Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin wins her first World Cup giant slalom in Soelden tie (video)

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Mikaela Shiffrin won her first career World Cup giant slalom race, tying for the victory in the season opener in Soelden, Austria, on Saturday.

The U.S. Olympic slalom champion clocked a two-run time of 2 minutes, 39.85 seconds. As did Austrian Anna Fenninger, the reigning World Cup overall champion. Another Austrian, Eva-Maria Brem, was third.

“I’m really psyched I made it down alive [in the second run],” said Shiffrin, who had a stomach ache before her second run. “Maybe I’ll try to get on the top step on my own next time.

“It’s a pretty good start. I can’t really wish for better.”

Shiffrin led Fenninger by .09 after the first run. She was the last skier to go in the second run and fell .63 behind Fenninger at an early split but made up the deficit. She was obviously pleased with the tie, smiling while putting her hands on her knees after seeing a scoreboard crossing the finish line.

“As long as you see the green light [on the scoreboard, indicating having taken a lead], then it’s good,” Shiffrin said. “The last year, and the past three years, I’ve come down in GS and seen red, red, red. It feels good to finally come the second run and see green.”

Shiffrin, 19, who became the youngest Olympic men’s or women’s slalom gold medalist ever in Sochi, set these youngest-since World Cup marks Saturday:

* Youngest World Cup giant slalom men’s or women’s race winner since France’s Tessa Worley on Nov. 9, 2008.
* Youngest U.S. World Cup giant slalom men’s or women’s race winner since Diann Roffe on March 13, 1985 (Roffe was 17).
* Youngest Soelden men’s or women’s race winner since Nicole Hosp (18), Tina Maze (19) and Andrine Flemmen (27) tied for the win in 2002, the first three-way tie in World Cup history.

Shiffrin is the reigning Olympic, World and World Cup champion in the slalom, but she was near tears in Sochi after finishing fifth in the Olympic giant slalom three days before she won the slalom.

“I was really thinking that my first giant slalom win would be at the Olympics,” Shiffrin said in Sochi, though her agent, a former World Cup racer, said Shiffrin skied to her level in the Olympic giant slalom.

So she made it her primary post-Olympic goal to win her first giant slalom race. Shiffrin was sixth in Soelden last year and notched her first career World Cup giant slalom podiums with second- and third-place finishes last December.

Saturday marked her 23rd career World Cup giant slalom start. Shiffrin was 43rd in her first giant slalom on March 11, 2011, 4.64 seconds behind the first-run leader. She failed to qualify for the second run and was two days shy of her 16th birthday.

She won her first World Cup slalom race in her 14th start in that discipline.

“It’s very helpful to know that I can win GS,” Shiffrin said. “I’ve thought it for so long and believed in myself, but today was the first day where, between runs, I was like, I really think I can do this.”

On Saturday, Fenninger won her fifth straight World Cup giant slalom race with the tie. Shiffrin may be emerging as a threat to Fenninger’s defense of the World Cup overall title. The American was fifth and sixth in the overall standings, a sum of results across all five Alpine disciplines, the last two years.

Now that Shiffrin has her first World Cup giant slalom win, many will wonder when she makes her debut in a World Cup speed event, likely a super-G. She has said she would like to do so before the World Championships in Colorado in February. Her giant slalom comfort would play a role in when she added super-G.

”Soelden is always like a see-where-I-am kind of a race,” Shiffrin said. “I’m going for the [crystal] globes [that go to season-long discipline and overall champions], as many as I can.”

The men race in Soelden on Sunday. U.S. Olympic champion Ted Ligety eyes his fourth straight season-opening win in Soelden.

The women’s World Cup continues with a slalom in Levi, Finland, on Nov. 15. Shiffrin won in Levi last year and received a reindeer as a prize.

Men’s Alpine skiing World Cup preview

Eliud Kipchoge sets next marathon

Eliud Kipchoge
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Eliud Kipchoge will race the London Marathon on April 26 before he is expected to defend his Olympic title in Japan on Aug. 9, which would mark the shortest break between marathons of his career.

Kipchoge, who in his last 26.2-mile effort became the first person to break two hours at the distance, won all four of his London Marathon starts, including breaking the course record in 2016 and 2019.

His time this past April 28 — 2:02:37 — is the third-fastest time in history. Kipchoge has the world record of 2:01:39 set at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. His sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna on Oct. 12 was not in a record-eligible race.

Kipchoge’s previous shortest break between marathons came in 2016, when he also ran London and the Olympics. The Olympics will be two weeks earlier in 2020 than in 2016.

Kipchoge, 35, has won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team.

He has yet to race the two most prestigious marathons in the U.S. — Boston and New York City — but has said they are on his bucket list.

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Canadians become first female doubles luge team in World Cup

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WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless made luge history Saturday, becoming the first female team to compete in a World Cup doubles race.

The 16-year-olds from Whistler combined to finish 22nd in a field of 23 sleds, though that seemed largely irrelevant. There have been four-woman teams in what is typically called four-man bobsledding, but luge has never seen a pairing like this until now.

The German sled of Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken won the race in 1 minute, 16.644 seconds. Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt finished second and the Russian team of Vsevolod Kashkin and Konstantin Korshunov placed third for their first medal of the season.

The U.S. team of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman placed 11th.

But the story was the Canadian teens, who qualified for the World Cup event on Thursday. They were nearly a half-second behind any other finisher and almost 2.7 seconds back of Eggert and Benecken. But they’ll forever be able to say that they were winning the race at one point — a technicality because they were the first ones down the hill at the Whistler Sliding Center, but accurate nonetheless.

The only sled they beat was the Italian team of Ivan Nagler and Fabian Malleier, who crashed in the second heat.

There are women’s singles and men’s singles races on the World Cup luge circuit, but there is no rule saying doubles teams must be composed of two men. There have been more female doubles racers at the junior level in recent years, and it was generally considered to be just a matter of time before it happened at the World Cup level.

That time became Saturday.

Canada had the chance to qualify a second sled into the doubles field because some teams typically on the circuit chose to skip this weekend’s stop, and Nash and Corless got into by successfully finishing a Nations Cup qualifying race on Thursday.

They were 11th in that race out of 11 sleds, more than a full second behind the winner and nearly a half-second behind the closest finisher. But all they had to do was cross the line without crashing to get into Saturday’s competition, and earned their spot in the luge history books as a result.

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