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Mikaela Shiffrin plans to return next week

Mikaela Shiffrin plans to race for the first time in two months at the next World Cup slalom in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, next Monday.

Shiffrin, 20 and the reigning Olympic, World and World Cup slalom champion, has been out since suffering a right MCL tear and a bone fracture in a Dec. 12 warm-up crash.

''I am lucky that I hurt two of the things in my knee that can heal on their own really well,” Shiffrin, who returned to skiing Jan. 30, said in a press release. “If I had hurt my ACL or meniscus and needed surgery, I think this would have been a lot more difficult for me. But I have thought about my knee like a big cut on my leg or something.’'

Her timetable for a return this season has shifted in the last eight weeks.

The rescheduling of a canceled Jan. 31 slalom for next Monday changed her previous plans to return the final weekend of February.

“Our goal is to have her be really close to 100 percent, if not 100 percent [before competing],” said Shiffrin’s mother, Eileen, in an earlier Denver Post report. “We’ve heard all these horror stories about athletes who went back too soon and then sustained injuries that did end their careers.”

The World Cup season concludes March 20. There are four slaloms left on the calendar, and Shiffrin trails slalom standings leader Frida Hansdotter by 305 points.

A winner receives 100 points per victory, so Shiffrin could take her fourth straight World Cup season title, but it would all but require her to win all four remaining slaloms and for Hansdotter (and others) to struggle.

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