Aspen Times Weekly: The Shiffrin Show | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Times Weekly: The Shiffrin Show

by DALE STRODE

Mikaela Shiffrin knows World Cup ski racing, and she knows mathematics.

She even knows fractions — fractions of a second.

A native of Vail and the three-time World Cup slalom overall champion, Shiffrin also is accomplished in the higher algebra of FIS points and World Cup seedings.

The rising leader of the U.S. Ski Team will have the chance to multiply her World Cup points in Aspen with the addition of an extra World Cup slalom on the Aspen Winternational schedule this year.

When snow and weather conditions in Levi, Finland, forced cancellation of a scheduled World Cup slalom, FIS officials reached out to Aspen, which already was set to host a giant slalom and a slalom on Aspen Mountain over Thanksgiving weekend.

Aspen reached back with a happy handshake to serve as host of another World Cup slalom, the one originally scheduled for Finland.

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The Aspen World Cup race schedule now calls for the giant slalom Friday, Nov. 27, on the Lift 1A side of Aspen Mountain.

The first slalom of the Aspen Winternational weekend will be Saturday, Nov. 28.

The second slalom — Shiffrin's multiplier — will be Sunday, Nov. 29, also at the Lift 1A venue, and will feature grandstand spectator seating again this year.

"We are honored to be able to support the racers and our partners at the U.S. Ski Team and FIS by hosting this additional race," said John Rigney, vice president of sales and events for the Aspen Skiing Co. "This is a testament to the crews prepping our storied race venue, and everyone involved with the race, including our volunteers."

Rigney said the additional World Cup race adds momentum to Aspen's early opening, not to mention the international television coverage that will showcase the local snow conditions.

The races on U.S. snow also give the Americans an opportunity to continue the momentum that Shiffrin established in the first World Cup giant slalom of the year in Soelden, Austria.

Shiffrin finished second in the Soelden GS, just behind winner Federica Brignone of Italy.

Tina Weirather of Liechtensten finished third in Austria.

All three will race in Aspen, along with Eva-Maria Brem of Austria, the 2014 winner of the Aspen Winternational GS.

Meanwhile, back to the math.

Shiffrin will have an added chance to collect World Cup points in Aspen because of subtraction.

For the Aspen Winternational and the World Cup season, subtract:

• Defending World Cup overall champion Anna Fenninger of Austria, who will miss the Aspen races and the entire season after suffering a serious knee injury in training. She recently underwent surgery, including surgery on her patella tendon.

• Aspen favorite Tina Maze of Slovenia, the overall World Cup champion in 2013, is sitting out the race season to prepare for the following season and future world championships and Olympics. Maze is a two-time Olympic gold medalist.

• Nicole Hosp of Austria, who won the slalom in Aspen last year, retired after last season. She will not return to Aspen to defend her slalom title.

• Austria's Kathrin Zettel, who has won more medals in Aspen than any other female ski racer, retired. She finished second in the GS and third in the slalom at Aspen Mountain a year ago. She concluded her career with 10 medals in Aspen World Cup events.

• Julia Mancuso of the U.S. Ski Team underwent hip surgery last week, and she will miss the Aspen races and the entire World Cup season.

Even with those subtractions, there will be plenty of competition to battle Shiffrin for World Cup points in Aspen.

Sweden's Frida Hansdotter finished on the podium in second place in the slalom last year. She'll be back along with the ever-powerful Austrian team.

Shiffrin, who will turn 21 later this race season, led the slalom in Aspen last year after the first run. But a midcourse bobble on the second run sent her to fifth place and kept her off the podium.

Shiffrin had finished sixth in the Aspen GS in 2014.

The Vail ski racer opened the new season this year with a second-place finish three weeks ago at the World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria.

In her fifth season on the World Cup tour, Shiffrin has 25 podium finishes and 15 World Cup victories. Fourteen wins came in slalom; one in GS.

The winner of the Olympic gold medal in slalom at the Sochi Winter Olympics, Shiffrin also has two golds from the world championships — including last year at Beaver Creek. Shiffrin was the youngest Olympic slalom champion in history (18 years, 345 days).

She finished fifth in the World Cup overall standings last year.

Part of her competition in Aspen will come from fellow Vail ski racer Lindsey Vonn, who is scheduled to race GS on Aspen Mountain.

Vonn, returning from an ankle injury, is the most successful female ski racer of all time with 67 World Cup wins.

The official schedule for Aspen Winternational calls for giant slalom racing to start at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 27, followed by the second run at 1 p.m.

The first slalom race Saturday, Nov. 28, will start at 10:15 a.m. with the second run at 1:15 p.m.

Sunday's slalom will start at 10 a.m.

Sunday's second run will start at 1 p.m.

The trio of races will be the last World Cup races in Aspen for a year and a half.

Aspen will not host women's World Cup races next November.

Rather, Aspen next will host the 2017 World Cup Finals in March/April 2017 featuring the top men and women racing in all disciplines.

dstrode@aspentimes.com

IF YOU GO …

FRIDAY, NOV. 27

10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sponsor Village open, Gondola Plaza

10 a.m. Race start: Giant Slalom Run 1, Strawpile

11:45 a.m. Live music, prize giveaways & kids race, finish area

1 p.m. Race start: Giant Slalom Final, Strawpile

4:30-5:30 p.m. Public wax room tours, Mountain Chalet parking garage

5:30-7:30 p.m. World Cup Kick-Off Party: U.S. Ski Team Autograph Signing (5:30–6:30 p.m.) and Slalom Public Bib Draw (6:45–7 p.m.), Limelight Hotel

SATURDAY, NOV. 28

10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sponsor Village open, Gondola Plaza

10:15 a.m. Race start: Women’s Slalom Run 1, Strawpile

11:45 a.m. Live music, prize giveaways & kids race, finish area

1:15 p.m. Race start: Women’s Slalom Final, Strawpile

6:30-8 p.m. Bud Light Hi-Fi Concert Series: Jamestown Revival, Upper Gondola Plaza

8-8:15 p.m. Awards Ceremony for Slalom Winners, Concert Stage

8:15 p.m. Fireworks Extravaganza, Little Nell

SUNDAY, NOV. 29

10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sponsor Village open, Gondola Plaza

10 a.m. Race start: Women’s Slalom Run 1, Strawpile

11:30 a.m. Live music, prize giveaways & kids race, finish area

1 p.m. Race start: Women’s Slalom Final, Strawpile