Bode Miller, Julia Mancuso return as World Cup season continues

Bode Miller
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Sochi’s Alpine stars are back in action as early as Friday for the resumption of World Cup races.

Bronze medalist Bode Miller, the most decorated Olympic skier in U.S. history, is slated for a downhill in Kvitfjell, Norway, on Friday, the first of three straight days of racing at the site of the 1994 Olympics. Poor visibility canceled training Thursday.

If the weather brightens, Miller will take on a field including world champion Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal, who will be looking to put an illness-filled, medal-less Olympics behind him.

Olympic giant slalom champion Ted Ligety will not race in Kvitfjell. He does not usually race downhills (Friday and Saturday) and opted out of coming over just for the super-G on Sunday.

The women’s tour resumes in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, with a downhill Saturday and a super combined Sunday. Olympic super combined bronze medalist Julia Mancuso is expected to race both days.

Olympic slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin is not racing, as she is a slalom and giant slalom specialist.

Swiss Lara Gut, the Sochi downhill bronze medalist, was fastest in downhill training Thursday. Also in the field are German Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Slovenian Tina Maze, the most decorated active women’s skiers.

What’s on the line the rest of the season?

Precious crystal globes that go to individual discipline winners (except combined) and for overall points. Skiers accumulate points based on finishes in each race (100 for the winner, 80 for second, 60 for third, etc.).

Here are standings through 25 of 34 men’s races:

Overall
1. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) 955 points
2. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) 897
3. Alexis Pinturault (FRA) 774
4. Ted Ligety (USA) 629
5. Felix Neureuther (GER) 551
8. Bode Miller (USA) 449

Downhill (through six of nine races)
1. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) 440
2. Hannes Reichelt (AUT) 360 — OUT (back surgery)
3. Patrick Kueng (SUI) 239
6. Bode Miller (USA) 185

Super-G (through four of six races)
1. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) 296
2. Didier Defago (SUI) 162
3. Patrick Kueng (SUI) 159
4. Bode Miller (USA) 138

Svindal can clinch the downhill and super-G season titles with strong finishes this weekend.

Here are standings through 24 of 33 women’s races:

Overall
1. Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) 1,079
2. Tina Weirather (LIE) 943 — OUT FOR SEASON (shin injury)
3. Anna Fenninger (AUT) 871
4. Lara Gut (SUI) 796
5. Tina Maze (SLO) 754
6. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) 650

Downhill (through seven of nine races)
1. Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) 475
2. Tina Weirather (LIE) 400 — OUT FOR SEASON (shin injury)
3. Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden (SUI) 389
11. Stacey Cook (USA) 133
14. Julia Mancuso (USA) 121

Combined (through one of two races)
1. Marie-Michele Gagnon (CAN) 100
2. Michaela Kirchgasser (AUT) 80
3. Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) 60

Hoefl-Riesch can clinch the downhill season title with a win Saturday, or a lower finish with help. The women’s super combined season title will be determined Sunday as it is the final super combined of the season.

Video: Ligety, Shiffrin on late-night talk shows

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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