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Mikaela Shiffrin prioritizes giant slalom, slalom looking ahead to return

Mikaela Shiffrin has not announced a return date from injuries sustained in a Jan. 26 downhill crash, but is prioritizing her primary disciplines of giant slalom and slalom, events that next take place on the World Cup from March 9-10.

“We are working on a 4-6 week timeline from the crash, given what the injuries are: MCL sprain, Tib-Fib ligament sprain at both the knee and the ankle, and bone bruising,” according to an email from Shiffrin’s team Wednesday night.

Shiffrin will miss this weekend’s speed races (two downhills and a super-G) in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, though she wasn’t planning to race them if she was healthy. Shiffrin typically skips some speed races every season.

The next two weekends are also speed races, in Val di Fassa, Italy, and Kvitfjell, Norway.

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After that, the World Cup visits Åre, Sweden, for a giant slalom and a slalom on March 9-10.

“We knew Åre was *likely* going to be the target, but didn’t rule out a shorter timeline in case my symptoms and load tolerance improved quicker,” Shiffrin said in Wednesday’s update, noting the approach to her return remains “day by day.”

She is improving daily, feels good strength-wise and plans to introduce skiing into her rehab over the next week.

“One of the most important elements to returning to on-snow training and racing safely, is ensuring I have symmetrical power and quickness, which is simply not there yet,” she said.

Shiffrin has a World Cup-leading seven wins this season, extending her record to 95 career victories.

Before this season, Shiffrin prioritized the World Cup overall title over race wins. She said winning a female record-tying sixth overall crown would “be the biggest accomplishment” of her skiing career.

The injuries may prevent her from contending for this season’s title.

Last weekend, Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami passed the sidelined Shiffrin for a five-point lead in the standings for the overall, which adds up results from all 41 scheduled World Cup races this season from October to March.

A race winner receives 100 points on a descending scale through one point for 30th place.

Gut-Behrami is strong in downhill, super-G and GS, so she is expected to pad her standings lead this week, plus the next two weekends should Shiffrin not return until March 9-10.

If Gut-Behrami maintains her results so far this season, she would add 381 points over the seven upcoming speed races.

After the string of speed races, there are six races left this season: the GS and slalom from March 9-10 and then one race each in slalom, GS, super-G and downhill at the World Cup Finals from March 16-23 in Saalbach, Austria.