) and Troy Murphy (Bethel, Maine) led the charge for the U.S mogul squad at the last World Cup in Thaiwoo, China. Kauf achieved objective criteria to make the Olympic team with a win and a second place finish. Murphy earned his one of two podiums needed with a third place finish, the first podium of his career. The U.S. women’s team has consistently put four or more athletes into finals and will look to continue that trend on the mogul course at Canada’s Olympic Park.

Read on to see who to watch and where to watch all the freestyle action this weekend.

Men’s Starters

Mac Bohonnon
Alex Bowen
Jon Lillis
Eric Loughran
Nik Seemann
Zach Surdell

Women’s Starters
Ashley Caldwell
Kiley McKinnon
Morgan Northrop
Madison Olsen

Men’s Starters

Casey Andringa
Troy Murphy
Emerson Smith
Dylan Walczyk
Brad Wilson

Women’s Starters
Nessa Dziemian
Olivia Giaccio
Tess Johnson
Jaelin Kauf
Mikaela Matthews
Keaton McCargo
Morgan Schild

All times EST
Jan. 6
12:00 p.m. – Men’s and women’s aerials; Moscow – Olympic Channel TV
3:30 p.m. – Men’s and women’s moguls; Calgary – Olympic Channel TV

Crashes Mar Tour de Ski Stage 5

By Tom Kelly
January, 4 2018
women's Tour de Ski start
Skiers take the start of the women’s stage five in the 10k freestyle in Oberstdorf, Germany Thursday. (Getty Images/AFP – Christof Stache)

Crashes took their toll during stage five of the Tour de Ski in Oberstdorf Thursday, a day after mother nature threw her wrath over the region with a massive lightning storm that canceled the classic sprint. In the women’s 10k freestyle mass start, Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) and Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) both skied at the head of the pack early in the race before each of them lost ground in crashes. 

Norway's Ingvild Flugstad Østberg extended her Tour de Ski lead. Norway's Imil Iversen won the men's 15k with Tour leader Dario Cologna of Switzerland fourth.

Diggins saw her hopes for a podium finish dashed in the final 200 meters, crashing into the sideboards and finishing 24th. Bjornsen was 26th with Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, Vt.) 28th in the women’s 10k freestyle mass start. Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) led the men in 32nd.

Despite being well back in the stage, both Diggins and Bjornsen remained in strong position for top Tour finishes. Diggins is third and Bjornsen seventh in the Tour de Ski overall rankings heading into the final two stages in Val di Fiemme, Italy this weekend.

Wednesday’s severe weather wreaked havoc with the course, felling trees and blowing course bannering away forcing organizers to make changes to the planned course for the mass start events. The new course was essentially the women's sprint course plus an additional 800 meters. It featured very little vertical, which kept virtually the entire field packed together from start to finish and allowed very little opportunity for passing.

Diggins and Bjornsen skied at the front of the lead pack most of the first half of the race, taking turns in the race lead, before Bjornsen fell on the uphill into a sprint prime on the third lap, dropping back just past the midway mark. Diggins remained in the hunt and was in good striking position coming into the finish before she crashed into the sideboards less than 175 meters from the line, dropping from a top position back to 24th in the blink of an eye, losing around 15 seconds. 

“I got into great position to sprint for the bonus seconds,” said Diggins. “Unfortunately, I hit ice and crashed hard into the boards, spinning around and losing quite a bit of time and places. But that happens sometimes in racing and I shook it off already!” 

Diggins showed little frustration and kept her focus looking forward. “Fortunately I had great skis and did the best I could today,” she said. “I have a lot of energy left to fight as hard as I can in these last two stages.”

“Another interesting day in Oberstdorf,” said Bjornsen. ”With the salted course, it kept people pretty tight together and was a challenging day to get an edge into the snow. The highlight of the day was controlling lap two alongside Jessie.”

That highlight was dashed a lap later for Bjornsen with her crash. “In the four seconds on the ground, I managed to get passed by 20 people, and then struggled to fight my way back up,” she said. I was pretty bummed, but then again, it’s tour skiing. You can’t think about a race more than 10 minutes after it’s over or you waste energy for the next.” 

The Tour now heads to Italy for a pair of races that will decide the Tour de Ski. Saturday it’s back to mass starts, this time classic technique. Then Sunday is the final freestyle pursuit featuring the 9k climb up Alpe Cermis.

Diggins is poised for a potential podium finish while Bjornsen is fighting for a top 10. All eyes will also be on Stephen who is a master on the Alpe de Cermis climb.

Men’s 15k Freestyle Mass Start 
Women’s 10k Freestyle Mass Start

Men’s Tour de Ski Rankings 
Women’s Tour de Ski Rankings 

Pattersons Sweep Gold in Anchorage

By Tom Kelly
January, 3 2018
Scott and Caitlin Patterson
Brother and sister Scott and Caitlin Patterson double up on gold to open L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships. (Josh Niva)

It was a day for the Patterson family as the L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships opened in Anchorage. Golds went to the brother-sister duo with Scott Patterson (Anchorage/APU Nordic) and Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury Common/Craftsbury Nordic). Nearly 400 athletes are participating.

