Duel in the Pool - Previews

Tyler Clary’s plan: swim to Rio, drive to NASCAR

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Tyler Clary, the reigning Olympic champion in the 200m backstroke, proved on Tuesday that he can go fast outside of the pool, too. Clary participated in a semi-pro stock car race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Racing a Legends car, which can reach speeds of up to 100 mph, Clary finished 15th after a car ahead of him flipped.

This was Clary’s first competitive stock car race, but the 25-year-old has long been drawn to the track. According to the Charlotte Observer, when Clary was growing up in California he raised money for his swim team by working in the merchandise booth at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.

A member of SwimMAC Carolina, Clary is committed to balancing his training for the 2016 Rio Olympics with his long-term plan for a NASCAR career.

He told USA Today:

I’m here because I’m serious about it and I want this to be my next career. I’m not joking around about it. It’s not a publicity stunt. I mean everything about what I’m doing.

Clary intends to continue racing in the weekly Summer Shootout series, with the eventual goal of reaching the Sprint Cup series.

He already has two high-profile supporters: a sponsor, Fusion Jerky, and a mentor, Jimmie Johnson. The winner of six NASCAR Cup Series, Johnson has swapped driving advice for swimming tips from Clary.

Clary sees similarities between a winning race strategy in the pool and on the track. “NASCAR is a game of margins, and you’re always trying to push that margin a little bit further to see if you can have even the smallest edge over your opponent,” he told the Charlotte Observer. “That’s really something that is hammered into our heads as swimmers every single day. We are constantly looking for that edge.”

Clary’s SwimMAC teammates, including Ryan Lochte, came out to the racetrack to support him. The two swimmers took a photo with Clary’s Legends car.

Mikaela Shiffrin wrestles with doubt in seconds before World Cup downhill debut

Mikaela Shiffrin, of the United States, skis during the third training run for the World Cup women's downhill ski race in Lake Louise, Alberta, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)
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After a momentary panic in the start house, Mikaela Shiffrin raced to a tie for 18th in the first downhill of her World Cup career in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Shiffrin, the youngest Olympic slalom champion who has also won a World Cup giant slalom, has been slowly adding the speed events of super-G and downhill to her repertoire the last two seasons.

“It wasn’t bad,” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com. “I certainly didn’t risk anything crazy.”

Her result Friday, 1.99 seconds behind Slovenian winner Ilka Stuhec, came after Shiffrin was 18th, 24th and 30th fastest in downhill training runs the previous three days. Shiffrin also had to wait several minutes in the start house as the racer before her crashed (video here).

“That was just a bummer,” Shiffrin said, according to the Denver Post. “I was like, ‘Just don’t let it affect you,’ but being up there for 10 minutes, like, ‘What happened? What’s taking them so long? What’s going on? Is she hurt?’

“Then I started doubting myself, like my technique going off the jumps, which is actually pretty good. I was going back and forth between, ‘Should I even be doing this? Maybe I just should pull out because I don’t want to kill myself.’ Then I’m like, ‘You’re absolutely fine, you haven’t felt sketched out a single time on this track in the past three days, so stick with that. You don’t have to go crazy.'”

“To be fast in speed there certainly needs to be a certain level of risk, and I know that, but now, if [giant slalom] and slalom are my main priority this season, I don’t need to be going crazy in a downhill with flat light and after I got iced [waiting so long],” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com.

Stuhec won Friday’s race by .22 of a second over Italian Sofia Goggia. Swede Kajsa Kling was third.

A race replay can be seen here. Full results are here.

Lindsey Vonn, owner of a record 18 wins at Lake Louise, is missing the annual World Cup stop in Alberta due to a broken arm from a November crash. Vonn had raced at Lake Louise each of the previous 15 seasons.

Last season, Shiffrin made her World Cup debut in the super-G at Lake Louise and finished 15th.

The women have another downhill Saturday and a super-G on Sunday in Lake Louise, both streaming live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app (schedule here).

MORE: Vonn eyes January return from her most painful injury

High-speed crash at World Cup downhill in Lake Louise (video)

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Swiss Joana Haehlen crashed into netting at high speed during a World Cup downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Haehlen, 24, lost her right ski after landing from a jump and sped uncontrollably off course. She braced for impact, slammed into red netting and was turned around before landing with neither of her skis still attached.

She lay on the snow while being attended to and eventually skied down the mountain on her own.

It caused a 10-minute delay before the next skier, American Mikaela Shiffrin, could take her run.

VIDEO: Vonn details the most painful injury of her career