Mikaela Shiffrin extends historic slalom winning streak

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Make it three wins in three days for Mikaela Shiffrin, and 15 wins in her last 15 slalom starts. Oh yeah, she’s sick, too.

The world’s hottest skier topped the World Cup field in Semmering, Austria, by .64 of a second over two runs on Thursday. The Sochi Olympic slalom champion followed up giant slalom victories on Tuesday and Wednesday in Semmering.

Slovakian Veronika Velez Zuzulova was second, followed by Swiss Wendy Holdener. Shiffrin led Zuzulova by .09 after the first run but had fallen .33 behind the Slovak in the second before making up nearly a second in the final 20 seconds of the course.

“Every gate I thought I was giving it away, but I was starting to fight,” she said.

Shiffrin had screamed after recent victories, but this time she put her glove to her mouth in apparent disbelief. Shiffrin called Thursday’s win her toughest of the this week’s triple.

“The past races, it’s been mostly nerves when I get to the start, but I don’t know what’s happening and all of a sudden I feel really, really sick,” she said. “Today, actually, I am sick. And the past two days I’ve been sick. So I wasn’t sure if I was sick like I have the flu or if I was sick because of nerves. It was a weird thing today. I was OK for my run, for the second half of my run, so it’s good.”

RESULTS | RUN 2 REPLAY

Shiffrin has now won her last 15 slalom starts, including her last 12 World Cup slalom starts, the longest women’s streak in any World Cup discipline in history. Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell won 11 straight downhills from 1972-74. Shiffrin also bagged a world title and two national titles during her unbeaten run.

A caveat: Shiffrin missed five World Cup slaloms last season due to a knee injury. Since that absence, Shiffrin has won seven straight World Cup slaloms, which is one shy of the consecutive slaloms record shared by Croatian Janica Kostelic and Swiss Vreni Schneider.

Shiffrin can match those legends in the next World Cup race, a slalom in Zagreb on Tuesday (NBCSN and NBCSports.com/live, 10 a.m. ET). Shiffrin won the last two times the Zagreb race was held in 2013 and 2015.

Big picture, Shiffrin boosted her World Cup overall standings lead to 215 points over Swiss Lara Gut through 15 of a scheduled 37 races. She has six wins this season, the most by one skier in a campaign before New Year’s Day since Bode Miller in 2004.

Shiffrin has downplayed talk of going for the overall title — she even skipped speed races earlier this month — but she could become the third U.S. woman to take the biggest annual crown in ski racing (Tamara McKinneyLindsey Vonn).

MORE: Bode Miller plans to race next season, U.S. coach says

Katie Ledecky wins by 19 seconds, breaks world swimming titles record

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Katie Ledecky convincingly broke the female record for swimming world titles.

But Lilly King tasted even sweeter victory, breaking a world record and dominating rival Yulia Efimova at the world championships in Budapest on Tuesday. Video of that showdown is here.

Ledecky clocked 15:31.82 to win the 1500m freestyle by a whopping 19 seconds at the Danube Arena, her 12th career world gold. Spain’s Mireia Belmonte took silver, followed by Italian Simona Quadarella. Ledecky owns the world record of 15:25.48 and the seven fastest times in history.

Ledecky, a 20-year-old rising Stanford sophomore, broke her tie with Missy Franklin for the most career world titles by a woman. The overall record is held by Michael Phelps, who won 26.

Fifty minutes after her 1500m free, Ledecky won her 200m free semifinal to make Wednesday’s final.

“It’s hard 364 of the other days of the year,” Ledecky said. “It’s putting in the work in practice, so that when I get to this day of the meet, I can just do it. It’s routine. I can just get up and know that I have the work in the bank to get up and swim those times.”

Ledecky has three gold medals so far this week, en route to a possible six, which would tie Franklin’s female record for golds at a single worlds.

In other events Tuesday, Lilly King handed Russian rival Yulia Efimova another beating in the 100m breast. This time, the finger-wagging King broke the world record.

Kylie Masse became the first Canadian woman to win a world swimming title after the nation previously took 18 combined silver and bronze medals. Masse broke the longest-standing women’s world record in swimming, the 100m backstroke, which had stood since 2009, with a time of 58.10.

American Kathleen Baker took silver in 58.58, followed by defending world champion Emily Seebohm of Australia.

China’s Sun Yang bagged his ninth career world title with his first crown in the 200m freestyle in 1:44.39. American Townley Haas took silver, .65 behind, followed by Russian Aleksandr Krasnykh.

In Rio, Sun became the first swimmer to win Olympic titles in the 200m, 400m and 1500m frees. Now, he’s the first man to complete the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m free set at worlds. Ledecky recorded that feat at a single worlds in 2015.

Canadian Xu Jiayu followed his Olympic silver medal with a gold in the 100m backstroke, edging 2012 Olympic champion Matt Grevers by .04. Rio gold medalist Ryan Murphy earned bronze.

Great Britain’s Adam Peaty broke his 50m breaststroke world record twice on Tuesday, in the preliminary heats and the semifinals. Peaty lowered the mark from 26.42 to 25.95 in the non-Olympic event.

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Lilly King beats Yulia Efimova again, breaks world record (video)

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Lilly King stared toward Yulia Efimova before the race. She glanced at her afterward.

In between, King handed her Russian rival another beating, this time in world-record fashion at the world championships in Budapest on Tuesday.

King won the 100m breaststroke in 1:04.13 to back up her finger-wagging Olympic 100m breast title with her first world title.

Countrywoman Katie Meili earned silver in 1:05.03, followed by Efimova getting bronze in 1:05.05.

“The rivalry is definitely there. I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon,” King said, according to The Associated Press. “Obviously, it’s very awkward between the two of us. We’re competitors. We don’t really like each other too much.”

King smashed the previous record of 1:04.35 held by Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte, but she didn’t exactly feel confident Tuesday afternoon.

“I was actually, like really freaking out when I got to the pool,” King told media in Budapest. “I was like very nervous. Then I got in for warm-up, and I felt a lot better. I was feeling very confident going into the race.”

Once on the pool deck, King looked very much the trash-talking Indiana Hoosier who in Rio said Efimova shouldn’t be allowed to compete for previously failing two drug tests.

After introductions Tuesday, King stood staring at the lane next to her, where Efimova happened to be. Efimova did not appear to reciprocate.

“It’s always going to be a showdown,” King said, noting how impressed she was by Efimova’s semifinal swim Monday, when the Russian missed the world record by .01 and finger-wagged after.

King smirked, got up on her block and swam the fastest first 50 meters by a half-second over Efimova.

As Efimova faded in the last 25 meters, King surged to the wall. She turned around, saw the scoreboard and slammed her right arm into the pool.

Then she looked ever so briefly toward Efimova’s lane, turned back and raised both of her arms in the air.

Efimova said afterward that last year’s loss hurt more, according to the AP.

“There’s still pressure from the media, but it’s more fun,” Efimova reportedly said. “The Olympic Games were the worst.”

King and Efimova are slated to go head to head again in finals of the 200m breaststroke (Friday) and 50m breaststroke (Sunday). They are ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in both events this year.

Women’s 100m Breaststroke Results
Gold: Lilly King (USA) — 1:04.13

Silver: Katie Meili (USA) — 1:05:03
Bronze: Yulia Efimova (RUS) — 1:05.05
4. Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) — 1:05.65
5. Shi Jinglin (CHN) — 1:06.43
6. Kierra Smith (CAN) — 1:06.90
7. Jessica Vall (ESP) — 1:06.95
8. Sarah Vasey (GBR) — 1:07.19

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