Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin interviewed by Santa Claus (video)

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Mikaela Shiffrin not only won a reindeer in Levi, Finland, on Saturday, but also a backseat interview with Santa Claus.

Santa asked the 18-year-old from Vail, Colo., if she had been to Levi before (yes, last year) and what she thought of the Finland ski resort north of the Arctic Circle.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s the North Pole, basically. I mean, I got a reindeer today, and now I’m having an interview with Santa.”

Santa then asked Shiffrin what she thought about Christmas.

“I love Christmas,” she said. “It’s my favorite holiday. … It’s snowy and there’s lights everywhere. Yummy cookies.”

As for the Reindeer, which Shiffrin named Rudolph?

“I’m going to follow its growth,” Shiffrin said. “It’s staying here in Levi. Hopefully when I come back next year, I’ll be able to visit, maybe ride it. I want to look it face to face again.”

Santa closed by asking her what she wanted for Christmas. (Well, what she “hoped for”) Shiffrin’s answer was unlike what most teenagers would say.

“In some ways, you make your own gift,” she said. “I’m going to try and make my own gift this season and see how far it can take my skiing.”

Shiffrin’s taken it pretty far already. She’s the reigning world champion and World Cup champion in the slalom and posted a career-best sixth place in the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 26.

The World Cup tour goes to Beaver Creek, Colo., for three races Thanksgiving weekend — a downhill, super-G and giant slalom. If Shiffrin keeps with her Olympic season plans, she will race the giant slalom.

Oh yeah, Santa gave her a gift anyway, a winter hat.

(h/t @usskiteam)

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Ida Keeling, 100 years old, sets world record at Penn Relays (video)

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Ida Keeling electrified the Penn Relays crowd with her 100-meter dash in 1 minute, 17.33 seconds on Saturday afternoon.

Keeling set a world record for fastest 100m by a woman 100 years and older. There is no data on USA Track and Field and masters athletics websites for a previous record holder.

“I’ll be 101 in a couple of weeks,” Keeling pointed out to NBC Sports’ Carolyn Manno after the race, a mixed-gender event for athletes 80 and older. “I’ve never seen nothing like this crowd. Maybe that’s what the excitement was.”

Keeling’s advice?

“Love yourself, do what you have to do and what you want to do,” she said. “Eat for nutrition, not for taste. And exercise at least once a day.”

More on Keeling is here.

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U.S. sprinters past, present trade relay barbs

Justin Gatlin
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The only loss for the Americans at the Penn Relays came in the men’s 4x100m, as the U.S. team bobbled its victory away on a bad baton handoff between Tyson Gay and Isiah Young for the final leg, which led to a disqualification.

Mike Rodgers and Justin Gatlin gave the Americans an early lead in the race, and things were moving along well during Gay’s third leg. But the muffed handoff for the final leg cost the Americans. Both the winning Jamaican squad and the second American team surpassed them.

Young finished third, but the team was disqualified because the handoff occurred outside the pass zone. The second U.S. team of Sean McLean, Wallace Spearman, Calesio Newman and Remontay McLain finished in 39.02.

The mistake led to some inflammatory comments from U.S. great Leroy Burrell about continued problems with handoffs by U.S. relay teams.

“Well, I think we’ve got to put our team together a little earlier, possibly,” Burrell said in a television interview. “I think, we’ve had the same coaches working with these guys for many years, and we’ve had failure after failure. So it’s possible that, you know, it might be time for a bit of a regime change with the leadership.

“I think the athletes have to be the catalysts that make that happen. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get the stick around. I saw thousands of relay teams yesterday — maybe not thousands, but hundreds of relay teams get it around. But the professionals can’t. That’s just not good for our sport.”

Rodgers didn’t take kindly to those remarks.

“People keep pointing their fingers and downing us, but nobody has ever tried to come out there and help us,” he said. “Nobody from the past. Not Carl [Lewis] or Leroy. They haven’t been out there. I can’t really respect their opinions because they’re supposed to be leaders in our sport and in the USA, and they’re not coming out there to drop some knowledge on us, so I don’t care what they have to say.”

Lewis criticized U.S. relays in March.

Gatlin was equally critical of Burrell.

“I’m tired of people who have been part of Team USA take shots at Team USA,” Gatlin said. “To put us in the same boat as high schoolers is insulting.”

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