Catching up with Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Jackie Joyner-Kersee
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Jackie Joyner-Kersee is a six-time Olympic medalist, a four-time world champion and not only one of the greatest track and field athletes of all time, but also on the short list of greatest Olympians.

Joyner-Kersee turned 52 one month ago, still lives near her original home of East St. Louis, Ill., and is staying involved in track and field while watching another American try to take down her long jump records.

OlympicTalk recently caught up with Joyner-Kersee to look back on her career and to discuss current happenings:

OlympicTalk: What was your favorite Olympic event?

Joyner-Kersee: Oh wow, winning of course [which she did three times, the 1988 and 1992 heptathlon and 1988 long jump], but I would say ’96, the bronze medal [in the long jump] because I had to pull out of the heptathlon [with a hamstring injury]. That was really a dream come true in a sense. Everything came full circle [in my final Olympic event].

OlympicTalk: Who was your favorite competitor?

Joyner-Kersee: [German long jumper] Heike Drechsler was one that I always had to be ready to go up against. And we had a friendship. She was one of the most consistent jumpers out there. I always knew that she would be ready. [Drechsler and Joyner-Kersee swapped long jump Olympic and world titles for the better part of a decade]

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OlympicTalk: Where do you keep your medals?

Joyner-Kersee: My aunt keeps them, in East St. Louis.

OlympicTalk: Do you ever see them?

Joyner-Kersee: Oh yes, a lot of times. If I want to take them to the schools [where Joyner-Kersee gives motivational speeches], she can give them to me.

OlympicTalk: Olympic long jump champion Brittney Reese has said her goal is to break your American record of 7.49m. Her best is 7.25m. Do you think she can do it?

Joyner-Kersee: I definitely think that it’s possible because she is one of our most consistent jumpers. I like her as a person, but then also her tenacity and her will to pull it out in the end. I like that about her. I think the biggest thing for her is staying healthy.

OlympicTalk: What are you up to now?

Joyner-Kersee: I’m doing a lot of events for USA Track and Field. The Run, Jump and Throw here in St. Louis — USA Track and Field has partnered with Hershey trying to introduce more kids to being active and having fun.

I’m continuing my work in the [St. Louis] community. That keeps you busy. I do a lot of motivational talks, at a lot of schools, a lot of things on fitness and wellness.

Lauryn Williams retiring, or adding another sport?

Mikaela Shiffrin, three gates from gold, skis out of world championships combined

Mikaela Shiffrin
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Mikaela Shiffrin was three gates from a record-tying seventh world championships gold medal when she lost her balance and straddled a gate, skiing out of the first race of worlds on Monday.

Italian Federica Brignone won the women’s combined instead, prevailing by 1.62 seconds over Swiss Wendy Holdener, the largest Olympic or world championships men’s or women’s margin of victory in the event since it switched from three runs to two in 2007.

Austrian Ricarda Haaser took bronze in an event that is one run of super-G followed by one run of slalom.

At 32, Brignone, the 2020 World Cup overall champion, won her first global title and became the oldest female world champion in any event.

“What was missing in my career was a gold medal,” she said. “So I’m old. No, I’m just kidding.”

ALPINE WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Shiffrin was sixth fastest in the opening super-G run, 96 hundredths behind Brignone. She skied aggressively in the slalom in a bid to beat Brignone. Shiffrin cut the gap to eight hundredths by the last intermediate split with about 10 seconds left on the course in Meribel, France.

Shiffrin looked set to overtake Brignone until tripping up slightly with five gates left. It compounded, and Shiffrin couldn’t save the run, losing control, straddling the third-to-last gate and skiing out. The timing system still registered her finish — 34 hundredths faster than Brignone — but it was quickly corrected to the obvious disqualification.

Asked on French TV if she lost focus, Shiffrin said, “People are going to say that no matter what.”

“The surface changed a little bit on these last gates, so [on pre-race] inspection I saw it’s a bit more unstable on the snow,” she added. “I tried to be aware of that, but I knew that if I had a chance to make up nine tenths on Federica, or more than that, like one second, I had to push like crazy. So I did, and I had a very good run. I’m really happy with my skiing.”

It marked Shiffrin’s first time skiing out since she did so in three races at last February’s Olympics, where her best individual finish was ninth in five races.

“What she did at the Olympics versus what she did in this run, two completely different things,” NBC Sports analyst Steve Porino said on the Peacock broadcast, adding that it was “an error of aggression.” “It certainly wasn’t nerves that sent her out. This was Shiffrin knowing that she had to have a huge run to get the gold medal.

“The way she went out this time, I think she can brush that one off.”

Shiffrin was bidding to tie the modern-era records for individual world championships gold medals (seven) and total medals (12). Coming into Monday, she earned a medal in her last 10 world championships races dating to 2015.

Her next chance to match those records comes in Wednesday’s super-G, where she is a medal contender. Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel is the world’s top-ranked super-G skier through five races on the World Cup this season, though she was 71 hundredths behind Brignone in Monday’s super-G run.

Shiffrin has raced two super-Gs this season with a win and a seventh place.

She is expected to race three more times over the two-week worlds, which is separate from the World Cup circuit that she has torn up this season.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup wins in 23 starts across all disciplines since November, moving her one shy of the career victories record of 86 accumulated by Swede Ingemar Stenmark in the 1970s and ’80s. Again, world championships races do not count toward the World Cup, which picks back up after worlds end in late February.

Worlds continue Tuesday with the men’s combined.

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2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships results

Mikaela Shiffrin World Championships
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Top 10 and notable results from the 2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships in Meribel and Courchevel, France …

Women’s Combined
Gold: Federica Brignone (ITA) — 1:57.47
Silver: Wendy Holdener (SUI) — +1.62
Bronze: Ricarda Haaser (AUT) — +2.26
4. Ramona Siebenhofer (AUT) — +2.48
5. Franziska Gritsch (AUT) — +2.71
6. Michelle Gisin (SUI) — +3.43
7. Laura Gauche (FRA) — +3.71
8. Emma Aicher (GER) — +3.78
9. Elena Curtoni (ITA) — +4.05
10. Marie-Michele Gagnon (CAN) — +4.91
13. Bella Wright (USA) — +6.21
DQ (slalom). Mikaela Shiffrin (USA)
DNS (slalom). Lara Gut-Behrami (SUI)
DNS (slalom). Ragnhild Mowinckel (NOR)
DNS (slalom). Sofia Goggia (ITA)
DNF (super-G). Marta Bassino (ITA)
DNF (super-G). Breezy Johnson (USA)
DNF (super-G). Tricia Mangan (USA)

Men’s Combined (Feb. 7)
Women’s Super-G (Feb. 8)
Men’s Super-G (Feb. 9)
Women’s Downhill (Feb. 11)
Men’s Downhill (Feb. 12)
Team Parallel (Feb. 14)
Men’s Parallel (Feb. 15)
Women’s Parallel (Feb. 15)
Women’s Giant Slalom (Feb. 16)
Men’s Giant Slalom (Feb. 17)
Women’s Slalom (Feb. 18)
Men’s Slalom (Feb. 19)

ALPINE WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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