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Mikaela Shiffrin wins 12th straight slalom, second reindeer

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Mikaela Shiffrin continued her run of historic dominance, winning her 12th straight slalom race in the World Cup discipline season opener on Saturday. She also won a reindeer.

Shiffrin, the youngest Olympic slalom champion, prevailed by .67 of a second after two runs over Swiss Wendy Holdener in Levi, Finland. Slovakia’s Petra Vhlova was third. Full results are here.

“I’m not unbeatable, I can tell you that,” 21-year-old Shiffrin said. “I think that a lot of these girls know that, and they’re shooting to be the first to beat me. Every race I have to be faster. It’s certainly not a comfortable position.”

Shiffrin has won 12 straight slaloms dating to 2015, including her last nine World Cup slaloms, the longest streak since four-time Olympic champion Janica Kostelic won 10 straight from 1999 through 2001.

However, Shiffrin missed five slaloms in the middle of last season due to a right knee injury.

“I don’t feel like [the full streak] counts because I missed half the season last year,” said Shiffrin, who won her 20th career World Cup slalom Saturday. “There were other winners. I think my streak starts after I came back from injury.”

The traditional winner’s prize in Levi is a reindeer. When Shiffrin won here in 2013, she named hers “Rudolph.” This year, she named it Sven, after the “Frozen” character.

“It would be nice to get Rudolph a buddy!” Shiffrin said earlier this week, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “No reindeer likes to be alone.”

Levi marked the second of a scheduled 37 women’s World Cup races this season. Shiffrin, who finished second to defending champion Lara Gut in the season-opening giant slalom three weeks ago, moved to the top of the World Cup overall standings on Saturday.

Shiffrin and Gut appear to be the favorites for this year’s overall title, given previous overall champions Lindsey Vonn and Anna Veith are out with injuries.

Shiffrin said she spent about half as much time as usual training slalom in the offseason, focusing an increasing amount on giant slalom and the speed events.

The men race in Levi on Sunday (4 a.m. and 7 a.m. ET, NBC Sports app; 2 p.m. ET, UniHD).

The women next race in Killington, Vt., in two weeks with a giant slalom and slalom.

ALPINE SKIING SEASON PREVIEWS: Men | Women

Yuzuru Hanyu to miss Japan Figure Skating Championships

Yuzuru Hanyu
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Yuzuru Hanyu, the reigning Olympic and world figure skating champion, will miss his national championships this week after suffering ankle and knee injuries this fall, according to Japanese media citing the Japan Skating Federation.

Hanyu can (and very likely will) be named to Japan’s three-man Olympic team despite missing nationals.

Hanyu has reportedly been off the ice for more than one month since a Nov. 9 practice fall.

“It is an important selection competition, and the Olympics are a big goal, so with that in mind we would like to think things through together,” Japan Skating Federation director Yoshiko Kobayashi said last week, according to Kyodo News.

Hanyu, who turned 23 on Dec. 7, fell on a quadruple Lutz attempted and then favored his right ankle in a Nov. 9 practice at a Grand Prix event (video here).

He skated the run-through for his free skate, although he elected not to do any more jumps.

“I have been told by the doctor that I need 10 days of complete rest,” Hanyu said in a statement on Nov. 12, according to Kyodo. “Following that, it will take three to four weeks to return and get back to where I was.”

Hanyu and world silver medalist Shoma Uno are favored to lead Japan’s Olympic men’s figure skating team. The third spot is likely to go to Takahito Mura or Keiji Tanaka.

Hanyu competed twice this season.

He posted a world-record short program score in his debut at a small September event in Canada, but struggled to fifth place in the free skate and finished second overall behind two-time world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain.

He then finished second to U.S. champion Nathan Chen at the first Grand Prix event of the season in Moscow in October.

Chen is the only undefeated male singles skater this season.

Hanyu won four straight national titles before missing last season’s event with the flu.

He was still named to Japan’s team for worlds, where he won his second title in four years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Green Bay Packers pull another Olympic sport TD celebration

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We’re halfway to a decathlon of Olympic sport touchdown celebrations over the last two seasons.

After the hurdles, the long jump, the bobsled and the relay came the race walk on Sunday.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams, once part of a three-man bobsled team, led three other teammates in a race walk after scoring in Sunday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers. (Adams later left the game with a concussion.)

Adams won the race walk, which was much, much shorter than the standard Olympic distances of 20km and 50km, over teammates Jordy NelsonRandall Cobb and Geronimo Allison.

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