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Mikaela Shiffrin is fifth American to win World Cup overall title

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Mikaela Shiffrin is all set to become the World Cup overall champion.

The 22-year-old American will bag the biggest annual prize in ski racing after Slovenian Ilka Stuhec, the only other skier mathematically in the running, reportedly said she will not enter Saturday’s slalom at the World Cup Finals in Aspen, Colo., (broadcast schedule here). It will become official when the start list is out later Friday.

Stuhec had a miniscule chance of overtaking Shiffrin, needing to win both Saturday’s slalom and Sunday’s giant slalom and for Shiffrin to finish outside the top 15 in both races. Stuhec does not typically race slaloms.

Shiffrin became the fifth American to take the overall title, awarded since 1967 to the male and female skiers who accumulate the most points across all races in the World Cup season.

She joins Phil Mahre (1981-83), Tamara McKinney (1983), Bode Miller (2005, 2008) and Lindsey Vonn (2008-10, 2012) in bringing the crystal globe back to the U.S.

Shiffrin is also the youngest male or female overall champion since Croatian Janica Kostelic in 2003.

She clinched with two races left in a 37-race season, but it was wrapped up for all intents and purposes on Feb. 10. On that day, Swiss Lara Gut, the defending World Cup overall champion, tore an ACL in a warm-up at the world championships.

Gut was 180 points behind Shiffrin at the time, significant, but the remaining World Cup schedule favored Gut’s speed events to Shiffrin’s technical events.

With Gut out, Shiffrin cruised to the title by winning three of her next four World Cup races. She’s now at 11 wins this season, most by any man or woman, and could finish with 13 if she bags Saturday’s slalom and Sunday’s giant slalom in Aspen.

Thirteen victories would tie Shiffrin for second all-time in one season by a man or woman. It would also give her 33 career World Cup wins, matching Bode Miller for second all-time among Americans behind Vonn, who has 77.

It has been quite the rise for Shiffrin since she captured gold in Sochi. She became more dominant in slalom, began winning in giant slalom and super combined and is now a podium threat in the scattered super-Gs that she starts.

It all sets up for Shiffrin to go into the Olympic season with the chance to become the first U.S. woman to win three gold medals at a single Winter Olympics.

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Yulia Efimova wags finger as Lilly King rivalry heats up (video)

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The Lilly KingYulia Efimova rivalry is back on, but this time the Russian is wagging her finger.

Efimova missed the 100m breaststroke world record by .01 in the semifinals at the world swimming championships in Budapest on Monday.

Efimova celebrated her time by finger wagging, an homage to King’s famous move in the ready room at the Rio Olympics.  She and King will go head to head in the final as the top two seeds on Tuesday after King won her later semifinal in a personal-best time .17 slower than Efimova.

“I’m always looking at the results from the heat before,” King told media in Budapest, adding that she wasn’t shaved for Monday’s semifinals. “I saw a little finger wag. I saw it. It’s just motivating me more, so that’s OK.”

King, who criticized Efimova’s presence in Rio after serving a doping ban, beat the Russian in the Olympic 100m breaststroke final last year.

Efimova served a 16-month ban for testing positive for the banned steroid DHEA in 2013. She again tested positive in February 2016 for meldonium, though she said she stopped taking it before it became a banned substance Jan. 1 and was absolved along with other athletes.

“You’ve been caught for drug cheating, I’m just not a fan,” King memorably said in Rio, adding last fall, “[Doping] was on all of our minds. We had team meetings talking about what it was going to be like. We were going to be racing dopers, and we all knew it.”

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Katinka Hosszu wins 200m IM as swimmer leaves pool mid-race (video)

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Hungarian Katinka Hosszu delivered the gold-medal performance a raucous Budapest crowd hoped for at the world swimming championships.

Canadian Sydney Pickrem, a medal favorite, appeared to get out of the pool after 50 meters. Swimming Canada later said she “took on water” approaching the first wall.

“Unfortunately it inhibited her to the point where she wasn’t able to continue in the race,” a press release said.

Hosszu won her third straight world title in the 200m individual medley, clocking 2:07.00 at the Danube Arena. The Olympic champion and world-record holder was followed by Japan’s Yui Ohashi (2:07.91) and American Madisyn Cox (2:09.71).

Hosszu was the overwhelming favorite, given she held the three fastest times in the world this year going into Monday’s final. She became the first woman to win 10 individual world championships medals, a mark that Sarah SjostromKatie Ledecky and Yulia Efimova can surpass later in the meet. Retired Australian Leisel Jones won nine, all in breaststroke.

Hosszu scratched her other event Monday night, the 100m backstroke, one of three events she won at the Rio Olympics. Hosszu could earn medals in the 200m backstroke and 400m individual medley later this week.

Pickrem ranked No. 3 in the world this year and had the third-fastest time in the semifinals behind Hosszu and American Melanie Margalis, who finished fourth.

“Just another stepping stone,” said Cox, who finished her University of Texas career this year and made her major international debut in Budapest. “Of course, I want to be better. That time will come.”

Women’s 200m Individual Medley Results
Gold: Katinka Hosszu (HUN) — 2:07.00
Silver: Yui Ohashi (JPN) — 2:07.91
Bronze: Madisyn Cox (USA) — 2:09.71
4. Melanie Margalis (USA) — 2:09.82
5. Runa Imai (JPN) — 2:09.99
6. Kim Seoyeong (KOR) — 2:10.40
7. Siobhan-Marie O’Connor (GBR) — 2:10.41
DQ. Sydney Pickrem (CAN)

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