Henrik Kristoffersen

Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen, 19, wins first World Cup race

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Mikaela Shiffrin isn’t the only teenage slalom phenom.

Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen won his first World Cup race Tuesday, taking a night slalom in front of a raucous crowd that included Arnold Schwarzenegger in Schladming, Austria.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Kristoffersen, who threw his ski poles to the ground, fell to the snow and pumped his arms after his second run, even though first-run leader Mario Matt still had to go. “To win my first World Cup race here in Schladming with 45,000, 50,000 spectators is just unbelievable.”

The Austrian Matt straddled a gate early in his second run, much to the disappointment of Schwarzenegger and the flare-waving crowd.

Kristoffersen won in a two-run time of 1 minute, 47.43 seconds. Another Austrian, world champion Marcel Hirscher, was second, .18 behind. German Felix Neureuther was third.

Americans Ted Ligety and Bode Miller straddled gates early in their first runs and did not qualify for the second run.

Ligety led Matt at the first split, encouraging for him. Ligety did win three World Championships in Schladming last February, but none of them came in slalom, one of his weaker events.

“This is aggressive snow and I was going for it,” Ligety said, according to The Associated Press. “I just started cutting in too soon. It’s always a bummer to straddle. It’s unfortunate. At least I was skiing pretty well. I feel like had my setup pretty dialed in now where I can actually start to look for speed in slalom.”

Top American David Chodounsky had blood on his face, bib and suit after a gate slammed his nose in the first run, according to the AP. He finished 22nd.

This was the final slalom before the Winter Olympics.

Kristoffersen is squarely in the medal mix — perhaps the gold-medal mix — with four slalom podiums this season. He’s tied for second in the World Cup standings with Neureuther behind Hirscher after six races.

Kristoffersen would be the youngest male medalist in Olympic Alpine history if he wins a medal in Sochi.

“I haven’t thought that much about the Olympics, actually,” said Kristoffersen, a two-time junior world champion. “I’ve been more focused on World Cup races. Of course it’s a boost [for Sochi]. I get a little bit more pressure now, but it’s OK.”

The Alpine skiing World Cup continues with a downhill and a giant slalom in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Saturday and Sunday. They are the final races before the Olympics.

Schladming Slalom
1. Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) 1:47.43
2. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) 1:47.61
3. Felix Neureuther (GER) 1:47.62
4. Fritz Dopfer (GER) 1:47.71
5. Alexis Pinturault (FRA) 1:47.76
6. Mattias Hargin (SWE) 1:48.38
7. Manfred Moelgg (ITA)  1:48.99
8. Markus Larsson (SWE) 1:49.15
9. Steve Missillier (FRA) 1:49.27
10. Reinfreid Herbst (AUT) 1:49.30
22. David Chodounsky (USA) 1:51.04

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World Alpine Skiing Championships on for 2021 after request to delay rejected

Alpine Skiing World Championships
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GENEVA (AP) — A request by the organizers of next year’s skiing world championships in Italy to postpone the event by one year was rejected Thursday by the International Ski Federation.

FIS ruled that the event will go ahead from Feb. 9-21, 2021, in Cortina d’Ampezzo — the highlight of an Alpine season that faces challenges to find safe protocols for international travel and attending races in Europe, North America and China.

The Veneto region of northern Italy was hit hard by the coronavirus and the season-ending World Cup races in Cortina in mid-March were canceled. That week-long event was to be a test for the 2021 worlds.

“The last month of efforts to come to this solution demonstrates the strong collaborative spirit of the ski family and stakeholders.” FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper said.

Organizers in Italy have said they expect losses of about 30 million euros ($34 million) if the worlds are also canceled. They asked for a postponement to March 2022, which would be only weeks after the Beijing Olympics.

“But we will be ready in any case and we will show that these world championships can change the history of a region despite the current difficulties,” Alessandro Benetton, president of the Cortina organizing committee, said in a statement.

Italian racer Sofia Goggia, the 2018 Olympic downhill champion, said she was “happy for Cortina because it will host the first major international event after the coronavirus epidemic.”

Cortina, which hosted the 1956 Olympics, will co-host the 2026 Winter Games with Milan and use the worlds as a showcase for the resort.

The women’s World Cup downhill on the Olympia delle Tofane course each January is one of the most scenic in the sport with a signature jump between tall outcrops of jagged rock.

The Dolomites venue was awarded the 2021 worlds by FIS after missing out as a candidate four straight times from 2013-19.

MORE: Anna Veith retires, leaves Austrian Alpine skiing in unfamiliar territory

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Russia track and field athlete clearance frozen due to unpaid fine

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MONACO (AP) — The program allowing Russian track athletes to compete internationally will be frozen because the country’s federation failed to pay a fine on time, World Athletics said Thursday.

The Russian track federation, known as RusAF, owes a $5 million fine and another $1.31 million in costs for various doping-related work and legal wrangles. World Athletics said RusAF missed Wednesday’s deadline to pay.

World Athletics said it would freeze the work of the Doping Review Board, which vets Russian athletes who want the “authorized neutral athlete” status that allows them to compete internationally, and its taskforce monitoring RusAF’s anti-doping reforms.

World Athletics said both bodies will be “put on hold” until its council meets to discuss the situation at the end of July.

“RusAF is letting its athletes down badly,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “We have done as much as we can to expedite our ANA process and support RusAF with its reinstatement plan, but seemingly to no avail.”

RusAF president Yevgeny Yurchenko earlier told the Tass state news agency that his federation’s finances were damaged by the coronavirus pandemic and that it had asked for more time to pay.

World Athletics’ statement didn’t directly address that issue, but said Russia hadn’t indicated when it would pay.

Russia was fined $10 million by World Athletics in March, with $5 million suspended for two years, after the federation admitted to breaking anti-doping rules and obstructing an investigation.

The Athletics Integrity Unit said fake documents were used under the previous management to give an athlete an alibi for missing a doping test.

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