Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin bounces back in Bormio slalom

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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

Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal rekindle record bids at French Open

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Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal will play on the same day at the French Open through the quarterfinals, assuming each advances that far and the weather doesn’t wreak havoc. Each time they walk on the crushed red clay, the legends move closer to tying all-time records.

Williams, in her 10th bid since returning from childbirth to tie Margaret Court‘s 24 Grand Slam singles titles, battled and then rolled past 102nd-ranked countrywoman Kristie Ahn 7-6 (2), 6-0.

“I just need to play with more confidence, like I’m Serena,” she said of the difference between a 74-minute first set and a 27-minute second set. “I love the clay, and I started playing like it, opening the court and moving and sliding.”

Nadal, in his second major since moving within one of Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Slam titles, swept 83rd-ranked Belarusian Egor Gerasimov 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

“Six months without playing a single tennis match is not easy,” said Nadal, who skipped the U.S. Open and then lost his third match at his comeback tournament in Rome. “I had to stop playing tennis for more than two months, so situation is difficult.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Their pursuits are very different.

Williams is already the greatest player in history by many measures, especially considering most of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and some at the Australian Open without the world’s best players.

Williams has lost all four of her major finals since her life-threatening childbirth. But she is not the favorite in Paris, despite the absence of 2019 champion Ash Barty of Australia and recent U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka. Williams hasn’t made the quarterfinals at Roland Garros in four years and just went 16 months between competitive matches on clay.

She’s also battling an Achilles injury that affected her during a U.S. Open semifinal run three weeks ago. She’s spent most of her preparation time in France rehabbing.

“A ton of prayer,” she said, noting coming early to a post-match press conference to maximize her subsequent time handling the Achilles. “I’m doing so much for it.”

None of Williams’ potential first three opponents have ever beaten her. Next up: Bulgarian and fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova, a rematch of their three-set U.S. Open quarterfinal three weeks ago.

Like Williams, Nadal next plays on Wednesday. He gets Mackenzie McDonald, one of six American men to so far reach round two, the most since 1998.

For more than a decade, followers have debated the greatest male player in history between Nadal and Federer (and now Novak Djokovic). But not until winning the 2019 U.S. Open did Nadal move within one Slam of Federer’s total.

Now, Nadal can tie Federer and pass the Swiss if he wins the next two French Opens (and Federer doesn’t win the next Australian Open).

Nadal is going for his 13th crown in Paris, as usual downplaying his favorite status. This time, he’s noting the cool, slow, autumnal conditions and a new brand of tennis ball that is disadvantageous.

“Conditions here probably are the most difficult conditions for me ever in Roland Garros,” Nadal said last week. “The conditions are a little bit extreme to play an outdoor tournament.”

Federer is not playing after two knee operations. Nadal, who at 34 is five years younger than Federer, has the opportunity in the coming matches and months to tip the scales in his favor. And help deny Djokovic, who is 33 with 17 Slams.

Nadal is not one to engage in that GOAT debate. Turns out, neither is Williams.

“You can’t compare two people that are equally great,” she said of Nadal and Federer. “I don’t understand why people want to pit who’s this, who’s that? They both have spectacular careers that 99 percent of people can only dream of and they both deserve.”

Earlier Monday, newly crowned U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem rolled 2014 U.S. Open winner Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

Thiem, the 2018 and 2019 French Open runner-up, next gets American Jack Sock, a former top-10 player now ranked No. 310.

Sock took out countryman Reilly Opelka 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 for his first main draw win at the French Open in four years.

MORE: Halep, Comaneci and the genesis of a Romanian friendship

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World silver medalist opts out of figure skating Grand Prix

Elizabet Tursynbaeva
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Elizabet Tursynbayeva, the 2019 World silver medalist, said she will not compete in figure skating’s upcoming Grand Prix Series, according to Kazakhstan’s Olympic Committee.

Tursynbayeva noted in stating her decision that world ranking points will not be awarded in the series, which starts with Skate America from Oct. 23-25.

Fields for the six Grand Prix events, held on consecutive weekends through November, have not been released.

Skaters will be restricted to one Grand Prix start — halved from the usual two — and to the event in their home nations or closest to their training locations.

Tursynbayeva trains in Russia, one of six nations to host Grand Prix events.

Previously, Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu announced he would not compete on the Grand Prix due to coronavirus pandemic-related travel risks.

Russian Olympic gold medalist Alina Zagitova, who announced an indefinite break from competition last December, is also not expected to compete. She is hosting a Russian skating-themed TV show but has not announced her future competition plans.

Tursynbayeva took silver behind Zagitova at the most recent world championships in 2019, a surprise given her 12th-place finish at the PyeongChang Olympics. Tursynbayeva withdrew before her 2019 Grand Prix events, reportedly after suffering an injury.

Last season’s top skaters were all first-year seniors — Russians Alena Kostornaya, Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova. The world championships were not held due to the pandemic.

Two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu will not be old enough for the Grand Prix until the 2021-22 Olympic season.

MORE: Orser reacts to Medvedeva’s coaching switch

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