Sochi’s slalom signals shift of stars in women’s Alpine


KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – Mikaela Shiffrin’s first Olympic title also may have signaled the last Olympic races for the world’s two best all-around skiers.

Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Tina Maze, who have four Olympic medals each, said the slalom Friday night was their Olympic farewell.

Shiffrin wants to add speed racing in the next year or two, certainly before 2018, which could make the Sochi slalom a changing-of-the-guard event. (Lindsey Vonn may also have a say during this transition period.)

Hoefl-Riesch finished fourth and Maze was eighth in the slalom, the first time at these Winter Games that a women’s Alpine podium did not include either of the skiers. Hoefl-Riesch couldn’t stay on the podium, nor successfully defend her 2010 slalom title, after being second to Shiffrin in the first slalom run.

In the second run, Hoefl-Riesch skied into third and was bumped to fourth by the American, .38 seconds from her fifth career Olympic medal. Still, she finished her second Olympics with two medals, gold in the super combined and silver in the super-G.

“I can go home really happily,” said Hoefl-Riesch, who skipped Tuesday’s giant slalom Tuesday. “Today, fourth place is a little bit sad. That’s sports. The others were better today. You have to accept that. It was not a bad race for me.”

Maze was looking to become the first skier to place in the top five of all five events at one Olympics. Eighth place did not sit well with the bold woman who has a hit single with more than 700,000 views across YouTube videos.

VIDEO: Compare Shiffrin’s runs to the others’

“That’s my last one [career Olympic race],” said Maze, who won the giant slalom and tied for gold in the downhill in her fourth Olympics. “It feels terrible, finishing eighth. I was fighting. It didn’t work out. Two golds is more than I expected. Right now I feel a little down.”

She’ll have to settle for being the third skier to finish in the top 10 of all five events at one Olympics.

The others?

The most decorated Olympic Alpine skier of all time – Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt – and Hoefl-Riesch, who did it in 2010.

Hoefl-Riesch and Maze may never ski in an Olympics again, but they will be rivals the rest of the World Cup season. Maze is returning to the form that saw her post the greatest World Cup season by a man or woman in 2012-13.

VIDEO: Shiffrin talks about her golden feeling

She is in fifth place overall this season, 325 points behind the leader Hoefl-Riesch with nine races to go. It’s a healthy deficit but not insurmountable.

“Maria had a really good start of the season,” Maze said. “I had a pretty bad start. I hope I can catch her, for sure.”

Hoefl-Riesch, the 2012 World Cup overall champion, wasn’t taking Maze lightly.

“It will be a tough fight in the overall World Cup because Tina is back in shape now,” she said. “She is a little bit behind, but she can make that up for sure.”

Hoefl-Riesch, 29, said this could be her last World Cup season. She hopes to decide for sure before the final races in mid-March.

“Maybe even one more year is too much,” she said. “I’m doing this since I’m 16. I’m doing every single race since I’m 18 or 19. This is so intense. Over the years, I feel that my body is not making it so well anymore. I’m still having fun, still lots of fun for me to do every discipline. Sometimes I feel tired, and that’s so hard to motivate for another year. It’s not only the skiing in the winter, but it’s all the work in the summer. It’s so tough and so complicated when you’re doing all events.”

Vonn, 29, wants to return next season. It’s unclear if she’ll pick up the technical events, giant slalom and slalom.

Three months before she ruled herself out of the Olympics, Vonn said that she wouldn’t ski slalom in Sochi. She also said she might not ski any giant slalom this season, before she announced she needed another knee surgery and abandoned her year after four speed races.

Shiffrin, 18, is on the way in for the overall picture in the next Olympic cycle.

She has never raced a World Cup speed event, but she has trained super-G and thought a lot about when she’ll add it to her repertoire.

The Vail native is taking a calculated approach.

“I’m still not quite where I want to be with [giant slalom], at this point in the season,” said Shiffrin, who was fifth in the Olympic giant slalom. “I mean, I’ve definitely improved a lot, but my goal is really to get my slalom and GS dialed in before I move to speed, so when I do I’m able to spread myself that thin and be OK with it. Hopefully, maybe, some super-Gs next year. Maybe even the end of this year, but it all depends on how I’m feeling.”

