Mikaela Shiffrin no longer plans to race Val d’Isere super-G

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Mikaela Shiffrin‘s World Cup super-G debut is being pushed back.

The Olympic slalom champion will not race in a super-G in Val d’Isere, France, next Sunday, according to the U.S. Ski Team.

Shiffrin, 19, said before this season that the timing of her first super-G race would be dependent, at least partially, on how well her giant slalom skiing felt.

She won a World Cup giant slalom for the first time in the season opener on Oct. 25 in Soelden, Austria, tying for the victory with Austrian Anna Fenninger.

It was announced before her following race in November that she planned to race the Val d’Isere super-G.

Between then and now, Shiffrin went five straight World Cup races without finishing on the podium, her longest drought since she notched the first of her 10 World Cup victories two years ago.

Shiffrin felt she regained her confidence before the second run of her last race, a slalom in Are, Sweden, on Saturday. She had the fastest time to improve from fifth after the first run to finish fourth, .02 off the podium.

There are three more World Cup super-Gs in January before the World Championships in February. Shiffrin has said a goal was to race in the super-G at the World Championships, which are near her home in Colorado.

If Shiffrin still harbors that goal, her mission is complicated by a rule that the U.S. can enter no more than four skiers in a World Championships race.

The regular U.S. speed-event skiers excelled in the first speed races of the season in Lake Louise, Alberta, last weekend.

Lindsey Vonn, Julia Mancuso, Stacey Cook and Laurenne Ross all finished in the top 10 of both downhills in Lake Louise.

In the season’s only super-G so far, Vonn was second, Mancuso sixth, Cook 23rd and Ross 24th.

Shiffrin raced two lower-level super-Gs in November and finished more than a half-second behind Ross both times. Vonn, Mancuso and Cook were not in those fields.

Shiffrin is expected to make her next World Cup starts in a giant slalom and slalom in Semmering, Austria, in two weeks.

Video: Hirscher holds off Ligety in Are

Penny Oleksiak edges Simone Manuel, Regan Smith sizzles again in Knoxville

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Penny Oleksiak and Simone Manuel nearly duplicated their Olympic gold-medal tie. The Canadian Oleksiak edged Manuel by .03 in the 100m freestyle at a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., on Sunday night.

Oleksiak clocked 53.41 seconds, coming back from .37 behind Manuel at the 50-meter mark. The two tied for the Rio Olympic title in an Olympic record 52.70 seconds four years ago. Oleksiak was the surprise, a 16-year-old who came into the Games ranked eighth in the world for the year.

Since, Manuel swept the 2017 and 2019 World titles. Oleksiak was sixth at 2017 Worlds and withdrew before the 100m free at 2019 Worlds. She ranked 21st in the world last year. Oleksiak’s time Sunday was her fastest since 2017.

Full Knoxville meet results are here. The Pro Series’ next stop is Des Moines from March 4-7.

In other events Sunday, world-record holder Regan Smith won the 200m backstroke in 2:05.94, the fastest time ever outside of a national championships or major international meet. Smith, 17, achieved the same feat on Saturday in the 100m back, where she also broke the world record at last summer’s worlds.

Madisyn Cox won a matchup of the three fastest U.S. women in the 200m individual medley in 2019. She clocked 2:09.88, beating Alex Walsh by a half-second and Melanie Margalis by .54.

It was Cox’s fastest time since she took bronze at the 2017 World Championships. She missed the 2019 Worlds after failing a 2018 drug test over what she said was a contaminated multivitamin.

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Mikaela Shiffrin among favorites eliminated early in parallel giant slalom

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Mikaela Shiffrin was upset in the round of 16 of the first World Cup parallel giant slalom by unheralded Frenchwoman Clara Direz, who went on to earn her first win on Sunday.

Shiffrin had the fastest qualifying time but was bounced in the second round of head-to-head racing in Sestriere by Direz. Direz, 24, came into the day with a best career finish of seventh.

Direz was 16th-fastest in qualifying, 1.02 seconds behind Shiffrin combining times from two runs. Direz edged Shiffrin by .13 in their head-to-head run. Shiffrin appeared to be at a disadvantage being put on the red course, which produced just three winners among 20 one-run matchups.

“It is fun; I think I like the parallel GS actually more than the parallel slalom, but it’s a little bit difficult,” Shiffrin said. “I think there’s still a lot of work we have to do, and FIS [the International Ski Federation] has to do to really make the race as even as it can be because for sure you can see, there’s always a faster course. But today it’s like they’re not even the same course at all. Especially in the last four, five gates on the blue course, you can even see just looking up the hill that it’s straighter than the red course.

“Today I would say it’s a day where the luck [of which course you draw randomly] really plays a role.”

Direz eventually beat Austrian Elisa Moerzinger in the final. Direz was on the blue course for three of her four one-run rounds. Full results are here.

Higher-ranked racers used to be have their choice of courses in the parallel format.

“Maybe that wasn’t fair, either, but I think there must be a way to make it something that is more even, but at the same time, yeah, I don’t really have the answers on how to do that, either,” Shiffrin said. “It’s still in its infancy, this event.”

Shiffrin has a track record of success in parallel slaloms and similar city events, winning five of her last six starts. But the parallel GS proved problematic for the world’s best in slalom.

Swiss Wendy Holdener and Slovakian Petra Vlhova were also eliminated before the quarterfinals after being second- and third-fastest in qualifying. Holdener was also on the red course. Vlhova lost in the round of 32, when skiers were taking runs on both the blue and red courses.

Sestriere marked the last weekend of technical races (slaloms/giant slaloms) until mid-February. The next three weekends feature downhills and super-Gs. Shiffrin is expected to travel to Bansko, Bulgaria, for the first set on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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