McKee's McThoughts: What's not to like about Shiffrin?
by Hank McKee
There are many things to like about Mikaela Shiffrin, America's 17 year old World Cup winner. She's young and fast, what's not to like? But here's a couple of things she has said recently that make this old ski writer's heart sing.
She didn't feel “pressure” when sitting second after the first run at Are, Sweden. She felt “Like I was being pushed down the hill.”
On the Are course she felt, she said, “at home.”
But those have to do with racing. There are a couple more things that underscore her as a human being. After taking two Nor Am races by huge margins back in early December, she posted a pic of her rolling up “B-net,” and said it was good “to get the hands dirty.” Here's the photo.
And after Are, with all the hulabaloo that accompanies winning a World Cup race, she posts about how nice it was to meet Emma... and get a smile from her. Because, we need to remember, a smile from a young Leukemia patient weighs much, much heavier on the grand scale of life then winning a race, even a World Cup.
Here's what she had to say: “Tonight I met a young Swedish girl Emma Lundell. She has leukemia. She is beautiful. I told her a story about my friend who had cancer- he is healthy and thriving now. I was told I skied like Marcel Hirscher tonight and I said that comment was the best Christmas present I could have, but it was not, the best Christmas present I could ever get was to see Emma smile. Thank you.”
Shiffrin is now leading the slalom standings. That's just great. And she is educating us about what's important, and that's even better.
Speaking of slalom standings leaders, Marlies Schild, arguably the best slalom racer that ever lived, has undergone season ending knee surgery. That's not great at all.
Did everybody see the remarkable fore and aft recovery by Liam Mulhern? Never say never. If you missed it, check it out here
How about catching up on some domestic action, because there's been quite a bit. In the Eric Hayes Memorials Jaime DuPratt won a pair of GS races, Isabella Wright and Jessica Kelley collected slalom wins. Matthew Stencel and River Radamus got the men's GS wins with Dominic Demschar and Coley Oliver winning slaloms.
In Eastern Cups the college kids went to the Maine races while the Vermont academies focused at Sugarbush. At Sunday River Andrew McNealus and Hunter Black took slalom wins while Charles Raposo and Trevor Harnsberger got the slalom wins at Sugarbush. McNealus added a GS win at Sunday River. Up at “The Loaf,” Maisie Ide took back to back slaloms, followed both days by Dartmouth teammate Sara Kikut.
Well done you guys.
And how amazing has Jared Goldberg been this December? More than you might know. He got his first slalom podium on six runs of pre-season training, and won both the Nor Am super G and combined with 18 fresh stitches in his leg. Read his blog for details: Jaredgoldbergskier
Interesting side notes to the RockFest event in Italy. There were no equipment regulations to deal with, so the question was what skis were the guys going to choose?
Head skiers Ted Ligety, Aksel Lund Svindal and Marcel Mathis all chose skis which had been designed to meet the new regulations but were banned two weeks ahead of the World Cup opener in Soelden.
Race winner Davide Simoncelli used last season's 27-meter radius ski because, he said, “I go faster and faster with every turn.”
Warner Nickerson ground the hell out of a pair his skis by the binding in an effort to alter the radius.
Cyprien Richard and Olsson used this seasons skis without alteration.
Anyone else notice it's not just Kikkan Randall doing the damage on the cross country front? That's a team we got.
It's good to keep in perspective just how tough it is out there. Swiss skier Lara Gut posted a blog that put her December into a little sharper focus. Here's the lead-in: “A victory, many miles in the car, three different beds in three countries in three nights. ... Sometimes I wonder how my body keeps up with all these crazy moves and on Sunday it gave me the answer, I could not take it anymore, finished.”
Here's the whole thing, and it's worth the read.
Love the bit on lip blisters.
If you haven't seen and read John Branch's piece on the Tunnel Creek avalanche on the back side of Stevens Pass, you should. Be prepared to spend the necessary time, it is a thorough piece of journalism and beautifully presented.
Happy holidays everybody. Safe speed.