Saturday, January 29, 2022

All eyes will be on the unknown mountain Shifrin in the Olympic Alpine. federal news network

After her first Winter Games victory as a teenager in 2014, Mikaela Shifrin “dreamed to win the next Olympics[and]five gold medals”—which not only happened, but was not possible as the American won every four years later. Did not participate in alpine competition.

Now a veteran of 26 years, and well-established as the world’s top all-around ski racer, Shiffrin aims to compete in the Beijing Olympics in slalom, giant slalom, super-G, downhill and combined, as well as perhaps in the starting gate. have to be Even mixed teams parallel, according to her coach.

However, she knows entering everything will be a challenge in itself, let alone claiming the medals she has from the last Olympics to add to the two golds and one silver she has with half a dozen World Championship golds and Total trio of World Cup titles.

“I have to prepare a lot mentally, like understanding how it will affect me mentally and physically for, essentially, the three weeks that we’re there,” said Shifrin, the 2014 Olympic champion in slalom. 2018 champion in giant slalom.

“So it definitely takes a lot of my focus to think: What boxes do we have to completely check out, like skiing and technique and strategy and the physical side of things?” he said. “What boxes do we need to check to make sure I have some comfort level to live in a place I’ve never lived in for three weeks before and am dealing with jet lag and as soon as possible? Can I get over that?”

Shiffrin, who is from Colorado, often talks about what it takes to avoid feeling uncomfortable on race days or even in between.

Much has been wrapped up in that area as she heads into her third Olympics, from back spasms that limited her preparation in November to coping with the COVID-19 she experienced in late December. In her first “Not Finished,” a slalom in the four years leading up to January, she seems easily discussed and dissected for the many stress factors.

“If we’re doing our job, we shouldn’t have to do anything special to make her feel right and make her feel comfortable. Everything that we can control, we’re controlling, and beyond every little thing Whether it’s making sure she’s not walking too many stairs, whether it’s making sure there aren’t too many steps in a day, making sure she’s making a nutritional choice that’s convenient and Go easy or she can eat in her room when the dining room is too crowded. Or just another stress,” said Shifrin’s coach Mike Day. “Seriously, you don’t want to suddenly go to the Olympics and do whatever you want.” You want to change that, don’t you?”

There’s more, which comes with any winter sports, of course, but these will be of particular concern, including a new and overlooked course that no elite racer will try until February 3, men’s Alpine schedule just three days before the start of the Key Downhill.

There is also the ever-present element of COVID-19 and all the unusual arrangements and uncertainties that it brings.

“It’s going to be a mess,” said American racer Travis Ganong, “but we’ll figure it out.”

Other story lines to follow in alpine skiing at the Beijing Olympics:

Wonder!

Typically, trial events are held a year or more in advance on an Olympic hill, giving ski racers a chance to test the site and train and compete on the course. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, they were removed.

So everything will be a little surprising when coaches and athletes first see artificial snow on the slopes of the National Alpine Skiing Center in the Yanqing Zone, about 55 miles northwest of Beijing’s city center.

“Everyone is in the same situation. They have to adapt as quickly as possible,” said Marcus Waldner, race director of the International Ski Federation. “It’s a very challenging hill. It’s demanding.”

Favorite

If the casual fan knows the name of current World Cup overall leader Shiffrin best – thanks to years of success and his prominence in TV commercials for these Olympics – anyone who follows ski racing closely will face two major challenges. Knows about the givers: Petra Vlahova, a 26-year-old from Slovakia, and Sofia Gogia, 29, from Italy. Vlahova is the current World Cup champion and won five of the first six slaloms this season, a race Shifrin dominated; Gogia has won seven consecutive downhills and would be in favor of repeating his Olympic gold in that event.

men to watch

Marco Odermatt, 24, of Switzerland will compete in his first Olympics as a potential star-in-the-making. Winner of five golds at the 2018 Junior World Championships, Odermatt leads the World Cup standings and has had five wins and three runners-up this season. Second 2019-20 champion overall is Alexander Aamodt Kilde, a 29-year-old from Norway who is dating Shifrin and skiing well after returning from a knee injury.

Goodbye, Lindsay and Ligeti

The US ski team is now without three-time Olympic medalist Lindsey Vonn and double gold medalist Ted Ligeti, who join Bode Miller and Julia Mancuso in retirement. However, Shiffrin isn’t the only American worth watching. Breezy Johnson, who turns 26 on January 19 and hails from Wyoming, has finished three second behind Gogia in the downhills this season. Bryce Bennett, 29, of California, took the men’s downhill victory in Val Gardena, Italy, in December. And Ganong, 33, of California, produced a podium finish at a Super-G in Beaver Creek, Colorado. “There’s a lot that can happen in China,” Johnson said. “I just want to set myself up to do the best I can and try to execute on race day.”

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Associated Press Sports Writers Andrew Dampf in Modena, Italy, and Pat Graham in Copper Mountain, Colorado, contributed.

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More Associated Press Winter Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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