SuperTour leader Caitlin Patterson Championships Wednesday with an important victory in her quest for a spot on the Olympic team. Patterson won the women’s 10k freestyle in near blizzard conditions in Anchorage’s Kincaid Park. Patterson took gold with a 19.7-second margin over Caitlin Gregg (Minneapolis/Team Gregg). Chelsea Holmes (Anchorage/APU Nordic) was third.

In the men’s 15k, Scott Patterson took a 55-second win over Noah Hoffman (Aspen, Colo./Ski & Snowboard Club Vail) with Matt Liebsch (Orono, Minn.) third.

“I was a little nervous going into today having not raced domestically yet this season and also with a lot on the line today,” said Scott Patterson. “I had to keep reminding myself that although I wasn't racing as I wanted to be on the World Cup, I was still in good shape and nationals in Anchorage gave me quite an advantage with it being my home course.”

Scott also admitted there was some extra family incentive after his sister, Caitlin, won the women’s 10k an hour earlier.

“My race strategy was to make it through those tricky conditions with energy and build time throughout the rest of the flatter rolling terrain,” he said. “This paid off from the beginning as I was able to build an early lead and keep increasing it throughout the race.”

The win was important to him for Olympic selection, which is based on SuperTour events with U.S. Championships being weighted more heavily. “Today was quite important,” he said. “After today, I think Noah Hoffman and I are in the driver’s seats. Although we were not racing as we wanted to be on the World Cup, today showed that we are still in good form. A lot is going to come down to Sunday's distance race.” 

The women’s race was more tightly contested. Caitlin Patterson, Gregg and Holmes were all within seconds of each other for nearly the entire race before Patterson surged on the last lap.

“This is definitely a good mark in my book,” said Caitlin Patterson. “I don’t know how many women they will take from these races but I’m hoping one or two will be selected. This along with my win in Silver Star will be good for me but we still have another distance race.”

Patterson came in as SuperTour leader with three podiums including the Silver Star victory. She was second to Gregg by less than a second after the first lap of the individual start race before moving out in front.

“It was a really interesting weather day with the new snow on top of the manmade,” said Patterson. “The hills were really choppy but I tried to keep working through them. I had a really strong finish and happy with the win today.”

“I felt great out there and had an awesome race,” said Gregg. “I felt solid. Caitlin Patterson just had that extra oomph at the finish. But overall I’m very happy.”

Gregg, too, found the conditions fascinating. “Conditions were crazy,” she said. “Part of it was not really knowing. I saw the forecast and thought it might get colder but the track stayed stable just below freezing - a lot like when I won my medal in Falun (in 2015).”

For Holmes, it was a homecoming after spending the first period of the World Cup in Europe. “Today it was fun out there, to be at home and make some laps,” she said. “One hill got really soft but the course held up really well with the manmade snow. It was great conditions. Coming back from Europe back home has been fun.”

In the men’s race, juniors had some impressive finishes including Gus Schumacher (Anchorage/Alaska Stars) in sixth and Ben Ogden (Landgrove, Vt./Stratton Mountain School) in ninth. Hailey Swirbul (Carbondale, Colo./Univ. Alaska Anchorage) led the junior women in eighth. They are vying for spots on the Junior Worlds team that will compete later this month in Goms, Switzerland.

Action continues with freestyle sprints on Friday with classic distance racing set on Sunday. All events are being streamed live by U.S. Ski & Snowboard on its Facebook channel.

Men's 15k Freestyle 
Women's 10k Freestyle 

Sarah Hendrickson's Tears of Time

By Tom Kelly
January, 3 2018
Sarah Hendrickson Olympic Trials
Sarah Hendrickson screams with joy after winning the U.S. Olympic Trials, securing her spot in the 2018 Winter Olympics. (Getty Images)

Sarah Hendrickson stood at the top of the 134-meter ski jump at Holmenkollen, the city of Oslo in the distance. Japan’s Sara Takanashi had just flown 133.5 meters to take the lead. Only Hendrickson, the first jump leader, remained. She took a deep breath and pushed off the bar. Soon, she was in flight - floating down the hill before touching down in a perfect telemark landing. She pumped her fist into the air, a big smile crossing face as her teammates and friends Lindsey, Jessica, Allisa and Abby came running to greet her.

It was a joyous day - March 17, 2013. This past Sunday, New Year's Eve, that same smile came back to Sarah Hendrickson’s face, this time mixed with tears. The same friends and teammates who cheered her at Holmenkollen, were there at the Utah Olympic Park to share those tears and cheer her to win once again. More than a group of friends, these girls were pioneers who had helped shepherd their sport to its Olympic debut in Sochi.

