Katie Ledecky wins USA Swimming Athlete of the Year; who are World Swimmers of the Year?

Katie Ledecky

Katie Ledecky swept USA Swimming’s Athlete of the Year and Performance of the Year awards thanks to her record-breaking efforts for the second straight year.

Ledecky, 17 and a high school senior, broke a world record five times over a two-month stretch. She capped her season by winning five gold medals at the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, in August.

Her final swim of Pan Pacs earned Performance of the Year. Ledecky knocked nearly six seconds off her 1500m free world record, swimming it faster than Ryan Lochte did at the 2004 Olympic Trials.

Ledecky won the same awards last year after winning four gold medals at the 2013 World Championships. She earned the 2013 Performance of the Year Award for breaking the 1500m world record in the 2013 Worlds final.

Ledecky and Missy Franklin were in proximity for last year’s U.S. and global swimming honors, but Ledecky is a no-brainer to take home her second straight World Swimmer of the Year titles from FINA and Swimming World. Franklin might not be her top competition, considering Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu‘s all-around prowess.

The men’s global awards ought to go to Japan’s Kosuke Hagino, who would become the first man from his nation to claim such titles. Hagino, 20, won five medals at the Pan Pacific Championships, including sweeping the individual medleys.

On Sunday, Hagino trumped both China’s Sun Yang and South Korea’s Park Tae-hwan in the Asian Games 200m freestyle final. Sun is the reigning Swimming World Male Swimmer of the Year. Lochte won the FINA award last year.

Retired Australian swimming legend resumes training

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight


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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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen

Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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