Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin takes third straight World Cup slalom season title (video)

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Mikaela Shiffrin became the first skier in 20 years to win three straight World Cup slalom season titles, adding another crystal globe to her trophy case and winning the World Cup Finals in Meribel, France, on Saturday.

Shiffrin, who only needed to finish in the top 15 to take the season title, jumped from second place after the first of two runs to beat Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter by .05. It was Shiffrin’s 15th career World Cup victory.

“I had to pull a lot out of myself that second run in order to even beat her by a little bit,” Shiffrin, who was .07 behind after the first run, said in a finish-area interview. “I definitely didn’t want to throw everything away, but I also wanted to put something on the limit.”

Slovenia’s Tina Maze was fourth Saturday, moving 18 points ahead of Austrian Anna Fenninger for the World Cup overall lead. If Maze and Fenninger both are in the top three in Sunday’s final giant slalom, the higher finisher will win the overall title.

The last woman before Shiffrin to take three straight slalom season titles was Swiss Vreni Schneider, who bagged four straight from 1992 through 1995.

Shiffrin, 20, has won every Olympic, World Championships and World Cup Finals slalom the last three seasons — going six for six.

“I hope I’m always considered a rising star,” Shiffrin told media in Meribel. “This is a really special time for me to be always climbing and progressing, getting better. … I don’t necessarily ever want to be considered the star. I like the rising star.”

She captured this season’s title by 110 points, as opposed to 150 last season, but she recovered from the worst slump of her young career early in the season by changing equipment.

Shiffrin could be the best in the discipline for quite some time, given the six women closest to her in the standings are all at least eight years older.

Shiffrin also hopes to continue her progress in the giant slalom in her season finale Sunday at the World Cup Finals.

Shiffrin, who improved from 49th to 19th to seventh in the World Cup giant slalom standings the previous three season, stands third this year. She could finish as high as second with a strong result Sunday, with Lindsey Vonn also in the race.

“Part of what I need to learn in GS is how to take some risk and how to really put it on the line,” Shiffrin said. “A lot of the best GS skiers are also speed skiers, and in order to ski speed fast, you have to not second-guess yourself. Just go, all-out, all the time. I don’t know if I have that skill yet.”

Watch Lindsey Vonn tie legend’s record for crystal globes

Sam Girard, Olympic short track champion, surprisingly retires at age 22

Sam Girard
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Sam Girard, who avoided a three-skater pileup to win the PyeongChang Olympic 1000m, retired from short track speed skating at age 22, saying he lost the desire to compete.

“I leave my sport satisfied with what I have accomplished,” Girard said in a press release. “This decision was very well thought through. I am at peace with the choice that I’ve made and am ready to move onto the next step.”

Girard and girlfriend and fellow Olympic skater Kasandra Bradette announced their careers end together in a tearful French-language press conference in Quebec on Friday.

Girard detailed the decision in a letter, the sacrifices made to pursue skating. Notably, moving from his hometown of Ferland-et-Boilleau, population 600, to Montreal in 2012. His hobbies had been of the outdoor variety, but he now had to drive an hour and a half from the training center just to go fishing.

In PyeongChang, Girard led for most of the 1000m final, which meant he avoided chaos behind him on the penultimate lap of the nine-lap race. Hungarian Liu Shaolin Sandor‘s inside pass took out South Koreans Lim Hyo-Jun and Seo Yi-Ra, leaving just Girard and American John-Henry Krueger.

Girard maintained his lead, crossing .214 in front of Krueger to claim the title. He also finished fourth in the 500m and 1500m and earned bronze in the relay.

“My first Olympics, won a gold medal, can’t ask for more,” he said afterward.

Though Girard was already accomplished — earning individual silver medals at the 2016 and 2017 Worlds — he came to PyeongChang as the heir apparent to Charles Hamelin, a roommate on the World Cup circuit whom Girard likened to a big brother. Girard earned another world silver medal this past season.

Hamelin, after taking individual gold in 2010 and 2014, left PyeongChang without an individual medal in what many expected to be his last Olympics. However, he went back on a retirement vow and continued to skate through the 2018-19 season.

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MORE: J.R. Celski explains decision to retire

Maia, Alex Shibutani extend break from ice dance competition

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Brother-sister ice dance duo Maia and Alex Shibutani will not compete next season, the Olympic bronze medalists announced via U.S. Figure Skating on Friday.

“We’re healthier and stronger than we were after the Olympics, and we’re continuing to push ourselves,” Maia Shibutani said in a press release.

“We’ve continued to skate a lot, and we feel like we’ve benefited from some time away to create in different environments and focus on experiences that can help us grow,” Alex said.

The “Shib Sibs” won the U.S. title in 2016 and 2017. They won their first world medal in 2011 (bronze) before reaching the world podium again in 2016 and 2017 with silver and bronze, respectively.

They most recently competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where they earned bronze both individually and in the team event.

Maia and Alex Shibutani are now the second ice dance medalists from PyeongChang to announce they’ll sit out at least part of next season. Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada will tour instead this fall and are not expected to return to competition.

The siblings haven’t stayed away from the ice entirely in their break from the sport, though — they’ve also been touring and performing in shows.

The Shibutanis became the second set of siblings to earn Olympic ice dance medals after France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay in 1992.

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