It took 1,750 days for Sarah to find that feeling again - to simply smile about the sport she loved so much. To pump her fist into the air. To put her head in her hands and cry. To triumphantly hold her skis above her head to celebrate a victory.

Sarah Hendrickson Olympic Trials

Sarah Hendrickson was a winner once again. This time there was no discretionary choice to make the Olympic Team. She earned it in a hotly contested Olympic Trials that featured five women who all had a pretty equal shot at the win. She would be an Olympian again.

“My goal was to have fun and smile today,” said an emotional Hendrickson. “When I got up today, that was what I set my mind on. I love ski jumping and that’s why we’re all out here.”

Over the span of four and a half years, that love was severely tested. Hendrickson’s August 2013 training crash in Germany led to countless surgeries, each one seemingly leading to another. It resulted in three separate comebacks to the sport, each filled with optimism. Each resulting in dashed hopes. Each followed by periods of perseverance that only a world-class athlete can muster.

This time it was different.

Atop the 98 meter hill at the Utah Olympic Park, her mind raced back to that time as a 5 year old when she walked up to watch the Olympic ski jumping competition, later convincing her parents she should be able to jump like her older brother Nick.

All Sarah ever wanted to do was to fly.

She thought for a moment about her objective of the day - to just have fun and enjoy the moment. This was a chance she might not have again - to put on a show for the 7,000 hometown fans in the stadium. She didn’t think about the aches and pains or things she might have done differently. She put the fear of pain out of her mind. When you show up on competition day, you have to leave that behind.

Amidst the thousands of tense fans was her mother Nancy and her father Bill. There were friends and fans from Park City whose hearts had been aching with hers over the last four years as she pursued her relentless series of comebacks.

When she nailed her landing on that final jump the crowd breathed a collective sigh of relief. For Sarah, the world stood still. She sought a moment of solitude in the finish amidst the deafening cheers, holding her head in her hands as tears poured out of her eyes. She looked to the sky, thrusting her skis upward to the heavens. This was what she loved. This was what she had so sorely missed.

“It’s pretty emotional because the last four years have been so tough,” she said. “This gives me confidence that hard work pays off. If you keep working towards your dream you’ll get there. That is something that will stick with me for the rest of my life. It’s a really good lesson to hold with you.”

Sarah Hendrickson is going to PyeongChang.

Shiffrin Cruises To 38th World Cup Win

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
January, 3 2018

ZAGREB, Croatia (Jan. 3, 2018) – Mikaela Shiffrin once again proved she is not only the best skier in the world, but arguably the best athlete in the world with the 2018 Olympic Winter Games just five weeks away.

With another dominating display of speed and skill, Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, Colo.) rolled to her 38th career FIS Ski World Cup victory in Wednesday’s slalom in Zagreb, Croatia.  It was her eighth World Cup victory this season, and she extended her overall World Cup lead to 571 points over Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg, who did not compete Wednesday. Shiffrin also leads the overall World Cup slalom and downhill standings.

“I’m really excited to race, race, race, race!” said Shiffrin who has won three of the last four World Cup races in the past eight days. “It’s a tough period for the tech girls, but it’s cool to be part way through it now and feel like I have good momentum and just try to keep it going through the rest of the season.”

Shiffrin cruised to a 1.41-second first run lead and extended it to a 1.59-second margin of victory over Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener, who finished second, and Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter in third. Fellow American Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, Wyo.) was 14th.

With Wednesday’s victory, Shiffrin was crowned the Snow Queen for the third time in her career as she also won the crown in 2015 and 2013.

Up next, the women head to Kranjska Gora, Slovenia for giant slalom and slalom events Jan. 6-7, then to Flachau, Austria for a night slalom on Jan. 9. The men race the Zagreb night slalom Thursday.

Women’s slalom

All times EST 
Jan. 4
6:45 a.m. – Men’s slalom, run 1; Zagreb –
10:00 a.m. – Men’s slalom, run 2; Zagreb – Olympic Channel TV

Jan. 6
3:30 a.m. – Women’s giant slalom, run 1; Kranjska Gora –
4:30 a.m. – Men’s giant slalom, run 1; Adelboden –
6:00 a.m. – Women’s giant slalom, run 2; Kranjska Gora – NBCSN
7:30 a.m. – Men’s giant slalom, run 2; Adelboden –
10:00 a.m. – Men’s giant slalom, run 2; Adelboden – Olympic Channel TV (same day delay)

Jan. 7
3:30 a.m. – Women’s slalom, run 1; Kranjska Gora –
4:30 a.m. – Men’s slalom, run 1; Adelboden –
6:00 a.m. – Women’s slalom, run 2; Kranjska Gora – NBCSN
7:30 a.m. – Men’s slalom, run 2; Adelboden –