Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin struggles in Courchevel slalom; Marlies Schild wins

Leave a comment

Mikaela Shiffrin has strong competition in the slalom after all.

The American teen posted her lowest World Cup slalom finish in 10 races, while one of her idols won for the first time since returning from major injury in Courchevel, France, on Tuesday.

Shiffrin, 18 and the reigning world and World Cup champion in the event, finished 12th in a two-run time of 1 minute, 47.28 seconds.

“Mikaela wasn’t able to get the battery charged and that happens,” U.S. coach Roland Pfeifer said, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “She really had a bad day today and that’s probably not the last time that’s going to happen. We just need to accept that the other athletes were skiing better today.”

Shiffrin was coming off skiing out of a giant slalom Sunday. On Tuesday, her first of two runs put her in seventh place, .90 of a second behind. That made it unlikely Shiffrin could win her third straight World Cup slalom dating to last season.

“Not my best run,” Shiffrin said of her first run, according to The Associated Press. “I didn’t have a great feeling. I was just a bit nervous … Sometimes I don’t get that great feeling I want in the morning. I thought I had that today but it didn’t go how I want.”

Marlies Schild, who was the world’s best slalom skier before tearing right knee ligaments on Dec. 20, 2012, made her first World Cup podium since returning from the injury. The Austrian dominated like the Schild of old, coming from third place after the first run to win by .33 over Swede Frida Hansdotter.

“I never expected it before the race because I had no rhythm, no race rhythm,” said Schild, who at 32 became the oldest World Cup slalom winner ever, according to Infostrada. “My last race [win] was a long time ago [Feb. 11, 2012], over one year. It’s amazing.”

Schild’s younger sister, Bernadette, was third, her second career World Cup podium. It’s the first time sisters have been on the same World Cup podium since Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Susanne Riesch on Dec. 13, 2009, according to Infostrada.

“I’m so happy for her,” Marlies Schild said of Bernadette, who is nine years younger. “Of course I’m happy that I’m in front of her.”

Schild matched Swiss legend Vreni Schneider for the most career World Cup slalom victories with her 34th. She won Olympic silver in 2010, World Championships gold in 2011 and four of six World Cup titles from 2007 through 2012.

She came back from her knee injury for the World Championships in February and finished ninth behind Shiffrin. Schild won her first World Cup slalom on Shiffrin’s 9th birthday, March 13, 2004.

When Shiffrin made her first World Cup podium in Lienz, Austria, on Dec. 29, 2011, she blurted out to the winner Schild.

“Oh my gosh, I’m such a big fan,” Shiffrin said, according to The New York Times. “Well, I’m also on the podium with you. But I’m still a big fan.”

Shiffrin’s medal chances in her secondary event, the giant slalom, nonetheless improved, but not for the reason she would have liked.

Reigning world champion Tessa Worley suffered a torn ACL in a crash in the first run. She was taken down the slope on a stretcher and to a hospital.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup continues with a downhill and a giant slalom in Val d’Isere, France, on Saturday and Sunday.

Lindsey Vonn is expected to enter the downhill, her fourth event since returning from a major knee injury, and possibly her final race before the Olympics.

Courchevel Slalom
1. Marlies Schild (AUT) 1:45.17
2. Frida Hansdotter (SWE) 1:45.50
3. Bernadette Schild (AUT) 1:46.39
4. Kathrin Zettel (AUT) 1:46.60
5. Michaela Kirchgasser (AUT) 1:46.73
6. Marie-Michele Gagnon (CAN) 1:46.81
7. Carmen Thalmann (AUT) 1:46.89
8. Nina Loeseth (NOR) 1:46.95
9. Wendy Holdener (SUI) 1:47.05
10. Nathalie Eklund (SWE) 1:47.20
12. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) 1:47.28
21. Resi Stiegler (USA) 1:48.81

Camel carries Olympic flame during Sochi torch relay

Coco Gauff eliminated from Australian Open by Sofia Kenin

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Coco Gauff‘s run at the Australian Open ended in the round of 16, foiled by fellow American Sofia Kenin on Sunday.

Kenin ousted the 15-year-old phenom 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-0 to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal. Gauff, too, was bidding for her first major quarterfinal after a sterling seven months ignited by her march to the Wimbledon fourth round.

Gauff, ranked No. 684 this time last year, will near the top 50 after the Australian Open. She beat Venus Williams in the first round at Wimbledon and the Australian Open and took out defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka in the third round on Friday.

Gauff’s play catapulted her to fifth in U.S. Olympic singles qualifying, but she has half the points as fourth-place Madison Keys, and a country can’t qualify more than four players in singles. The Olympic field will be determined by the WTA rankings after the French Open in June.

The 14th seed Kenin, who beat Serena Williams in the 2019 French Open third round, ranks second behind Williams in U.S. Olympic qualifying. She will face No. 27 Wang Qiang or Ons Jabeur in the quarterfinals.

Kenin and Alison Riske are the two remaining U.S. women in the draw.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Jessica Calalang, Brian Johnson produce the pairs’ moment of figure skating nationals

AP
Leave a comment

GREENSBORO, N.C. – This fall season, Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson ranked fifth among American pairs but finished with silver medals at the U.S. Championships on Saturday night.

After a fifth-place nationals finish last year, their goal was just to be on the podium in Greensboro.

In their second year together, Calalang and Johnson won the free skate with 146.01 points for a total score of 213.57. It was good enough for second place, as the eventual winners, Alexa Knierim and Chris Knierim, held a 10-point lead over their training partners from the short program.

“While Brian and Chris are working on cars, Jess and I are having lattes petting cats,” Alexa said in a press conference. “We have a great dynamic and I couldn’t be prouder of them for the way they skated. I watched them backstage just because I genuinely care for them.”

Calalang and Johnson vaulted to second from fourth place after short, when Johnson fell on the side-by-side triple Salchows.

In the free skate, however, they received positive grades of execution on every element. The crowd inside the Greensboro Coliseum was on their feet before the music (“You are the Reason” by Calum Scott and Leona Lewis) even finished.

“I don’t think either of us have had that kind of performance at a U.S. Championships,” Calalang said.

“I definitely haven’t,” Johnson added. “The amount of audience support that I felt at the very end of that program was overwhelming. It was the most amazing thing I’ve felt on the ice. I don’t have words to describe it.”

Now, they could join the Knierims at the world championships in March. The U.S. has two berths to worlds, up from one last year. U.S. Figure Skating chooses the teams, not necessarily (but usually) following nationals standings.

Calalang and Johnson have no world championships experience, either together or with former partners, although they have had plenty of experience this season.

They kicked it off with a sixth-place finish at a lower-level event, followed by their Grand Prix debut at Skate America. They finished just off the podium in fourth. The following week, they were sixth at Skate Canada. They handily won the Warsaw Cup, another lower-level event this fall.

“Repetition always helps,” Johnson said. “The more experience you can get, hopefully the better you’re gonna be doing. It was great doing the Grand Prixes because we had an amazing audience at Skate America and Skate Canada. The whole place was sold-out. I think that really resembles here as well with everybody loving what you’re doing and the whole support base.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

NATIONALS: TV/Live Stream Schedule | Full Results

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.