Shiffrin will skip World Cup races in France to rest, train

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United States’ Mikaela Shiffrin enters the finish area of an alpine ski, women’s World Cup giant slalom in Courchevel, France, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019.(AP Photo/Gabriele Facciotti)

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VAL D’ISERE, France (AP) — Mikaela Shiffrin is starting her Christmas racing break early by skipping a World Cup meeting in France this weekend.

After sitting out a training run Thursday ahead of a downhill scheduled Saturday, the three-time defending overall World Cup champion said she will now focus on preparing for Dec. 28-29 races in Austria.

“I was pretty excited, really — and it would have been the first time that I made that schedule work … but I have to get some work done now, so Merry Christmas and see you in Lienz!” Shiffrin wrote on her Twitter account.

Shiffrin would typically score well in the Alpine combined event, which includes a run of her best discipline slalom, scheduled Sunday at Val d’Isere. Her downhill form has been good with runner-up and 10th place finishes this season.

However, before the races are two days of downhill training runs that carry risk and burn energy — more so in a packed week that included a rare Tuesday race, a giant slalom at nearby Courchevel.

Instead, she will train for slalom, and the giant slalom in which she is Olympic champion.

Shiffrin wrote Tuesday after placing 17th, her lowest-scoring race this season, that she would reassess her schedule. She also opted not to race in parallel slalom last Sunday at St. Moritz despite winning that event in Switzerland last season.

Managing her workload has been a feature of Shiffrin’s three-year domination of the season-long points race, and she passed on the chance to set a record tally last season by resting and training instead of traveling to some meetings.

Shiffrin’s current lead of 165 points in the standings can be overtaken by in-form Federica Brignone before her planned return for giant slalom and slalom races at Lienz.

In Shiffrin’s absence Thursday, Austrian racers swept the top places in training led by Ramona Siebenhofer.

Austrians have won seven of the last 10 women’s World Cup downhills since Lindsey Vonn got her 82nd and final victory on the circuit in March 2018.

Siebenhofer has two of those 10 victories and was fastest by 0.24 seconds on a shorter version of the Oreiller-Killy course at Val d’Isere.

Nina Ortlieb was second, clocking the fastest speed of almost 120 kph (74 mph). Tamara Tippler was third, trailing Siebenhofer by 0.26.

Breaking up the Austrian dominance ahead of Saturday’s race, Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic was fourth fastest. Ledecka leads the downhill standings after two races, including her victory at Lake Louise, Canada.

Alice McKennis was the fastest American in 15th place Thursday, though less than one second behind the leader.

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