Shani Davis, Heather Richardson make podium at World Sprint Championships

Shani Davis
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Shani Davis and Heather Richardson won silver and bronze, respectively, at the World Sprint Speed Skating Championships, the final major international event before the Olympics.

Davis used the event as a warm-up before Sochi. The World Sprint Championships consist of two 500m races and two 1000m races over two days.

In the 1000m, Olympic champion Davis and world champion Denis Kuzin swapped one-two finishes. Davis placed 11th and 14th in the two 500m races. He finished behind repeat champion Dutchman Michel Mulder overall.

“It’s more just practice, going through the steps of competing at a higher level and leading into Sochi,” Davis told Dutch broadcaster NOS in a video interview before Sunday’s final races. “This will be the biggest time in between races, from my Olympic Trials til Sochi. I wanted to break it up a little bit, have a high-level competition.”

Davis’ 1000m results were most notable as he is the two-time reigning Olympic champion in the event. Davis won three of four World Cup 1000m races this season with Kuzin failing to make the podium in all four.

The Kazakh Kuzin had never finished better than fifth in a World Cup 1000m before he won the World Championship at the Sochi Olympic oval on March 22. His win Saturday proved that world title was not a single-skate fluke.

In the women’s competition, Richardson was unable to successfully defend her sprint championship from last year.

China’s Yu Jing took gold, followed by the countrywoman Zhang Hong and Richardson. Richardson, a threat for as many as four medals in Sochi, won the final 1000m, took third in both 500m races and fourth in the earlier 1000m.

Richardson edged Yu for the title last year in Salt Lake City. The competition this year was missing South Korean Lee Sang-hwa, the heavy favorite for Olympic gold in the 500m.

U.S. Olympic Skeleton Team named

Olympic flame to travel by sea for Paris 2024, welcomed by armada

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024
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The Olympic flame will travel from Athens to Marseille by ship in spring 2024 to begin the France portion of the torch relay that ends in Paris on July 26, 2024.

The torch relay always begins in the ancient Olympic site of Olympia, Greece, where the sun’s rays light the flame. It will be passed by torch until it reaches Athens.

It will then cross the Mediterranean Sea aboard the Belem, a three-masted ship, “reminiscent of a true Homeric epic,” according to Paris 2024. It will arrive at the Old Port of Marseille, welcomed by an armada of boats.

Marseille is a former Greek colony and the oldest city in France. It will host sailing and some soccer matches during the Paris Olympics.

The full 2024 Olympic torch relay route will be unveiled in May.

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Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024

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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