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Veronika Velez Zuzulova, top Mikaela Shiffrin rival, needs surgery

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One of Mikaela Shiffrin‘s top rivals will miss the start of the Alpine skiing season

Slovakian Veronika Velez Zuzulova, second to Shiffrin in last season’s slalom standings, is undergoing right knee surgery that will keep her out at least two months, according to her social media.

Velez Zuzulova’s unspecified injury could have otherwise kept her out six to eight months (the Olympics are in five months) if she had not chosen this particular surgery, according to the post.

Velez Zuzulova is sure to miss the first slalom of the World Cup season is Levi, Finland, on Nov. 11. She could also miss the second slalom in Killington, Vt., on Nov. 26.

Velez Zuzulova, 33, revealed last week that she hurt her knee in preseason training in Argentina.

She won three World Cup slaloms between the last two seasons. Only Shiffrin, with 12 victories, has more.

Velez Zuzulova finished second in the World Cup slalom season standings in 2016 (to Swede Frida Hansdotter; Shiffrin missed much of the season with a knee injury) and in 2017 (to Shiffrin, a massive 275 points behind).

Velez Zuzulova, an Olympian in 2002, 2006 and 2010, missed the 2014 Sochi Winter Games after tearing her left ACL in October 2013.

Shiffrin’s biggest slalom rivals to start the season should be world silver medalist Wendy Holdener of Switzerland, plus another Slovakian, Petra Vlhova, and Hansdotter.

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MORE: Mikaela Shiffrin’s best season also brought the most anxiety

Top Mikaela Shiffrin rival on crutches

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Slovakian Veronika Velez Zuzulova, the second-best slalom skier to Mikaela Shiffrin last season, is on crutches one month before the start of the Olympic season.

She is out indefinitely with a knee injury while in Argentina for training on Sunday, according to Slovakian media. The Slovakian Ski Association has not responded to a request for comment.

Zuzulova, 33, won three World Cup slaloms between the last two seasons. Only Shiffrin, with 12 victories, has more.

Zuzulova finished second in the World Cup slalom season standings in 2016 (to Swede Frida Hansdotter; Shiffrin missed much of the season with a knee injury) and in 2017 (to Shiffrin, a massive 275 points behind).

Zuzulova, an Olympian in 2002, 2006 and 2010, missed the 2014 Sochi Winter Games after tearing her left ACL in October 2013.

The first World Cup slalom this season is Nov. 12 in Levi, Finland.

If Zuzulova is out, Shiffrin’s biggest rivals should be world silver medalist Wendy Holdener of Switzerland, plus another Slovakian, Petra Vlhova, and Hansdotter.

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MORE: Mikaela Shiffrin’s best season also brought the most anxiety

Olympic race-walking champion suspended

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MONACO (AP) — The reigning Olympic and world champion in the men’s 50km race-walk, Matej Toth, has been suspended over an alleged breach of anti-doping rules.

The IAAF’s Athletics Integrity Unit said Sunday that the Slovakian was provisionally suspended due to irregularities in his biological passport, which tracks blood data over time for signs of drug use. He faces a potential four-year ban.

The AIU confirmed Toth remains suspended “pending the outcome of his case, adding: “As is normal process, and in order to protect the integrity of the case, the AIU will refrain from further comment until a final decision has been made.”

If Toth is found guilty, it would be a heavy blow to race-walking, which is already reeling from a string of doping bans for Russian walkers who dominated major championships for many years.

Toth has previously spoken out against doping and backed the Russian team being barred from last year’s Olympics.

He had been due to compete next month at the world championships in London.

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