Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin wins World Cup slalom under the lights

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Mikaela Shiffrin reinforced her Olympic favorite status by winning her second straight World Cup slalom event and third this season in Flachau, Austria, on Tuesday night.

Shiffrin, 18, conquered the course in a two-run time of 1 minute, 45.83 seconds, beating Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter by .83. Another Swede, Maria Pietilae-Holmner, was third.

Shiffrin led by a comfortable .90 after the first run in the early evening.

“The first run I really let it go and gave myself a little bit of a cushion for the second run,” said Shiffrin, now a seven-time World Cup race winner and $59,000 richer. “But second run I had a couple moves where I kind of hit the rut. I was like, ‘No, just stay the course!’ So I’m really psyched.”

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup continues with a downhill and a super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, on Saturday and Sunday. The last slalom before the Olympics is in Maribor, Slovenia, on Feb. 2, five days before the Opening Ceremony.

“It’s nice to sing my national anthem a couple of races before the Olympics,” Shiffrin said. “Hopefully, I can keep it going.”

Shiffrin’s gold medal hopes wavered in late December, when Austrian Marlies Schild won two straight World Cup slaloms.

The Austrian Schild was fourth after the first run Tuesday and fell in her second run to finish 26th.

Schild, 32, owns the record for most career World Cup slalom wins and won the World Cup season title four times in six years before suffering a major right knee injury in December 2012.

Shiffrin, who lists Schild as an idol, took the reins from Schild and won the World Championship in February.

The American is guaranteed to be leading the World Cup slalom standings going into the Olympics no matter the results in Maribor.

“If I’m a medal contender, then that just means that I’m going to try to contend for a medal,” Shiffrin said. “When my nana tells me that my ski racing is keeping her alive, I think that’s more pressure than any race.”

Flachau Slalom
1. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) 1:45.83
2. Frida Hansdotter (SWE) 1:46.66
3. Maria Pietilae-Holmner (SWE) 1:46.97
4. Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) 1:47.23
5. Michaela Kirchgasser (AUT) 1:47.38
6. Nicole Hosp (AUT) 1:47.82
7. Nina Loeseth (NOR) 1:47.98
8. Kathrin Zettel (AUT) 1:47.99
8. Wendy Holdener (AUT) 1:47.99
10. Marie-Michele Gagnon (CAN) 1:48.01

Biathlete gives up spot on Olympic Team to twin sister

Simone Biles welcomed home with cheerleaders, band, police escort (video)

Simone Biles
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The celebration began the moment Simone Biles walked into Bush Airport in Houston on Wednesday.

Biles, after winning four gold medals at the Rio Olympics, arrived in her home state of Texas to the sounds of a band, sights of Houston Texans cheerleaders and much more.

Mayor Sylvester Turner declared Wednesday to be “Simone Biles Day” in Houston, handing the gymnast a paper proclamation.

“Hi guys, I’m Simone Biles, and I can’t thank everyone [enough] in all of Houston for coming out to see me today and to welcome me from Rio,” she said, laughing, on a podium at the airport. “I don’t know what else to say, I’m nervous, and I love you guys.”

Later, Biles was given a parade in her hometown of Spring, a Houston suburb, with a police escort.

Biles and the Final Five’s first stop on the way home from Rio was New York, where they went on a media tour earlier this week. They reached the top of the Empire State Building, visited Jimmy Fallon and saw “Hamilton.”

The Final Five will reunite for a USA Gymnastics tour of 36 cities, beginning Sept. 15.

MORE: Home videos of Simone Biles doing gymnastics

Gwen Jorgensen the latest Olympic triathlon star to move up to marathon

Gwen Jorgensen
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When Olympic triathlon champion Gwen Jorgensen lines up for her first 26.2-mile race at the New York City Marathon on Nov. 6, it will be hard to judge her performance.

Perhaps the best measure will be her time versus those of previous Olympic triathlon medalists in their marathon debuts.

Jorgensen is recognized as the greatest female runner among top-level female triathletes, perhaps of all time, with an ability to make up deficits of more than one minute on the 10km run after swimming 1,500 meters and biking 40 kilometers.

Swiss Nicola Spirig, the 2012 Olympic triathlon gold medalist, made her marathon debut in 2014 in 2:42:53. Sprig, though, had more long-distance racing experience than Jorgensen, including a half marathon.

Jorgensen, 30 and a former University of Wisconsin distance runner and swimmer, has never tackled more than 10 miles in training, according to The New York Times.

“When you ask athletes what they want to do after they win gold or the Super Bowl, they say they want to go to the happiest place on earth,” Jorgensen said, according to the newspaper. “Running is my happiest place. It’s my Disneyland.”

Portugal’s Vanessa Fernandes shared triathlon’s longest top-level international winning streak before Jorgensen strung together 13 wins in a row.

Fernandes, the 2008 Olympic triathlon silver medalist, clocked 2:31:25 in her first marathon, but it came in 2015, four years after her last elite international triathlon.

The 2015 New York City Marathon women’s winning time was 2:24:25 by Kenyan Mary Keitany. The top American, Laura Thweatt, ran 2:28:23.

This year’s American field may be stronger, with Olympic track distance runners Molly Huddle and Kim Conley making their marathon debuts.

Other Olympic triathlon medalists, including 2004 gold medalist Kate Allen and 2000 silver medalist Michellie Jones, have moved up to the Ironman — a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon.

In 2014, Jorgensen said she didn’t see herself ever doing an Ironman.

MORE: What Jorgensen asked Ironman star Mirinda Carfrae