Orlando Ortega

Reports: Hurdler Orlando Ortega deserts Cuban team, whereabouts unknown

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Cuban sprint hurdler Orlando Ortega disappeared after missing the 110-meter hurdles final at the World Track and Field Championships last week, according to Cuban and Russian reports.

Ortega, who placed sixth at the 2012 Olympics, has already been ruled out becoming a naturalized Russian, the president of the Russian athletics federation said.

“The Russian Athletics Federation is not interested in Ortega’s services as an athlete,” Valentin Balakhnichev told R-Sport. “I have no information about the location of Ortega, as we haven’t received any requests from him. It was his decision to leave his team, and he didn’t return to his homeland and it will weigh upon his conscience.”

Ortega, 22, was suspended by the Cuban track and field federation earlier this summer for “indiscipline,” but that six-month ban was lifted before the World Championships. He owns the third-fastest time in the world this year behind world champion David Oliver and Olympic bronze medalist Hansle Parchment.

Cuba’s most famous track and field athlete, Dayron Robles, the 2008 Olympic champion in the 110-meter hurdles, was similarly banned earlier this year and did not compete at worlds.

Robles had said in January he would no longer compete for Cuba, and his coach said the same month that Robles would retire due to lack of attention from Cuban officials, though Robles went on to enter competitions in July.

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Katie Ledecky wins by 28 seconds on 21st birthday to close NCAAs

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Katie Ledecky capped her second NCAA Championships with a win by 28 seconds in the 1,650-yard freestyle on her 21st birthday Saturday.

Last year, Ledecky lapped all but one swimmer through 1,000 yards of the 1650 final and won by 21.19 seconds.

Earlier this week, Ledecky anchored Stanford to an 800 freestyle relay title and won the 500 free by a record margin of more than eight seconds.

Then on Friday, teammate Ella Eastin beat Ledecky by 3.69 seconds in the 400 individual medley, an event that Ledecky never swims on the major international level. Eastin broke Ledecky’s NCAA record by 1.93 seconds.

Ledecky hasn’t discussed with Stanford whether she will return for her junior season or turn pro, according to the school.

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Mikaela Shiffrin wins final slalom for best career season (video)

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Mikaela Shiffrin won her 12th World Cup race this season and seventh slalom, both personal bests, at the World Cup Finals in Are, Sweden, on Saturday.

Shiffrin, who clinched her second World Cup overall title and fifth slalom season title before the last races of the campaign this weekend, prevailed by 1.58 seconds over Swiss Wendy Holdener. PyeongChang gold medalist Frida Hansdotter of Sweden was third.

“The slalom has always been really close to my heart,” said Shiffrin, who won the last two slaloms this season after a shocking fourth-place finish in PyeongChang. “To finish with a run like that was super special.”

Full results are here.

Shiffrin matched Lindsey Vonn‘s American record for World Cup wins in one season — 12 — with one more race Sunday. Only Swiss Vreni Schneider has more women’s World Cup wins in a single campaign with 14.

Shiffrin, who turned 23 on Tuesday, also moved into solo fifth place on the women’s World Cup wins list with 43, including 23 victories in the last two seasons.

If Shiffrin keeps it up, she can move into the top three next season, though Lindsey Vonn‘s record 82 is a ways off.

“I’m not thinking about that so much,” Shiffrin said. “It’s way too soon to set that as my goal.”

Shiffrin is also three World Cup slalom wins shy of the record 35 held by retired Austrian Marlies Schild, whom Shiffrin supplanted as the world’s top slalom skier in 2013.

The World Cup Finals conclude Sunday with the women’s giant slalom. Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA will air live coverage of the second run at 7:30 a.m. ET.

“After today I’m really looking forward to going to the start one more time this season and hammering down,” Shiffrin said.

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