Since her return to Alpine skiing’s World Cup six weeks ago, Mikaela Shiffrin has been solely focusing on her strongest events: slalom and GS.
That might change in two weeks’ time, though.
After finishing fourth in a World Cup slalom in Croatia on Sunday, the American three-time overall champion was eyeing a return to training in speed events, with the Feb. 9-21 world championships in Italy approaching.
Shiffrin won a record fourth straight slalom title, but also a super-G gold at the worlds in Sweden two years ago.
A winner in all six Alpine disciplines, Shiffrin decided to focus on her core events first when she returned to the circuit from a 10-month break in November.
She has not skied on the long boards since winning a super-G in Bansko, Bulgaria, more than 11 months ago.
“I’ve not had time for speed training, yet,” said Shiffrin, who will next race a night slalom in Flachau, Austria, on Jan. 12 and two giant slaloms in Maribor, Slovenia, the following weekend.
“Then there might be a chance to get one or two sessions on super-G skies before (the Jan. 26 giant slalom in) Kronplatz,” she said. “That would be ideal — that’s the plan.”
Picking up super-G training again in the third week of January could enable Shiffrin to compete in the speed events at the world championships.
The Alpine combined, the super-G and the downhill are all scheduled in the first six days of the championships.
“It’s not out of the cards but it’s not a certainty right now,” Shiffrin said. “It really depends on what kind of training I can get beforehand. I probably don’t need a lot of training but I need some and it needs to be good and productive.”
However, the amount and quality of her speed training is not the only aspect Shiffrin will be factoring in.
National federations only get a limited number of starting spots for each race at world championships, and Shiffrin pointed out she was reluctant to take a teammate’s place.
But with Shiffrin as the 2019 gold medalist, the U.S. ski team gets an additional starting berth for the Feb. 9 super-G race.
“That’s nice because that opens it up a little bit,” she said.
Still, she won’t start in a speed race in Cortina d’Ampezzo next month just for the sake of racing it.
“When I am trying to decide which races I am going to do, I don’t want to go in and just say like: ‘I want to race, because I just want to and I don’t care how it goes.’ Because we have well more than four girls who are all able to perform really well. And that’s everything to them. So, I am super aware of that.”