U.S. teen Shiffrin wins third slalom of season, ties record

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News flash: 17-year-old American skier Mikaela Shiffrin is freaking good.

Having won two of the last three World Cup slalom races ahead of Tuesday’s event in Flachau, Austria, Shiffrin made it three for four with another victory – by almost a full second.

German Maria Hoefl-Riesch was in first place after the first run, just over a half second faster than Shiffrin. But in her second trip down the hill, Shiffrin blazed down the course in 56.19 seconds to take the lead. Hoefl-Riesch then missed a gate near the bottom of the course and recorded a DNF, handing the victory to the speedy teenager.

Shiffrin now leads the World Cup slalom standings by more than 80 points over Slovenian Tina Maze.

Shiffrin was compared to Austrian Alpine legend Annemarie Moser-Proell on Tuesday because her slalom win occurred when she was 17 years, 308 days old – the same exact age as Moser-Proell was when she won her third event, a record. Moser-Proell won three Olympic medals (one gold, two silver) and four world championship titles during her career, which ended in 1980.

“She is way ahead of her age,” Austria’s technical head coach Guenter Obkircher told the Associated Press. “She races fast and has a very solid technique. And she has this youthful carefreeness.”

Shiffrin’s U.S. teammate Ted Ligety has also noticed her talent.

“She is a solid skier for sure,” Ligety said. “She has been so good the last few races and last year, too. She doesn’t seem like a 17-year-old when she’s on the hill.”

Shiffrin already had become the first American to win two World Cup races before turning 18. Now she’s the first American to win three races. And she recently picked up some famous Twitter followers. Not bad for a World Cup rookie.

Teddy Riner, dominant judoka, to skip 2018, 2019 Worlds

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French judoka Teddy Riner, arguably the world’s most dominant athlete, will reportedly skip the next two world championships before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

French coach Franck Chambily said Riner will compete a light international schedule the next two years ahead of what would be his fourth Olympics, according to Agence France-Presse.

Riner, a 29-year-old, 6-foot-8-inch native of Guadeloupe, is undefeated since 2010 with a reported 144-match winning streak. That includes Olympic titles in 2012 and 2016 and world titles in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017.

Before the streak, Riner also earned world titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010, plus an Olympic bronze at age 19 in 2008.

He could compete through the 2024 Paris Games.

“When I am invincible, I will stop,” Riner said in 2013, according to The Associated Press.

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Maggie Nichols wins NCAA all-around title with perfect 10

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Even after a perfect 10 in the last rotation, Maggie Nichols didn’t know that she had won the NCAA all-around title. Her coach at Oklahoma, K.J. Kindler, had to tell her.

The reaction?

“Excitement,” Nichols said Friday night on ESPNU. “I just wanted to go out there and feel out the equipment, staying calm and doing my routines that I have been doing in training.”

Nichols, a 2015 World team champion who retired from elite gymnastics after missing the 2016 Olympic team (set back by a torn meniscus that year), became the first Sooner to win the NCAA all-around in 30 years.

The sophomore tallied 39.8125 points and topped Olympic alternate MyKayla Skinner of Utah by .0875 for the title in St. Louis. It came one year after Nichols was 29th in the all-around with a balance beam fall.

Oklahoma and Utah will be joined in Saturday night’s Super Six team finals by UCLA, LSU, Florida and Nebraska. The Sooners eye their third straight national title.

Nichols capped her night with one of two perfect scores between the two semifinal sessions, matching 2012 Olympic alternate Elizabeth Price‘s 10 on uneven bars. It gave Nichols a second career gym slam, a perfect score on every apparatus for the season.

On Jan. 9, Nichols came forward as “Athlete A,” who first reported to USA Gymnastics that she was sexually abused by Larry Nassar in summer 2015.

“She has had a really unique year probably like no one else, and her strength showed through,” Kindler said Friday, according to the University of Oklahoma. “It was tough, and to come out on this side this year is really special.”

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