Separated in age by a couple of decade, Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin head to the Pyeongchang Olympics because the previous, current and way forward for ski racing in the USA and around the globe.
Within the World Cup, their sport’s annual measuring stick, Vonn, 33, owns 4 general titles; Shiffrin, who turns 23 in March, is on tempo for her second. Vonn has gained 81 World Cup races, a document for a girl and second most for anybody in historical past; Shiffrin is midway there.
Every claimed an Olympic gold medal in her specialty: Vonn within the downhill in 2010; Shiffrin within the slalom in 2014, when Vonn was out after proper knee surgical procedure. Now, with the opening ceremony in South Korea on Friday, arrives the primary — and, presumably, final — likelihood for them to share the highlight at a Winter Video games.
“The regard they’ve for one another is extraordinary. Lindsey is such an unbelievable, achieved athlete, and Mikaela appears to be like at her that manner, in awe of her. And on the identical time, Lindsey is clearly in awe of Mikaela’s accomplishments, as is all the world, after all,” U.S. Ski and Snowboard Affiliation CEO Tiger Shaw stated. “You’ve gotten two of probably the most highly effective ladies within the athletic world, and so they’re each battling for their very own targets, and so they each need to obtain as many medals as doable in these Olympics.”
Vonn might be an amazing favourite within the downhill in South Korea, having gained the final three World Cup races in that occasion. She additionally may contend within the different pace occasion, the super-G, and the mixed, which provides the time from one downhill run and one slalom.
Shiffrin, in the meantime, can — certainly, might be anticipated to — develop into the primary with consecutive slalom golds; she gained 5 of the previous six World Cup slaloms she entered. She additionally may win a medal within the different technical occasion, the large slalom, together with the mixed, and is more likely to be within the beginning hut for pace occasions, too.
“I wish to attempt to perceive what makes them tick and makes them so nice,” Shaw stated of the American staff’s two greatest racers, “after which we attempt to bottle that up and make the opposite athletes perceive what that’s, to allow them to use it, too.”
There are, to make sure, connections between Vonn and Shiffrin, who’re each based mostly in Colorado.
Group USA’s 2018 Winter Olympics portraits
Their broadly lauded work ethic and health coaching.
Their want to assist promote ski racing and appeal to new followers and new athletes, notably ladies.
And, after all, the comparisons perpetuated by others.
“It’s so ingrained. They at all times evaluate Mikaela to Lindsey Vonn. … It’s a traditional factor for folks to do,” stated Shiffrin’s mom, Eileen, who’s one in all her coaches. “However Mikaela, proper from the get-go, at all times stated: ‘I’m not Lindsey. I’m not The Subsequent Lindsey Vonn; I’m Mikaela Shiffrin. That’s who I’m. That’s who I need to be. I don’t need to be Lindsey Vonn. And I don’t need to … comply with in her footsteps. Or any of these issues. We’re not even doing the identical occasions, for Pete’s sake. So I’m not The Subsequent Lindsey Vonn.’”
There’s, although, a mutual admiration.
“Lindsey was one in all my actually largest idols rising up. And I nonetheless have an unlimited respect for her. The profession she’s had, the main focus and power that she places into this sport,” stated the youthful Shiffrin, who research video of Vonn’s downhill runs. “So to listen to anyone with the form of success that she’s had say something remotely optimistic about me could be very flattering.”
Vonn does have loads of good issues to say about Shiffrin.
Throughout one current interview, for instance, she referred to as Shiffrin an “amazingly gifted skier” and praised her as somebody who “works extremely exhausting” and who “undoubtedly has numerous prospects in entrance of her.”
Athletes share behind-the scenes pictures forward of the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics
Whereas their careers have overlapped, they haven’t confronted off a lot for a wide range of components. Amongst them: time Vonn misplaced to accidents, her concentrate on the downhill and super-G — she’s entered zero slaloms since 2013 — and Shiffrin’s comparatively current venturing into these occasions.
So whereas the 2 collected a mixed 194 top-three finishes in World Cup races, they did so on the identical day solely as soon as.
That was on Jan. 19, when Vonn was second and Shiffrin third in a downhill at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
“It’s bizarre that we haven’t been on the rostrum collectively earlier than. As a result of we’ve each been profitable, simply not on the identical time,” Vonn stated. “It was actually enjoyable. We’re going to be on the rostrum much more collectively sooner or later, which is nice.”
Maybe as quickly as this month in South Korea.
However who is aware of for the way for much longer that can even be a chance? Vonn plans to compete for an additional World Cup season with two goals in thoughts: She desires to get permission for a barrier-breaking race in opposition to males and plans to eclipse Ingemar Stenmark’s mark of 86 profession victories.
If — when? — she does the latter, it might be only a matter of time till Shiffrin betters Vonn’s document. In spite of everything, Shiffrin’s 41 World Cup wins are probably the most for somebody earlier than her 23rd birthday and a outstanding 34 greater than Vonn gathered by that age. Sure, you learn that accurately: 34 extra.
Again throughout preseason coaching in New Zealand in 2015, Vonn and Shiffrin — rivals on the slopes, American teammates off — met at a espresso store for warm cocoa and their first prolonged chat.
They talked about life and household and, after all, snowboarding, and the concept of going head-to-head as Shiffrin ready to increase her repertoire to incorporate the pace races which were Vonn’s area for years and years.
“I’ve a sense,” Shiffrin stated shortly after that heart-to-heart, “it might be a type of issues the place she’s not going to present it to me, and I’m certain as heck not going to present it to her.”