Missy Franklin wins Sportswoman of the Year, talks college life, swimming future

Missy Franklin
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Make room for another award, Missy Franklin.

Franklin, with 16 Olympic and World Championship medals the last three years, won the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Sportswoman of the Year for an individual sport, presented in New York on Wednesday night.

“This is one of the most incredible honors I have ever received,” Franklin told ESPN.com. “I mean, to be a part of this night, let alone to receive an award from it means the world to me.”

Franklin, 18, who won a female record six gold medals at the World Championships in August, beat out finalists Mao Asada (figure skating), Kelly Clark (snowboarding), Tina Maze (Alpine skiing), Tatyana McFadden (track and field), Inbee Park (golf), Jenn Suhr (track and field) and Serena Williams (tennis).

Two-time Olympic champion Candace Parker won the team sport award. The Billie Jean King Contribution Award went to Parker’s WNBA. The Wilma Rudolph Courage Award went to Paralympic swimmer and triathlete Melissa Stockwell. The Annika Inspiration Award went to tennis player Vivian Hao.

Franklin, a freshman at California, took a redeye flight to New York for the event after finishing midterm exams, according to The Associated Press.

Franklin swam eight events at the World Championships (scratching out of the 50 backstroke after prelims) and was asked by the AP if she could try for eight at the Rio Olympics. Michael Phelps won a record eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“I’m definitely not looking to add events right now, but I think we’ll see what happens,” she said.

Franklin also talked about coming in second place in some of her first college races and experiencing her first earthquake to the AP and The New York Times.

She told the Times she has a double major — “undecided and undeclared” — but told both outlets choosing Cal over going pro and passing up millions of endorsement dollars was the best decision she’s ever made.

She was recently in her dorm room when a 3.1-magnitude earthquake centered two miles from the Berkeley campus struck.

“We looked at each other like, ‘Uh, was that an earthquake?’” Franklin said, according to the Times. “Then we heard everyone coming out of their rooms and screaming in the hallway, and we were like, ‘Yeaaah!’”

At her first meet, a fellow simmer said he had a psychology class with Franklin, where people came up outside the classroom doors to ask for autographs and pictures.

There have also been slightly more ordinary college experiences, such as a Cal tradition for freshman swimmers:

And homesickness.

“I call my mom at least once every single day,” she said on the red carpet before Wednesday’s event. “That’s all me. That’s not even her. I just like to call her when I’m walking back from class to say hi. We try and Skype and FaceTime at least every couple of days, so I can see my puppy (Ruger, an Alaskan malamute).”

What’s next for Franklin? Not Duel in the Pool. The once-every-two-years Ryder Cup-like swimming event will be in Glasgow, Scotland, Dec. 20-21. Cal’s fall semester ends Dec. 20.

“For freshman year with finals and everything going on, it may not be the best time for an international trip,” she said. “But I would love to in the future, and I was honored to be asked. The timing didn’t work out too well this time.”

Past Sportswoman of the Year (individual sport) winners
Gabby Douglas (2012)
Yani Tseng
Yuna Kim
Courtney Kupets
Nastia Liukin
Lorena Ochoa
Melanie Troxel
Erin Popovich
Annika Sorenstam
Natalie Coughlin
Sarah Hughes
Stacy Dragila
Jenny Thompson
Juli Inkster
Michelle Kwan
Gail Devers
Amy Van Dyken
Bonnie Blair
Bonnie Blair
Julie Krone

Ryan Lochte swims with Diana Nyad

Mikaela Shiffrin, three gates from gold, skis out of world championships combined

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Mikaela Shiffrin was three gates from a record-tying seventh world championships gold medal when she lost her balance and straddled a gate, skiing out of the first race of worlds on Monday.

Italian Federica Brignone won the women’s combined instead, prevailing by 1.62 seconds over Swiss Wendy Holdener, the largest Olympic or world championships men’s or women’s margin of victory in the event since it switched from three runs to two in 2007.

Austrian Ricarda Haaser took bronze in an event that is one run of super-G followed by one run of slalom.

At 32, Brignone, the 2020 World Cup overall champion, won her first global title and became the oldest female world champion in any event.