Maze has been impressed with Shiffrin’s giant slalom skills, even reportedly calling her a “young Tina Maze.” Maze was also cautious, though.

“Speed, you need a lot of experience,” Maze said. “She will need a lot of training.”

Hoefl-Riesch said Shiffrin could “become the greatest ever.”

“For her age, unbelievable how technical perfect her skiing is and also how she is handling all the pressure and expectations,” Hoefl-Riesch said. “I never saw her on long skis, but I’m sure she will have good technique for that and be really fast, too.”

Skiing fans will appreciate Hoefl-Riesch and Maze, though. They have a combined 20 Olympic and World Championship medals between them, plus 50 World Cup victories.

Their accolades may have been far from their minds Friday, as they spoke to reporters while the medalists were presented with flowers behind them.

“Finishing like this,” Maze said, “is not satisfying.”

Wimbledon reverses ban on Russia, Belarus tennis players

Wimbledon Russia

Russian and Belarusian players will be able to compete at Wimbledon as neutral athletes after the All England Club on Friday reversed its ban from last year.

The players must sign declarations of neutrality and comply with “appropriate conditions,” including not expressing support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision, not taken lightly or without a great deal of consideration for those who will be impacted,” All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said in a statement.

The players cannot receive funding from the Russian or Belarusian states, including sponsorship from companies operated or controlled by the states.

Those impacted include Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and Russian players Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev.

Other tennis tournaments have allowed Russian and Belarusian players to compete as neutral athletes.

“We also consider alignment between the Grand Slams to be increasingly important in the current tennis environment,” the club said.

The same conditions will apply for Lawn Tennis Association tournaments used by players as grass-court warmups for the sport’s oldest Grand Slam tournament.

The women’s and men’s professional tennis tours last year imposed heavy fines on the LTA and threatened to pull its tournaments. The ATP and WTA had also responded to last year’s ban by not awarding ranking points for Wimbledon — an unprecedented move against the prestigious event.

“There was a strong and very disappointing reaction from some governing bodies in tennis to the position taken by the All England Club and the LTA last year with consequences which, if continued, would be damaging to the interests of players, fans, The Championships and British tennis,” the club said.

This year’s Wimbledon tournament will start on July 3. The women’s final is scheduled for July 15 and the men’s final on July 16.

The All England Club said the conditions were developed through talks with the British government, the LTA and “international stakeholder bodies in tennis.”

The club’s statement described “personal player declarations” but didn’t provide details. The LTA said the players and support staff “will be required to sign neutrality declarations” similar to those used in other sports.

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2023 World Junior Gymnastics Championships live stream schedule

World Junior Gymnastics Championships

The world junior gymnastics championships individual finals stream live on the International Gymnastics Federation YouTube channel from Friday through Sunday.

Already this week, Japan swept the men’s and women’s team titles in Antalya, Turkey. The U.S. women took silver.

The U.S. women in Friday’s all-around final are Izzy Stassi (qualified fourth) and Jayla Hang (qualified 22nd). The U.S. men in Friday’s all-around final are Kai Uemura (qualified 11th) and David Shamah (qualified 14th).

Americans also advanced to four of this weekend’s apparatus finals: women’s vault (Stassi, Hang), uneven bars (Hezly Rivera) and floor exercise (Rivera, Hang) and men’s still rings (Uemura).

Gymnastics added a biennial junior worlds starting in 2019. The 2021 edition was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Women ages 14 or 15 and men ages 15 through 18 compete.

The U.S. team in 2019 included future senior world team members Skye Blakely, Kayla DiCello and Konnor McClain.

2023 World Junior Gymnastics Championships Live Stream Schedule

Day Competition Time (ET) Platform
Friday Men’s All-Around 7:30 a.m. FIG YouTube | LIVE STREAM LINK
Women’s All-Around 12 p.m. FIG YouTube | LIVE STREAM LINK
Saturday Apparatus Finals 7 a.m. FIG YouTube | LIVE STREAM LINK
Sunday Apparatus Finals 7 a.m. FIG YouTube | LIVE STREAM LINK

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