Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin struggles in Courchevel slalom; Marlies Schild wins

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Mikaela Shiffrin has strong competition in the slalom after all.

The American teen posted her lowest World Cup slalom finish in 10 races, while one of her idols won for the first time since returning from major injury in Courchevel, France, on Tuesday.

Shiffrin, 18 and the reigning world and World Cup champion in the event, finished 12th in a two-run time of 1 minute, 47.28 seconds.

“Mikaela wasn’t able to get the battery charged and that happens,” U.S. coach Roland Pfeifer said, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “She really had a bad day today and that’s probably not the last time that’s going to happen. We just need to accept that the other athletes were skiing better today.”

Shiffrin was coming off skiing out of a giant slalom Sunday. On Tuesday, her first of two runs put her in seventh place, .90 of a second behind. That made it unlikely Shiffrin could win her third straight World Cup slalom dating to last season.

“Not my best run,” Shiffrin said of her first run, according to The Associated Press. “I didn’t have a great feeling. I was just a bit nervous … Sometimes I don’t get that great feeling I want in the morning. I thought I had that today but it didn’t go how I want.”

Marlies Schild, who was the world’s best slalom skier before tearing right knee ligaments on Dec. 20, 2012, made her first World Cup podium since returning from the injury. The Austrian dominated like the Schild of old, coming from third place after the first run to win by .33 over Swede Frida Hansdotter.

“I never expected it before the race because I had no rhythm, no race rhythm,” said Schild, who at 32 became the oldest World Cup slalom winner ever, according to Infostrada. “My last race [win] was a long time ago [Feb. 11, 2012], over one year. It’s amazing.”

Schild’s younger sister, Bernadette, was third, her second career World Cup podium. It’s the first time sisters have been on the same World Cup podium since Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Susanne Riesch on Dec. 13, 2009, according to Infostrada.

“I’m so happy for her,” Marlies Schild said of Bernadette, who is nine years younger. “Of course I’m happy that I’m in front of her.”

Schild matched Swiss legend Vreni Schneider for the most career World Cup slalom victories with her 34th. She won Olympic silver in 2010, World Championships gold in 2011 and four of six World Cup titles from 2007 through 2012.

She came back from her knee injury for the World Championships in February and finished ninth behind Shiffrin. Schild won her first World Cup slalom on Shiffrin’s 9th birthday, March 13, 2004.

When Shiffrin made her first World Cup podium in Lienz, Austria, on Dec. 29, 2011, she blurted out to the winner Schild.

“Oh my gosh, I’m such a big fan,” Shiffrin said, according to The New York Times. “Well, I’m also on the podium with you. But I’m still a big fan.”

Shiffrin’s medal chances in her secondary event, the giant slalom, nonetheless improved, but not for the reason she would have liked.

Reigning world champion Tessa Worley suffered a torn ACL in a crash in the first run. She was taken down the slope on a stretcher and to a hospital.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup continues with a downhill and a giant slalom in Val d’Isere, France, on Saturday and Sunday.

Lindsey Vonn is expected to enter the downhill, her fourth event since returning from a major knee injury, and possibly her final race before the Olympics.

Courchevel Slalom
1. Marlies Schild (AUT) 1:45.17
2. Frida Hansdotter (SWE) 1:45.50
3. Bernadette Schild (AUT) 1:46.39
4. Kathrin Zettel (AUT) 1:46.60
5. Michaela Kirchgasser (AUT) 1:46.73
6. Marie-Michele Gagnon (CAN) 1:46.81
7. Carmen Thalmann (AUT) 1:46.89
8. Nina Loeseth (NOR) 1:46.95
9. Wendy Holdener (SUI) 1:47.05
10. Nathalie Eklund (SWE) 1:47.20
12. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) 1:47.28
21. Resi Stiegler (USA) 1:48.81

Camel carries Olympic flame during Sochi torch relay

Ryan Lochte ‘wipes away the past’ in Power Bar video

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For the second time in as many months, Ryan Lochte stars in a jocular ad making a veiled reference to his Rio Olympic gas-station incident.

The swimmer wipes away “the past” on a foggy bathroom mirror and throws a blond wig out of a sunroof in a one-minute Power Bar video published Tuesday.

The company’s tag line in the video is “Clean Start.”

“For example, I am going to recommit myself to water sports,” Lochte says in the spot.

The ad follows a December video for Pine Bros. Softish Throat Drops, where Lochte starred in a spot with a closing banner that read, “Pine Bros.: In this Season of Forgiveness.”

Lochte had previously lost sponsorship deals, including with Speedo, after his Rio Olympic gas-station incident for which he was suspended through June by USA Swimming, plus for the world championships in July.

