Shiffrin set to skip downhill at ski worlds


US star Mikaela Shiffrin confirmed Saturday that she would likely skip the downhill at the World Ski Championships that start in the French resorts of Courchevel and Meribel next week.

Shiffrin, one win short of matching Ingemar Stenmark’s overall World Cup record of 86 victories, said that the downhill was not currently on her radar, although her programme would evolve day-to-day.

Of her 85 victories on the elite ski circuit, only three have come in the downhill. The majority, 71, have come in the more technical disciplines: the slalom (52) and giant slalom (19).

The 27-year-old will be seeking a seventh world gold after four slalom crowns as well as victories in the super-G in 2019 and combined in 2021.

“I’m planning on skiing the combined, the super-G, giant slalom and slalom,” said Shiffrin, also a two-time Olympic gold medallist.

“That could change as we go, but that’s the plan right now.” That plan means Shiffrin will open her campaign in the French resort of Meribel with the defence of her alpine combined title on Monday.

The super-G follows two days later while the giant slalom is scheduled for February 16 and the slalom on the 18th. The downhill and the parallel events fall inbetween.

“I’ve kind of accomplished every wish I’ve ever had as far as world championships go in medals,” said Shiffrin, who walked away with four medals from four events in which she competed at the Cortina worlds in 2021.

“The whole purpose of any world championships or any big event is to go for gold. You don’t have to protect World Cup points or standings, anything like that.

“The whole purpose is to, every day, go out, ready to race, ready to take the risk and ski the fastest I can possibly ski. And then at the end of the day you just hope it’s good enough to win a medal.

“I don’t really have expectations.” – Not afraid of no medals –

Her Cortina success, however, was followed by disaster at last year’s Beijing Olympics as the American returned home from China with nothing to show from what she dubbed an “epic under-performance”.

Not only did Shiffrin fail to even finish the sla-lom, giant slalom and alpine combined — three events in which she had been a keen favourite — she did not get close to the podium in either the super-G or downhill either. Her failure to add to her two Olympic golds, which she said had left her feeling “like a joke”, has not replicated on this season’s World Cup circuit.

The Beijing experience, she admitted Saturday, was something that has stayed in her psyche. “My performance at the Games last winter is always a little bit in my head, it was an incredibly disappointing period of time, performance-wise,” Shiffrin said.—AFP