‘Snow Queen’ Mikaela Shiffrin dominates Zagreb slalom (video)

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Mikaela Shiffrin began 2015 the way she finished 2014, winning her second straight World Cup slalom race and putting an early-season slump further behind her.

Shiffrin, who became the youngest Olympic slalom champion in Sochi, dominated to earn the “Snow Queen” title in Zagreb, Croatia, on Sunday.

She posted the fastest time in both runs and prevailed by 1.68 seconds over Austrian Kathrin Zettel. Norway’s Nina Loeseth was third.

“Mikaela is from a different planet,” Zettel said, according to The Associated Press. “It looks like nothing can go wrong.”

It marked Shiffrin’s largest margin of victory of her 12 career World Cup wins.

“For the first time in my career, I feel like I’m in complete control,” Shiffrin, who did a crossword puzzle and hugged Croatian legend Janica Kostelic before racing, said in a Zagreb press conference.

Shiffrin earned a queen’s crown, robe and sat on a throne for her victory. Shiffrin won the same race two years ago, and her crown broke.

She also jumped from fourth into second place in the World Cup season slalom standings, through five of nine races. She is one point behind Swedish leader Frida Hansdotter.

She’s won consecutive races after going five races without a podium finish and six without a win, the longest droughts since she won her first World Cup race more than two years ago.

She fought illness, put off making her World Cup super-G debut and focused on fixing her slalom, including equipment changes.

It worked.

Shiffrin won her 11th career World Cup slalom race Sunday, matching the record for most victories in the discipline before turning 20 years old. France’s Perrine Pelen also took 11 in the 1970s and ’80s.

Shiffrin will have two more chances for No. 12 before turning 20 on March 13.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup continues with a downhill and super-G in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria, next weekend. Lindsey Vonn is expected to compete. Shiffrin said Sunday she won’t race a super-G before the World Championships in February, much to the chagrin of World Cup overall leader Tina Maze.

15 Olympic sports events to watch in 2015

12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell
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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

Francesco Friedrich
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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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