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World Cup change may help Mikaela Shiffrin

Chris Freud
Vail Daily
With the Lech-Zurs, Switzerland, World Cup races postponed two weeks, Mikaela Shiffrin's first race this season could come in Levi, Finland, a place where Shiffrin has won four times.
Alessandro Trovati | Associated Press | AP

It’s kind of fun for something normal to happen in the time of COVID-19.

Lech-Zurs, Switzerland, was scheduled to host a men’s and women’s World Cup parallel giant slalom next weekend, but FIS postponed the event. Lech-Zurs doesn’t have enough snow yet.

Yes, we’re a snowsports community and we want everyone, including ourselves, to be digging out every day, but how delightfully normal is it that Lech-Zurs, sister ski resort to Beaver Creek, just doesn’t have snow?

It’s much better than a COVID outbreak, no?

So the early-season World Cup is rearranged yet again, but it could have a nice effect for everyone’s favorite skier — Mikaela Pauline Shiffrin. (No, I didn’t know her middle name was Pauline.)

Shiffrin was uncommitted to the Lech-Zurs parallel GS as scheduled for Nov. 14. She pulled out of Soelden, Austria, the season-opening GS, ostensibly from “tweaking” her back, but it’s not an over-reach to say she is still mourning her father, Jeff, who died in early February.

With Lech-Zurs pushed from a week from today to Nov. 28. Shiffrin’s new first event is now a slalom in Levi, Finland, on Nov. 21. Not only is that an extra week for physical healing, but her first race of the season will be in a comfortable place.

Whereas Lech-Zurs was the only site for GS and slalom racing on the 2020-21 calendar where Shiffrin has not won a race — it hasn’t hosted a World Cup event since Dec. 1994, three months before she was born — Levi is as much of a home as any place in Finland can be.

Having skipped this stop in 2015, since 2012 Shiffrin has finished 3-1-11-1-2-1-1 in Levi slaloms. Not only does her success there mean that she has four reindeer named Rudolph, Sven, Mr. Gru and Ingemar in Finland, but she knows the routine of racing here.

Yes, doubtless, all veterans of the tour have routines be it races in Levi, Soelden, Cortina, Italy, and so on, but the small things like having a favorite place to stay, knowing the places to eat, how long it takes to go from X to Y are important, helpful things when your life has been turned upside down.

A little certainty goes a long way.

World Cup TV news

With the World Cup season getting underway in earnest in two weeks, NBC Sports announced that its coverage will air on Peacock Premium. If you have Snow Pass from NBC, you will have to change over.

Peacock Premium runs $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year. Those prices do not include the coffee required to watch the races here in Colorado during the early-morning hours.

Fund update

The Jeff Shiffrin Athlete Resiliency Fund seems to be doing well, according to a tweet from Shiffrin.

While the tweet was not specific regarding financial numbers, the U.S. Ski Team is reporting that it has raised roughly $2.8 million of its $3 million goal.

The fund, founded to honor Jeff Shiffrin, aims to help fund snowsport athletes meet their expenses during COVID-19.


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