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Mikaela Shiffrin can finally relax again.
After a tense build-up to the Olympics
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, the American won her second straight overall World Cup title on Friday, five races before the end of the season.
”It’s been a big battle for me mentally to know exactly where my focus should be,” said Shiffrin, who turns 23 on Tuesday. ”It was quite a relief actually when the Olympics were over so I could focus on the rest of the World Cup season.”
Shiffrin won the Olympic gold medal in the giant slalom, and it was in Friday’s giant slalom that she clinched the overall World Cup title by finishing third. Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway, the Olympic silver medalist, won the race.
Even before her final run, Shiffrin was guaranteed of winning the title because her only remaining rival, Wendy Holdener, failed to finish in the top two
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, which she needed to maintain her mathematical title chance. The Swiss skier finished 14th.
”That’s really exciting, for sure. It’s hard to explain that feeling really,” said Shiffrin, who holds a 603-point lead over Holdener in the overall standings with only Saturday’s slalom and four races at next week’s World Cup finals in Sweden remaining.
”The best thing for me now is to have the crystal globe already locked in,” she said. ”I can really just enjoy the last races and not have to fight for points to win the globe.”
Shiffrin is the second American female skier to win multiple overall titles. Lindsey Vonn won the sport’s most coveted prize four times.
Friday’s result came exactly two months after Shiffrin’s last victory in a World Cup race. She racked up a personal best 10 World Cup wins this season, but they all came in a relatively short 46-day spell between Nov. 25 and Jan. 9.
She was a clear favorite to successfully defend her maiden overall title since setting a World Cup record by winning the first five races of 2018.
However, she failed to win another race after triumphing at a night slalom in Flachau, Austria. A dip in form during her last five races before the Pyeongchang Olympics saw her failing to finish three times and placing seventh twice.
In South Korea, she won Olympic gold in the giant slalom and silver in the combined event, but missed out on a medal in her strongest discipline
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, the slalom. She vomited before the start and later said that nerves played a role.
”I had goals for the slalom and GS globes, the overall globe, Olympic medals,” Shiffrin said Friday. ”My next biggest goal was to be strong for the end of the season.”
In her first race after the Olympics, Shiffrin was fourth after the opening run but improved a spot to third, 0.74 seconds behind Mowinckel.
The Norwegian won Olympic silver medals in both giant slalom and downhill last month but called her first career World Cup win ”the best feeling there is.”
”I’ve worked hard for this a really long time,” Mowinckel said. ”I knew my skiing was solid.”
Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany finished 0.66 behind in second and closed in on the season title in the discipline. With one race remaining, she leads world giant slalom champion Tessa Worley of France by 92 points in the discipline standings.
Friday’s result stretched Rebensburg’s lead over Shiffrin to 101 points, leaving the American out of contention for the GS title.
However, Shiffrin could add another discipline globe this weekend
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, holding a 175-point lead over Petra Vlhova of Slovakia going into the penultimate slalom race of the season on Saturday.
”For sure I have a big lead,” Shiffrin said. ”But nothing is impossible so I am going to stay focused.”
Friday’s race was interrupted after Tina Robnik crashed and had to be taken off the hill on a sled with an apparent knee injury. There was no immediate update on the Slovenian skier’s condition.
A theory has been making the rounds regarding the lack of a contract between the Raiders and defensive end Khalil Mack. It goes like this: The Raiders and Mack are waiting for the Rams and Aaron Donald to get a deal done first.
That theory would be somewhat plausible if the Raiders and Mack were actively negotiating, trading proposals and waiting for the Donald deal to get done before landing the plane. But the Raiders and Mack haven’t talked since February, making it much harder to envision the Raiders and Mack waiting for the Donald deal to be finalized before essentially starting from scratch.
Also, why would the Raiders and Mack assume that Donald, who stayed away last year until the day before the season started, would sign early enough to allow the Raiders and Mack to get their deal done in advance of the Week One game between the Rams and Raiders? Waiting for Donald could have meant (and still could mean) following him into a regular-season holdout.
Another theory continues to linger regarding the Raiders’ financial wherewithal (or lack thereof) to sign Mack. Regardless of whether the team has the money now to pay Mack’s signing bonus — and to put into escrow all future guarantees covering 2019 and beyond — the Raiders and old/new coach Jon Gruden surely had the money in February.
But Gruden spent some $55 million in 2018 money on other players, taking a big chunk out of the budget that otherwise would/could have gone to Mack. Quite possibly, Gruden decided in February to move on to other players, when a deal wasn’t quickly done with Mack.
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, Gruden likely now assumes that Mack will play for $13.846 million this year, and that the Raiders will simply franchise tag him next year. What remains to be seen is whether Mack shows up for Week One, or whether he’ll pass on game checks in excess of $800,000 each.
However it plays out, Gruden has publicly vowed to get Mack back. With no negotiations and possibly no money left in the 2018 budget to sign him to a long-term deal, whether Mack returns may be something that has nothing to do with anything Gruden says or does.
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