Shiffrin fitness will set her apart, says Miller


PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Mikaela Shiffrin's results may have dipped slightly since he recently described her as the "best ski racer I've ever seen", but former Olympic champion Bode Miller believes the American will be back to her best when the Games kick off on Friday.

Shiffrin reeled off five consecutive World Cup victories to start 2018, but has since managed to only stand on the podium once in her last four outings, something compatriot Miller puts down to fatigue.

"She came in so fast and so strong from the pre-season, and all of her preparation was perfect," Miller told Reuters at his hotel in Pyeongchang, where he will work for broadcasters NBC and Eurosport as an analyst during the Games.

"And then on the road, racing every weekend and sometimes in the middle of the week, and training the whole time, sometimes you end up getting a little bit worn down," he explained.

Miller represented the US at five Olympics and became the oldest Alpine skier to medal when he won bronze in the Super G at the Sochi Games in 2014.

The outspoken 40-year-old said that Shiffrin might have been better off taking a few weeks off coming into the Olympics to give herself a chance to rest before carrying the considerable medal expectations of American fans.

Miller's six medals, including gold in the super combined at the 2010 Vancouver Games, make him the most successful American Olympic skier in history, but the 22-year-old Shiffrin, who already has a gold of her own, could easily eclipse him.

Having officially retired last October, Miller is enjoying the switch from skier to broadcaster, as well as building his business interests outside of sport and taking care of his growing family.

N.Korean orchestra serenades S. Koreans amid protest

A 137-strong North Korean orchestra kicked off its first performance in South Korea on Thursday, serenading hundreds of South Koreans with familiar tunes while dozens of protesters blasted their own music outside, to the beat of drums.

The Samjiyon Band's performance comes a day before South Korea opens its first Winter Olympics, amid a thaw in ties with North Korea highlighted by the first visit by its leader Kim Jong Un's sister, who is set to arrive on Friday.

Performing in the coastal city of Gangneung, the art troupe played songs from both North and South Korea, as well as a medley of Western tunes, including one from Broadway musical 'Phantom of the Opera'.

"We came because it's a historic moment and perhaps the only opportunity for exchanges between North and South Korea," said South Korean Choi Kyung-in, 54, standing beside her daughter.

The band is Pyongyang's main art troupe and has previously been seen performing pieces from American animation movies such as "Beauty and the Beast," and "The Lion King."

The performance is the first by North Koreans in the South since 2000, when another orchestra crossed the border for a joint concert to mark Korea's Liberation Day on Aug. 15.

Confusion and arguments over some designated seats in the audience caused a 10-minute delay in the Gangneung Arts Center.

More than 150,000 South Koreans entered a lottery for tickets to the two performances the North Korean troupe will hold in South Korea. A random selection saw 780 winners receive two tickets each, the government said in a statement. A total of 812 people attended Thursday's show, among them 252 special invitees picked separately by the government.

About five minutes away from the concert hall, 80 protesters staged a demonstration in sub-zero temperatures, blasting out songs opposing the Pyeongchang Olympics and beating on drums. A barricade of about 100 police kept the protesters away from the performance site. — Reuters