Mikaela Shiffrin bounces back in Bormio slalom

Mikaela Shiffrin
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Mikaela Shiffrin quelled surfacing doubts about her Olympic gold-medal favorite status, winning a World Cup slalom race through rain and snow in Bormio, Italy, on Sunday.

The American prevailed in a two-run time of 2 minutes, .41 seconds. She won for the second time in four slalom races this season, further consolidating her World Championships and World Cup slalom titles last season.

“I was really psyched to win again,” Shiffrin, who was 12th and second in the previous two slaloms, told The Associated Press. “It’s been a fight all season and I feel like, if I’m not perfectly ready, then the win goes to somebody else. So I was really trying to prepare myself and be ready to go today no matter what the conditions or the visibility.”

Sweden’s Maria Pietilae-Holmner was second, .13 behind, followed by France’s Nastasia Noens.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup continues with a downhill and super combined in Altenmarkt, Austria, on Saturday and Sunday.

Lindsey Vonn is not expected to race as her status going forward is “up in the air.

“Her knee is very swollen, and it’s impossible for her to consider skiing for now,” U.S. Ski Team coach Alex Hoedlmoser said, according to Reuters.

“To race without a ligament is extremely risky and can have serious consequences,” U.S. Ski Team coach Patrick Riml added. “If she was a young athlete, we would have stopped her already.”

Shiffrin, who does not ski speed events, entered Sunday’s rescheduled race having lost her tight grip as the world’s best slalom skier.

Austrian Marlies Schild had come back from injury to win the last two World Cup slaloms. Shiffrin finished 12th at one of them.

Schild, 32, had won four of five World Cup slalom season titles before Shiffrin, 18, took it last year with Schild mostly sidelined.

Schild would have taken this season’s standings lead had she finished higher than Shiffrin on Sunday.

“Everything was starting to get in my head, so I was just like, ‘Maybe I should just try to let it go and have fun with it,’” Shiffrin told the AP after her first run.

Schild finished sixth, moving up from 15th after the first run.

Shiffrin was 11th fastest in the second run after leading the opener at the Stelvio course. Her .03 starting advantage over Pietilae-Holmner dropped to .01 during her second run, but Shiffrin picked up .08 over the final split.

The event that crowns the Snow Queen was moved from Zagreb, Croatia. Shiffrin prepared by watching past runs by Olympic champions Bode Miller and Janica Kostelic on YouTube up to Saturday night.

“It reminds me of Vermont and northeast Canada,” Shiffrin, a Vail, Colo., native who also spent parts of childhood in New Hampshire, told the AP after her first run. “It’s the same for everybody, but the gates hit the snow and then the (snow) comes off it and hits you in the goggles so by the end of the course you couldn’t really see, but you could see enough to finish.”

Shiffrin is expected to compete a maximum of three more times before the Olympics — a Jan. 14 slalom in Flachau, Austria, and two races in Maribor, Slovenia, Feb. 1-2.

“I’m very excited with how my season is going right now and I think I can do better, too,” Shiffrin said.

Here’s a feature 9News in Colorado published on Shiffrin on Sunday:

Bormio Slalom
1. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) 2:00.41
2. Maria-Pietilae Holmner (SWE) 2:00.54
3. Nastasia Noens (FRA) 2:01.03
4. Bernadette Schild (AUT) 2:01.15
5. Marie-Michele Gagnon (CAN) 2:01.52
6. Marlies Schild (AUT) 2:01.55
7. Michaela Kirchgasser (AUT) 2:01.72
8. Anna Swenn-Larsson (SWE) 2:01.75
9. Barbara Wirth (GER) 2:01.76
10. Frida Hansdotter (SWE) 2:01.85

Siberian man runs marathon in minus-36 degrees

Svetlana Romashina, seven-time Olympic champion artistic swimmer, retires

Svetlana Romashina
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Russian Svetlana Romashina, the most decorated artistic swimmer in Olympic history with seven gold medals, announced her retirement at age 33.

Romashina entered seven Olympic artistic swimming events and won all of them, starting in 2008. She won four Olympic titles in the team event and three in the duet (two with Nataliya Ishchenko and one with Svetlana Kolesnichenko).

The Tokyo Games marked her last major competition.

Romashina is the only woman to go undefeated in her Olympic career while entering seven or more events. The only man to do so was American track and field athlete Ray Ewry, who won all eight of his Olympic starts from 1900-08, according to Olympedia.org.

Romashina also won 21 world championships medals — all gold, second in aquatics history behind Michael Phelps‘ 26.

She took nearly two years off after giving birth to daughter Alexandra in November 2017, then came back to win three golds at her last world championships in 2019 and two golds at her last Olympics in 2021.

Romashina is now an artistic swimming coach, according to Russian media.

Russian swimmers swept the Olympic duet and team titles at each of the last six Olympics.

Russians have been banned from international competition since March due to the war in Ukraine.

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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. At the Olympics, she skied out within the first 13 seconds in each instance. On Monday, she was more than 40 seconds into her run.

“I was thinking, now I’m going to go through the mixed zone. and everyone’s going to ask, ‘Oh, is this Beijing again?'” Shiffrin said. “I didn’t really think about that for myself, but more for the people asking. But I also said before, coming into this world champs multiple times, I’m not afraid if it happens again. What if I don’t finish every run? What happened last year, and I survived. And then I’ve had some pretty amazing races this season. So I would take the season that I’ve had with no medals at the world championships. If it’s either/or, then I would take that. I’m happy with it. But I’m going to be pushing for medals, because that’s what you do at world champs. You wear your heart on your sleeve, and you go for it. I’m not afraid of the consequences, as long as I have that mentality, which I had today.”

NBC Sports analyst Steve Porino said what happened Monday was “completely different” from the Olympics, calling it “an error of aggression.”

“It certainly wasn’t nerves that sent her out,” Porino said on the Peacock broadcast. “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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