Separated in age by about a decade, Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin head to the Pyeongchang Olympics as the past, present and future of ski racing in the United States and around the world.
In the World Cup, their sport’s annual measuring stick, Vonn, 33, owns four overall titles; Shiffrin, who turns 23 in March, is on pace for her second. Vonn has won 81 World Cup races, a record for a woman and second most for anyone in history; Shiffrin is halfway there.
Each claimed an Olympic gold medal in her specialty: Vonn in the downhill in 2010; Shiffrin in the slalom in 2014, when Vonn was out after right knee surgery. Now, with the opening ceremony in South Korea on Friday, arrives the first — and, presumably, last — chance for them to share the spotlight at a Winter Games.
“The regard they have for each other is extraordinary. Lindsey is such an incredible, achieved athlete, and Mikaela looks at her that way, in awe of her. And at the same time, Lindsey is clearly in awe of Mikaela’s accomplishments, as is the entire world, of course,” U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association CEO Tiger Shaw said. “You have two of the most powerful women in the athletic world, and they’re both battling for their own goals, and they both want to achieve as many medals as possible in these Olympics.”
Vonn will be an overwhelming favorite in the downhill in South Korea, having won the last three World Cup races in that event. She also could contend in the other speed event, the super-G, and the combined, which adds the time from one downhill run and one slalom.
Shiffrin, meanwhile, can — indeed, will be expected to — become the first with consecutive slalom golds; she won five of the past six World Cup slaloms she entered. She also could win a medal in the other technical event, the giant slalom, along with the combined, and is likely to be in the starting hut for speed events, too.
32 Russians seek spots
Six-time Olympic gold medalist Viktor Ahn and three former NHL players are among 32 Russian athletes who filed appeals Tuesday seeking spots at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
The 32 athletes all failed to pass the mandatory International Olympic Committee vetting — imposed as a result of Russian doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics — and weren’t invited to the games.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport said it would likely hear the case Wednesday in Pyeongchang. If the Russian athletes force the IOC to invite them, it would mean the medal contenders in some sports change dramatically only days before the games open on Friday.
CAS added that as well as short-track speedskating great Ahn, the 32 include world cross-country skiing champion Sergei Ustyugov and world biathlon champion Anton Shipulin.
The bobsledders might push harder. The speedskaters might go faster. The ski jumpers certainly will soar higher.
Yet no one will work longer hours than American curlers Matt and Becca Hamilton.
By qualifying for both the new mixed doubles discipline and the traditional, single-gender curling event, the siblings from McFarland, Wisconsin, could be on the ice for as many as 50 hours — by far the longest anyone will be in live competition at the Winter Games.
Depending on tiebreakers and whether they can get a bye in the semifinals, the Hamiltons could be competing for 18 straight days.
“No curler’s ever done that,” Becca Hamilton said. “Not many curlers are going to be able to get the opportunity.”
Norovirus hits security
South Korean authorities deployed 900 military personnel at the Pyeongchang Olympics on Tuesday after the security force was depleted by an outbreak of norovirus.
Games organizers said 32 workers are being treated for norovirus in quarantine, including 21 from the Civil Security Staff and three foreigners. About 1,200 people working security were being kept in their rooms while being tested for norovirus.
“To address the shortfall in security workforce due to the isolation, 900 military personnel have been deployed to take over the work of the civil safety personnel,” the organizing committee said in a statement. “They will work across 20 venues until all affected workforce are able to return to duty.”
Norovirus is a contagious virus that causes stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea. The most effective way to stop the spread is to practice good hand-washing and personal hygiene.
Ivanka Trump’s the closer
The White House says President Donald Trump’ daughter, Ivanka, will lead the U.S. delegation to the closing ceremony. Ivanka Trump serves in the White House as an unpaid adviser to her father.
What: Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics
When: Friday, 6-8 a.m.
Where: Olympic Stadium, PyeongChang, South Korea
TV: Live on NBCOlympics.com. NBC will broadcast the Opening Ceremony Friday at 8 p.m. ET.