Shiffrin takes break to recharge

The only sure way to beat Mikaela Shiffrin these days is to have her not show up.

And that’s about to be the case.

A worn out and under-the-weather Shiffrin will temporarily apply the brakes on her splendid season in order to take a much-needed breather. The way she’s racing, that’s almost got to be a sigh of relief for the rest of the field.

The skier from Avon, Colorado, plans on skipping World Cup races in Switzerland and Russia — site of the 2014 Sochi Games, where she won Olympic gold in the slalom — before returning to the circuit for the final push. Following a nearly two-week hiatus, she will be back in the start gate for the technical races in the Czech Republic and then the World Cup Finals in Andorra.

Her absence is a chance for other names to appear on top of a podium she’s dominated of late.

So far this season, Shiffrin’s recorded 20 top-three finishes, including 14 World Cup wins along with two world championships gold medals and a bronze. She’s already wrapped up the World Cup slalom title and currently sits 719 points ahead of Petra Vlhova of Slovakia in a bid to win her third straight overall World Cup crown.

Shiffrin could keep right on charging. But what she really needs is time to recharge.

“Just get 100 percent recovered and healthy again, get some training in,” said Shiffrin, who turns 24 on March 13.

Shiffrin’s been running on fumes for days. She earned her fourth straight slalom title at the world championships in Sweden last Saturday despite a cold so severe it had her team fearing she might have a touch of pneumonia. She wasn’t sure how well she could compete, but stormed to the title with a furious final run that left her breathless and speechless.

“Most emotional I’ve ever been at a ski race. I kept crying,” said Shiffrin , who’s typically so reserved after wins. “Some of that might have been illness and being exhausted.”

A few days later, Shiffrin captured a city event in Stockholm. It was her 57th career win on the circuit and 14th of the season, matching the record for most World Cup victories in a single campaign, set by Swiss great Vreni Schneider in the 1990s.

Then, Shiffrin fell into a deep slumber that lasted 13 hours. She was that exhausted.

“Rest,” she said, “is going to help a lot.”

And rest assured, she’s got the formula for winning down to a science. Her hidden secret? Don’t set high expectations.

Better yet, none at all.

She does her best work when she doesn’t imagine a good run, because rarely does it live up to the picture in her mind. So she concentrates on going from gate to gate in order to capture win after win.

“When I’m in the starting gate thinking, ‘I want to win this,’ I bring the intensity too high and then I make a mistake,” explained Shiffrin, who also won gold in the super-G at the recent world championships and bronze in the giant slalom. “I get to the finish and I’m really disappointed because I totally let the result get in the way of the actual process.”

“My biggest goal is every time I stand in the starting gate, no matter what records I might be looking at, focus on the skiing, focus on the turns, because that’s the thing that leaves me the most satisfied.”

Lately, she’s been dealing with a sore back. She described it as a “GS back,” due to all the rotational force and the movement required in the giant ss0351 —– u s bx BC-FBN–Patriots Owner-Prostitution Charge,13th Ld-Writethru (AP 2-22-2019 17:23 EST)

Patriots owner Robert Kraft accused of soliciting prostitute

Eds: Minor editing. With AP Photos.

By TERRY SPENCER and JOSHUA REPLOGLE

Associated Press

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Robert Kraft, the billionaire owner of the New England Patriots, faces charges of soliciting a prostitute after he was twice videotaped in a sex act at a shopping-center massage parlor in Florida, police said Friday.

The 77-year-old Kraft denied any wrongdoing. The case comes amid a crackdown on sex trafficking from Palm Beach to Orlando in which police planted cameras in massage parlors.

Kraft was not immediately arrested. Jupiter police said a warrant will be issued and his attorneys will be notified. They said details about the misdemeanor charges against the owner of the Super Bowl champion team will not be released until next week.

Hundreds of arrest warrants have been issued in recent days as a result of the six-month investigation, and more are expected. Ten spas have been closed, and several people have been taken into custody on sex trafficking charges.

Jupiter Police Chief Daniel Kerr said he was shocked to learn that Kraft, who is worth $6 billion, was paying for sex inside a shopping-center massage parlor, the Orchids of Asia Day Spa. “We are as equally stunned as everyone else,” Kerr said.

