Hannah Kearney emotional about final moguls season

Hannah Kearney
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Hannah Kearney performed the last of more than 6,000 career jumps off a water ramp over seven years of training in Lake Placid, N.Y., two weeks ago. She threw her ski poles away. Then she felt it.

“The idea that I was getting choked up over something that I wasn’t really going to miss is like, uh-oh, I’m going to be a wreck in March,” Kearney said while getting her hair done in Midtown Manhattan last week.

Kearney, the most decorated U.S. freestyle skier ever, will retire after the 2014-15 season. The 2010 Olympic moguls champion decided before the Sochi Olympics that they would be her final Winter Games. She contemplated not coming back even for post-Olympic competition after a heartbreaking experience in the Russian mountains.

Kearney attempted to become the first freestyle skier to win back-to-back golds last February. She was a heavy favorite. She took bronze instead and shed tears sharing a podium with Canadian sisters Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe.

“No one in life wants the best part of their career to be behind them,” Kearney told reporters on the first night of medal competition at the Sochi Olympics. “Unfortunately, that’s what it feels like right now, that I was at my best in the past.”

Kearney, 28, isn’t changing her primary goal going into her 13th and final season, starting in Finland on Dec. 13. Win the overall World Cup title for a sixth time, which would break a tie for the record with Canadian Jenn Heil and American Donna Weinbrecht.

She publicly declared her retirement plans to hold herself accountable. Nagging knee pain in training last month felt like a reminder that she may have made the wrong decision in continuing one more season. Kearney had a left knee arthroscopy following a torn meniscus in July.

“I know in my heart that I need to move on,” said Kearney, who completed her freshman slate at Dartmouth in three years between Vancouver and Sochi, chopped up by competition. “In order to accomplish anything else in my life, I’ve got to start doing it now.”

Kearney, who started moguls skiing before women were allowed to do back flips in competition, will miss plenty about traveling the world to compete. The smell of her favorite bakery in Are, Sweden. The view of the Matterhorn from her Swiss hotel. But not the 2 a.m. alarms to drive from Norwich, Vt., to the Manchester, N.H., airport.

She still thinks about that Sochi Olympic bronze daily.

“I can get choked up talking about it, but I will get over it,” Kearney said. “I know everything happens for a reason. I’m just not sure why.”

Andrew Weibrecht heads into season coming off another concussion

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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