Oscar Pistorius granted bail on murder charge

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After Oscar Pistorius spent more than a week in jail without bail following the shooting of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, the South African sprinter was granted bail of about $112,000 Friday on the premeditated murder charge brought against him.

Prosecutors said they considered Pistorius a flight risk, and urged the court to keep him in custody without bail. But South African Magistrate Desmond Nair said the group didn’t provide enough evidence to hold him.

“It is practically impossible for the state, within the matter of a week, to have all the pieces of the puzzle,” Nair decided. “The defense has failed to show this court that there is a weakness in the [state’s] case.

“The state cannot equally show that the state case is so strong and water tight that the applicant cannot come to the conclusion that he needs to flee and avoid the charge.”

The prosecution offered that Pistorius and Steenkamp were arguing Feb. 14, and that Pistorius knew she was in the bathroom when he shot her through the door. But Pistorius wrote in a statement Tuesday that he heard a noise in the bathroom that he thought was an intruder, grabbed his gun, and shot four times. Only after he had fired did he considered it might have been Steenkamp. He saw he had shot her, called paramedics, and carried her downstairs for help, where she died in his arms.

Pistorius openly wept in court while his statement was read, and according to his uncle Andrew, the sprinter was unable to eat for days, and had been meeting with his siblings and reading his Bible.

The trial was adjourned to June 4. The court has ordered that Pistorius relinquish his passports and firearms, stay away from his home, and abstain from drugs and alcohol. The Olympian was also told that he may not leave Pretoria without official permission.

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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