Most people charged for the first time with soliciting a prostitute in Florida are allowed to enter a diversion program, said attorney David Weinstein, a former prosecutor. Kraft would probably have to perform 100 hours of community service and attend a course on the harmful effects of prostitution and sex trafficking, he said.

The arrest could also get Kraft in trouble with the NFL, which in a statement said only that it is “aware of the ongoing law enforcement matter and will continue to monitor developments.”

Under league policy, players, owners, coaches and other employees can be punished for “conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in” the NFL.

“Ownership and club or league management have traditionally been held to a higher standard and will be subject to more significant discipline,” the policy says.

The Patriots won the Super Bowl this month over the Los Angeles Rams for their sixth NFL championship in the past 18 seasons, making them the most successful team in pro sports during that span. Before the Super Bowl, several retired NFL players appeared in a public service announcement decrying sexual exploitation and human trafficking in Atlanta, the host city.

Kraft lives in Massachusetts and has a home in the Palm Beach area. Though he is a Democrat, he is friendly with President Donald Trump and a frequent guest at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club. Kraft’s wife, Myra Hiatt Kraft, died in 2011. He has been dating 39-year-old actress Ricki Noel Lander since 2012.

“Well it’s very sad. I was very surprised to see it. He’s proclaimed his innocence, totally,” Trump said at the White House on Friday.

In a statement, Kraft’s representatives said they “categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity.”

The spa Kraft allegedly visited is in a busy, upper-middle-class shopping center with neighbors that include a dentist, a real estate office, surf and bike shops and a Publix supermarket.

After hearing about the arrest, Brian Rubino, a Patriot fan who lives nearby, went by the spa wearing a team jersey. He said Kraft made a mistake, but he could see how it might happen.

“A 77-year-old man, lost his wife, who knows? I see how you can end up in a place like this,” Rubino said.

Vero Beach police Chief David Currey, whose agency has been involved in the sex-trafficking investigation, told reporters earlier this week that the prostitutes are victims who have been trapped into the trade.

“These girls are there all day long, into the evening. They can’t leave and they are performing sex acts,” Currey said, according to TCPalm. “Some of them may tell us they’re OK, but they’re not.”

The owner of Orchids of Asia Day Spa, 58-year-old Hua Zhang, was arrested Tuesday on 29 prostitution and related charges. Police in her arrest report said they watched video of her employees performing various sex acts with two dozen customers. Her attorney, Gennaro Cariglio Jr., had no comment.

Kraft, who made his initial fortune through a packaging company, bought the Patriots in 1994 for $172 million to keep the team from moving to St. Louis. He hired Bill Belichick as coach in 2000, and the team later drafted quarterback Tom Brady, launching its nearly two decades of success.

In 2007, the Patriots got in trouble for filming other teams’ signals. The NFL fined the team $250,000 and Belichick $500,000. In 2014, Brady was accused of delating game footballs to gain a better grip. He served a four-game suspension, and the Patriots were fined $1 million.

Kraft was not implicated in either scandal.

——

Spencer reported from Fort Lauderdale. AP sports writer Kyle Hightower in Boston and reporter Kevin Frekking in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press.lalom.

“With each year, my body is starting to complain to me,” said Shiffrin, who earned Olympic gold (giant slalom) and silver (combined) at the Pyeongchang Games last February. “My back has been kind of nagging all season long. It’s something we’ve had to manage.”

There will be plenty on the line when she returns from her brief break. She holds a slight lead over Tessa Worley of France in the overall GS race. Shiffrin also has a 32-point advantage over Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein in the season-long super-G standings (one of the races in Russia is a super-G). Her priority the rest of the way will definitely be on the GS, a World Cup crown she’s yet captured. Should she capture the super-G title, well, that’s an added bonus since she only recently started training for the speed discipline.

“I’m having more fun this season than I ever have, which is awesome,” Shiffrin said.

This will keep her motivated down the stretch: “I’m looking forward,” Shiffrin said, “to getting to a beach — somewhere.”

——

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP–Sports

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press.

COMMENTS