PHOTOS: Lochte set to be a father

U.S. Figure Skating Championships men’s preview

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The stage is set for Nathan Chen in Kansas City this week.

The 17-year-old is arguably the biggest favorite of any senior discipline at the U.S. Championships, looking to become the youngest U.S. men’s champion since 1966.

Chen, who boasts six quadruple jumps between his two programs, broke out at the Grand Prix Final in December by taking a silver medal. That propelled him to the top of U.S. men’s skating.

He outscored the reigning Olympic and world champions in the free skate at the Grand Prix Final in the best U.S. men’s international performance since Evan Lysacek won Olympic gold in 2010.

Chen’s chances for gold this week were boosted by the withdrawal of 2016 U.S. champion and training partner Adam Rippon due to a broken foot. And by 2015 U.S. champion Jason Brown‘s recent right leg injury.

Brown is still in the field, though, as is 2013 U.S. champion Max Aaron. Chen, Brown and Aaron are vying for two spots on the team for the world championships in two months in Helsinki.

“Those are the very clear top three,” NBC Olympics analyst Johnny Weir said. “It’ll take a disaster or a performance of a lifetime for anybody else to get into that top three.”

Friday
Men’s short program — 8:30 p.m.-midnight ET, Universal HD
Sunday
Men’s free skate — 4-6 p.m., NBC

MORE: U.S. Championships broadcast schedule
PREVIEWS: Men | Women | Pairs | Ice Dance

Nathan Chen
Age: 17
Hometown: Salt Lake City
2016 Grand Prix Final silver medalist
2016 U.S. bronze medalist
Two-time U.S. junior and novice champion

Chen came back strong this season following the first major injury of his career suffered at least year’s nationals exhibition. Hip surgery kept Chen from making his world championships debut in 2016, but he’s now poised to lead the U.S. men into Helsinki, trying to earn three Olympic berths. First, Chen goes for his first senior national title.

Tara Lipinski’s Take: Nathan is the star of the show this year. The type of talent he has doesn’t come along every day. He possibly could be on the Olympic podium next year with the technical skating he’s giving us. Artistically, his component scores, if you look at him from last nationals to this nationals, he’s a different skater. He may not be [Olympic champion Yuzuru] Hanyu yet, but he has all the makings of a great, artistic male skater. I think he’s already giving us enough, to be honest.

Jason Brown
Age: 22
Hometown: Colorado Springs
2015 U.S. champion
Fourth at 2015 World Championships

Don’t forget that Brown was one spot off the podium at the 2015 Worlds. It’s been mostly a nightmare since for the 2014 Olympic sensation. Brown missed the 2016 U.S. Championships with a back strain and revealed last week that he was off the ice for the last two weeks of December with a stress fracture in his right fibula. Brown is the only man in this week’s field who has been within 40 points of Chen’s best total score this season.

Johnny Weir’s Take: Now that Adam Rippon is out, the artistic challenger, if he can land a quad, is Jason Brown. He’s won the national title before. He knows what it takes and what that kind of pressure feels like. That is an advantage he has over Nathan Chen. If he lands the quad and creates that artistic moment, he is very favored in the U.S. by the judging panel. He will need a quad toe loop if he’s going to hold off Nathan Chen.

Max Aaron
Age: 24
Hometown: Colorado Springs
2013 U.S. champion
2015 Skate America champion

Aaron may be the best pure athlete in the field. He has finished in the top four at nationals each of the last four years, but it’ll probably take top two this week to earn a world championships spot. He’ll likely have to beat the injured Brown.

Johnny Weir’s Take: He has great skating skills. He’s a wonderful athlete. But I don’t think his free program especially is strong enough choreographically to challenge either Nathan Chen or Jason Brown.

Grant Hochstein
Age: 26
Hometown: Artesia, Calif.
Fourth at 2016 U.S. Championships
10th at 2016 World Championships

Hochstein was placed on the 2016 World Championships team after Chen withdrew due to that hip injury. He finished a respectable 10th in his worlds debut but dropped to 11th in each of his fall Grand Prix starts. Hochstein ranks seventh this season among men in the U.S. Championships field.

Tim Dolensky
Age: 24
Hometown: Kennesaw, Ga.
Seventh at 2016 U.S. Championships

Dolensky had his best U.S. Championships finish last season and ranks behind only Chen, Brown, Rippon and Aaron among U.S. skaters’ top scores this season.

Vincent Zhou
Age: 16
Hometown: Riverside, Calif.
2013 U.S. junior champion
Fifth at 2016 World Junior Championships

Zhou would be a bigger threat if he hadn’t pulled out of his last event in December with a leg injury. Still, he has the jumping firepower, when he lands them, to contend for the podium when healthy.

MORE: Wagner, Chen share training ice, favorite status at nationals