“What was missing in my career was a gold medal,” she said. “So I’m old. No, I’m just kidding.”

ALPINE WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Shiffrin was sixth fastest in the opening super-G run, 96 hundredths behind Brignone. She skied aggressively in the slalom in a bid to beat Brignone. Shiffrin cut the gap to eight hundredths by the last intermediate split with about 10 seconds left on the course in Meribel, France.

Shiffrin looked set to overtake Brignone until tripping up slightly with five gates left. It compounded, and Shiffrin couldn’t save the run, losing control, straddling the third-to-last gate and skiing out. The timing system still registered her finish — 34 hundredths faster than Brignone — but it was quickly corrected to the obvious disqualification.

Asked on French TV if she lost focus, Shiffrin said, “People are going to say that no matter what.”

“The surface changed a little bit on these last gates, so [on pre-race] inspection I saw it’s a bit more unstable on the snow,” she added. “I tried to be aware of that, but I knew that if I had a chance to make up nine tenths on Federica, or more than that, like one second, I had to push like crazy. So I did, and I had a very good run. I’m really happy with my skiing.”

It marked Shiffrin’s first time skiing out since she did so in three races at last February’s Olympics, where her best individual finish was ninth in five races.

“What she did at the Olympics versus what she did in this run, two completely different things,” NBC Sports analyst Steve Porino said on the Peacock broadcast, adding that it was “an error of aggression.” “It certainly wasn’t nerves that sent her out. This was Shiffrin knowing that she had to have a huge run to get the gold medal.

“The way she went out this time, I think she can brush that one off.”

Shiffrin was bidding to tie the modern-era records for individual world championships gold medals (seven) and total medals (12). Coming into Monday, she earned a medal in her last 10 world championships races dating to 2015.

Her next chance to match those records comes in Wednesday’s super-G, where she is a medal contender. Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel is the world’s top-ranked super-G skier through five races on the World Cup this season, though she was 71 hundredths behind Brignone in Monday’s super-G run.

Shiffrin has raced two super-Gs this season with a win and a seventh place.

She is expected to race three more times over the two-week worlds, which is separate from the World Cup circuit that she has torn up this season.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup wins in 23 starts across all disciplines since November, moving her one shy of the career victories record of 86 accumulated by Swede Ingemar Stenmark in the 1970s and ’80s. Again, world championships races do not count toward the World Cup, which picks back up after worlds end in late February.

Worlds continue Tuesday with the men’s combined.

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2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships results

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Top 10 and notable results from the 2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships in Meribel and Courchevel, France …

Women’s Combined
Gold: Federica Brignone (ITA) — 1:57.47
Silver: Wendy Holdener (SUI) — +1.62
Bronze: Ricarda Haaser (AUT) — +2.26
4. Ramona Siebenhofer (AUT) — +2.48
5. Franziska Gritsch (AUT) — +2.71
6. Michelle Gisin (SUI) — +3.43
7. Laura Gauche (FRA) — +3.71
8. Emma Aicher (GER) — +3.78
9. Elena Curtoni (ITA) — +4.05
10. Marie-Michele Gagnon (CAN) — +4.91
13. Bella Wright (USA) — +6.21
DQ (slalom). Mikaela Shiffrin (USA)
DNS (slalom). Lara Gut-Behrami (SUI)
DNS (slalom). Ragnhild Mowinckel (NOR)
DNS (slalom). Sofia Goggia (ITA)
DNF (super-G). Marta Bassino (ITA)
DNF (super-G). Breezy Johnson (USA)
DNF (super-G). Tricia Mangan (USA)

Men’s Combined (Feb. 7)
Women’s Super-G (Feb. 8)
Men’s Super-G (Feb. 9)
Women’s Downhill (Feb. 11)
Men’s Downhill (Feb. 12)
Team Parallel (Feb. 14)
Men’s Parallel (Feb. 15)
Women’s Parallel (Feb. 15)
Women’s Giant Slalom (Feb. 16)
Men’s Giant Slalom (Feb. 17)
Women’s Slalom (Feb. 18)
Men’s Slalom (Feb. 19)

ALPINE WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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