Shiffrin Skis with Momentum and Inspiration
Heading into an extremely busy month which will culminate with the naming of Team USA, Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, Colo.) is finding not only momentum in her skiing, but also inspiration from the performances of her cross country and ski jumping teammates. And it’s the female athletes who have been in headlines as we roll into 2018.
With podiums by cross country skiers Sophie Caldwell, Sadie Bjornsen and Jessie Diggins in the Tour de Ski and a win by Sarah Hendrickson in the recent U.S. Olympic Ski Jumping Trials, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team women have been fast and furious in the last two weeks. Add to that six podiums by Shiffrin since December 20 – five of those being victories – and the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team has some serious momentum heading into the new year and the upcoming Olympic Games in PyeongChang.
As she heads into a big tech series with FIS Ski World Cups in Zagreb, Croatia, Kranjska Gora, Slovenia and Flachau, Austria, Shiffrin admits she’s thriving off that momentum and feeding off the success of her #oneteam teammates.
“It’s always really exciting to see teammates from the other sports having success and you see it everywhere – you see it on Instagram and we get the weekly newsletter from U.S. Ski & Snowboard – just seeing how much excitement there is across all the sports,” noted Shiffrin.
“I can get isolated in my own little bubble with ski racing and it’s really fun – especially with the Olympics – to branch out a little bit and look at the other sports and think, ‘Oh yeah, these girls I see at the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Center of Excellence training in the summer all of the time are crushing it,” Shiffrin reflected. “Knowing a lot of them on a more personal basis, it’s just really exciting to see them have success and it makes me feel a little more inspired to keep working towards mine.”
Shiffrin goes into the weekend with a healthy 471-point lead in the overall World Cup hunt ahead of Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg and a 135-point lead in the slalom standings over Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova. She will be looking to stand atop the podium at Zagreb and once again be crowned “VIP Snow Queen” as she was in 2013 and 2015 at this venue. In fact, in her last 23 starts in a World Cup slalom, Shiffrin finished on the podium 22 times, including 18 wins, two second-place, and two third-place finishes. The only exception in this run was the Zagreb race a year ago, when she straddled and recorded a DNF in the first run.
“I’m really excited to race tomorrow and just keep this mentality going,” Shiffrin said after Tuesday’s bib draw at the Ice Park in Zagreb’s city center’s King Tomislav Square. It’s good to be back in Zagreb. Last year I had a bit of a heartbreaking race here with the straddle and I’m really looking forward to skiing aggressive on the hill this year, and hopefully continue that all the way down.”
Joining Shiffrin in Wednesday’s slalom will be veteran Resi Stiegler (Jackson, Wyo.), who finished a season-best seventh last year at this venue, as well as Nina O’Brien (Edwards, Colo.) and Megan McJames (Park City, Utah).
On Thursday, all eyes will turn to the men who will also battle for the VIP Snow Queen Trophy. Veteran David Chodounsky (Crested Butte, Colo.) will headline six American men as he looks to find his way back into the top 10 in an incredibly deep and talented men’s slalom field.
The women will then travel to Kranjska Gora, Slovenia for a tech weekend originally scheduled for Maribor, Slovenia, but canceled due to lack of snow and warm temperatures. The men will head to the classically iconic Adelboden, Switzerland venue for giant slalom and slalom, as Ted Ligety (Park City, Utah) looks to build on his “Mr. GS” momentum, steadily climbing back up to the top. Not only has Ligety won here in giant slalom (2013), but he also landed on the slalom podium with second in 2006. Keep an eye out for Ligety, as we may see him throwing on the disco sticks once again and jumping into the slalom start gate on Sunday.
Nolan Kasper (Warren, VT) has been sidelined with injury the last two seasons and will be returning once again to World Cup competition in Adelboden. His last World Cup start was Schladming, Austria on January 27, 2015. Keep an eye on Kasper, as he has one career podium from 2011 and has worked extremely hard to come back from injuries.
Steve Schlanger and U.S. Ski Team alumnus Steve Porino will call the action in the coming week. See who to watch and where to catch all the action below.
Zagreb, CRO – Slalom
Zagreb, CRO – Slalom
NOTE: Final starters for Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, and Adelboden, Switzerland have yet to be solidified. Stay tuned to our social channels for updated information.
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
7:00 a.m. – Women’s slalom, run 1; Zagreb – olympicchannel.com
10:00 a.m. – Women’s slalom, run 2; Zagreb – Olympic Channel TV
6:45 a.m. – Men’s slalom, run 1; Zagreb – olympicchannel.com
10:00 a.m. – Men’s slalom, run 2; Zagreb – Olympic Channel TV
3:30 a.m. – Women’s giant slalom, run 1; Kranjska Gora – olympicchannel.com
4:30 a.m. – Men’s giant slalom, run 1; Adelboden – olympicchannel.com
6:00 a.m. – Women’s giant slalom, run 2; Kranjska Gora – NBCSN
7:30 a.m. – Men’s giant slalom, run 2; Adelboden – olympicchannel.com
10:00 a.m. – Men’s giant slalom, run 2; Adelboden – Olympic Channel TV (same day delay)
3:30 a.m. – Women’s slalom, run 1; Kranjska Gora – olympicchannel.com
4:30 a.m. – Men’s slalom, run 1; Adelboden – olympicchannel.com
6:00 a.m. – Women’s slalom, run 2; Kranjska Gora – NBCSN
7:30 a.m. – Men’s slalom, run 2; Adelboden – olympicchannel.com