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DemocratandChronicle .com Thursday,October22,2015 Page9D OLYMPIC SPOR TS CHICAGO Mikaela Shi rin is one of the few people who actually wants to be clocked speeding. I n her ﬁ fth season on the World Cup circuit, it’s pretty clear t he 20-year-old has the technical e vents in skiing down. She is the r eigning Olympic champion in slalom and last season claimed her third consecutive World Cup t itle in slalom. She got her ﬁrst World Cup win in giant slalom last year in Soelden, Austria, where she again kicks o the 2015-16 season this weekend. But Shi rin, who said at the Sochi Olympics that her goal was to win ﬁve gold medals in 2018, isn’t content to stay in her comfort zone. She plans to race some of the speed events this season, starting with the super-G and downhill combined. “I’m mentally ready to start winning in other events,” Shi rin told USA TODAY Sports recently. “That doesn’t necessarily mean winning everything all the time, j ust to be at the top in all of these di erent events. “ That’s my main motivation, a nd I think it will be motivating f or a while, because I’m not anywhere near that.” Shi rin had hoped to start on t he speed events last year but realized early in the season she wasn’t prepared. In addition to being much faster — 75 to 80mph for downhill runs compared with 30mph on the fastest slalom courses — the speed events involve jumping and navigating blind turns. Shi rin didn’t have the training for that and feared taking time for it during the season would come at the expense of her slalom results. So she put on the brakes — temporarily. After devoting part of her o - season to speed training, she feels ready to take on the new events. “It’s all based o of where I am w ith my slalom and GS again, but I’m feeling pretty solid,” Shi rin s aid. “At the very least, I feel I’ve s et myself up to race speed more c omfortably because I’m actually prepared.” That Shi rin is taking such a l ong view of her young career is no surprise. Though she’s 20, she considers skiing her job as well as her passion. She is careful and pragmatic about her decisions, be it her plan to add events to her repertoire or the companies with whom she aligns herself. She recently re-upped with Barilla, the ﬁrst company to sponsor her. The pasta company signed her before she’d even made her ﬁrst World Cup podium, a vote of conﬁdence that Shi rin treasures. “That ﬁrst year on the World Cup, really what I needed was somebody to say, ‘You’re showing p romise and we want to bet on you.’ Not just, ‘You show promise, t his could be good in the future if y ou start winning and your mark et value goes up,’” said Shi rin, who ﬁnished third in her next race after Barilla agreed to spon- s or her. “Sometimes you just need somebody to say they bet on you to spur the success.” Since then, she has made the podium in 23 other World Cup events, winning 15 of them. In ad- dition to her gold in Sochi, she claimed the slalom title in the 2013 and 2015 world championships. No skier, male or female, has won ﬁve gold medals total, let alone in one Olympics. But Shiffrin is game for trying. “My goal when I go into a race is to be prepared enough that I can win. If I put my best skiing out there, I can compete with the b est,” she said. “When I said ﬁ ve gold medals, at least I want to g ive myself a shot. Whether it h appens or not, big whoop. But I w ant to be able to be one of the girls who goes to the start and can be one of the favorites in each e vent.” ANDREW P. SCOTT, USA TODAY SPORTS “I want to be able to be one of the girls who goes to the start and can be one of the favorites in each event,” says Mikaela Shi rin, an slalom Olympic gold medalist. Olympic champ picks up speed Dominant slalom skier Shi rin aims to excel in other events, too FOLLOW COLUMNIST NANCY ARMOUR @nrarmour for analysis from the s ports world. Nancy Armour firstname.lastname@example.org USA TODAY Sports After watching the 2014-15 New Orleans Pelicans play in the postseason from the bench in a suit because of an injury, point guard Jrue Holiday is keeping his goal simple. He’s not concerned about making the playo s or winning a series. He just wants to be on the court after mid-January. In the last two seasons, Holiday’s season ended essentially in January — Jan. 8 in 2013-14 and Jan. 12 last season — because of injuries. “That’s pretty important for me to be able to play through J anuary,” Holiday said. To improve on last season’s 4537 record and ﬁrst-round playo exit, the Pelicans need a healthy Holiday, who averaged 14.8 points, 6.9 assists and 1.6 steals in 40 games last season. Power forward Anthony Davis is without question the force and focal point of the o ense and defense, but new coach Alvin Gentry says it’s not all on Davis. Guard play will be crucial under Gentry’s desire to run an up- tempo o ense. During training camp scrimmages, the Pelicans played with a shot clock starting at 18. Get the ball up the court to t ry to take advantage of the defense before it can set up. “ The way I play, I ﬁt the style Coach Gentry wants, which is push the ball up the ﬂoor, have a nice rhythm, have a nice pace, make good decisions with the ball and o the ball and get people in their places,” Holiday said. The Pelicans were 27th in pace last season with 93.7 possessions per 48 minutes. So far in the preseason, they’re at 104.4 posses- sions per 48 minutes. That pace won’t be maintained in the regular season, but the idea is clear. The Pelicans have o ensive ability with Davis, Holiday, forwards Ryan Anderson and Luke Babbitt, guard-forward Tyreke Evans and guards Norris Cole and Eric Gordon. Gordon also expects to play a prominent role in Gentry’s offense, which will not only feature Davis but also shooters at the three-point line. Gordon shot a career-best 44.8% on three- pointers last season, and if you paid attention to the way the Golden State Warriors, for whom Gentry was an assistant coach, played last season, shooters will get their opportunities. “I’ll play a much bigger role this year because Coach is letting me get the ball in so many di ere nt ways and wants me to be a major playmaker for this team,” Gordon said. “I’m going to have a chance to score in many ways, whether it’s a midrange shot, three-point shot or getting to the basket.” Gordon says he thinks he can increase his scoring this season and sees himself involved in more pick-and-rolls. “I’ll be a more proliﬁc scorer probably in this role now,” he said. Three years ago, Gordon came close to playing for Gentry, who was coaching the Phoenix Suns. Then a restricted free agent, Gordon signed an o er sheet from the Suns but New Orleans matched. Now, Gordon is thrilled to have Gentry as his coach. “He was a main factor, because Ihad always done well in a fast- paced tempo because of my s hooting and going to the basket,” Gordon said of his desire to play for Gentry in 2012. “He’s a good person, too, because he likes to relate to his players. He’s all about being on the same page with everybody, and everybody having fun also.” When Gordon signed that o er sheet in 2012, he was unhappy in New Orleans. That’s no longer the case, as Gordon enters the ﬁnal season of his contract. “This go-around for me, it’s all about how much fun you can have with the coach and the players,” said Gordon, who hopes to make his ﬁrst All-Star team. “If I ’m here long term, I’ll be happy with that.” B ut right now, Gordon and Holiday are concentrating on mastering Gentry’s system. “Everybody’s going to be held accountable on this team,” Gordon said. “We have a lot of good players, and it’s all about us adjusting to his style of o ense and defense. Once we get a hold of that, we’re going to be very good. We’re a very deep team.” NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION Health main priority for Pelicans’ Holiday Injuries curtailed point guard’s last two seasons Jeff Zillgitt @JeffZillgitt USA TODAY Sports MARK ZEROF, USA TODAY SPORTS The Pelicans are counting on a full season from point guard Jrue Holiday, who averaged 14.8 points in 40 games last season.