Allyson Felix wins 400m, breaks U.S. record for Worlds medals; Rio preview?

Allyson Felix
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Allyson Felix won her record-breaking ninth World Championships gold medal and 11th overall, but first in the 400m, taking the one-lap race in Beijing on Thursday night.

It may set her up for a daunting Rio Olympic double.

At the Bird’s Nest, Felix clocked a personal-best 49.26 seconds to break her tie with Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson for the most Worlds gold medals won by an American. She also broke her tie with Lewis and LaShawn Merritt for the most Worlds medals by an American. She also became the first woman to win World titles in the 200m (she has three) and the 400m.

Felix took gold over the Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller (49.67) and Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson (49.99).

“I never really thought I’d see this day,” Felix told Lewis Johnson on Universal Sports.

Felix, the Olympic 200m champion, had the option of racing the 200m, the 400m or both in Beijing. She chose the 400m solely, partly because she deemed the 200m-400m double wasn’t doable given the 200m semifinals and 400m final were about an hour apart Thursday.

She chose the 400m over her longtime trademark 200m because she wanted to challenge herself over the longer distance.

The challenge could have been greater. Neither Olympic 400m champion Sanya Richards-Ross nor the world’s fastest woman in the event before Thursday, Francena McCorory, made the team in the event at the U.S. Championships in June.

Felix ran the 200m and 400m at the 2011 World Championships, with one day off between events, and won silver in the 400m and then bronze in the 200m. For the 2012 Olympics, Felix chose the 100m to complement her 200m, finishing fifth in the 100m before capturing her first individual Olympic gold in the 200m.

Now that the three-time Olympian Felix has her individual Olympic title, she has more freedom to explore in 2016.

Felix has said her coach would voice his opinion to officials about the Rio Olympic track and field schedule, where the 200m first round and 400m final are a little more than an hour apart.

“If I’m fit enough to do it, I would [run the 200m and 400m at the Olympics],” Felix told Johnson on Universal Sports, later telling media in Beijing, “It has to be one of those perfect storm type of things.”

Felix said if she could run only one event at the Rio Olympics, she would choose the 200m.

If the Rio schedule could be changed to allow one day off between the 200m and 400m (as it was for Johnson to race the 200m and 400m in Atlanta 1996), Felix might be more inclined to attempt the 200m-400m double at the Olympics.

“I’ve put in my time,” Felix said, according to The New York Times. “But that’s all on the people in charge of the scheduling, and I understand that there are a lot of things that go into that. There are also some other great people who can do that double, as well. It’s a pretty common double, so I think for us and for the future, it would be a good thing for the sport.”

Two women have won the 200m and 400m at one Olympics (when there was at least one day off between events) — American Valerie Brisco-Hooks in 1984 and France’s Marie-Jose Perec in 1996.

Felix could earn two more medals in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays this weekend.

World Championships: Broadcast schedule | Video: South African stretchered off after 400m gold

Video: Usain Bolt’s only loss at the Olympics

In a tie, Wendy Holdener puts to rest a remarkable stat in Alpine skiing

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Swiss Wendy Holdener ended one of the most remarkable victory droughts in sports by tying for the win with Swede Anna Swenn Larsson in a World Cup slalom in Killington, Vermont, on Sunday.

Holdener, after 15 second-place finishes and 15 third-place finishes in her career, stood on the top step of a World Cup slalom podium for the first time. She shared it with Swenn Larsson, who had six World Cup slalom podiums before Sunday and also earned her first win.

They beat Austrian Katharina Truppe by .22 of a second combining times from two runs.

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Holdener, 29, previously won three World Cups in other disciplines, plus two world championships in the combined and Olympic and world titles in the team event.

“To be tied first when I came into the finish was such a relief,” Holdener said while shoulder to shoulder with Swenn Larsson. “On the end, it’s perfect, because now we can share our first win together.”

Mikaela Shiffrin had the best first-run time but lost her lead midway through the second run and finished fifth. Shiffrin, who won the first two slaloms this season last weekend, was bidding for a 50th World Cup slalom victory and a sixth win in six slaloms in Killington.

“I fought. I think some spots I got a little bit off my timing, but I was pushing, and that’s slalom,” she said before turning her attention to Holdener and Swenn Larsson. “It’s a pretty special day, actually.”

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves next weekend to Lake Louise, Alberta, with two downhills and a super-G.

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Injured Ilia Malinin wins Grand Prix Finland, qualifies for Grand Prix Final

Ilia Malinin
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Ilia Malinin, competing “a little bit injured” this week, still won Grand Prix Finland and goes into the Grand Prix Final in two weeks as the world’s top-ranked male singles skater.

Malinin, who was second after Friday’s short program, landed four clean quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate to overtake Frenchman Kevin Aymoz.

Malinin, who landed a quad flip in competition for the first time, according to SkatingScores.com, also attempted a quad Axel to open his program, but spun out of the landing and put his hand down on the ice.

Malinin also won his previous two starts this season in come-from-behind fashion. The 17-year-old world junior champion became the first skater to land a clean, fully rotated quad Axel in September, then did it again in October at Skate America, where he posted the world’s top overall score this season.

Next, Malinin can become the second-youngest man to win the Grand Prix Final after Russian Yevgeny Plushenko. His biggest competition is likely to be world champion Shoma Uno of Japan, who like Malinin won both of his Grand Prix starts this fall. Malinin and Uno have not gone head-to-head this season.

Grand Prix Finland highlights air on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

FIGURE SKATING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier, Japan’s Mai Mihara overtook world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium to become the only woman to win both of her Grand Prix starts this season. Mihara prevailed by .23 of a point. The top three women this season by best total score are Japanese, led by a junior skater, 14-year-old Mao Shimada, who isn’t Olympic age-eligible until 2030.

Mihara and Hendrickx qualified for the Grand Prix Final, joining world champion Kaori Sakamoto and Rinka Watanabe, both of Japan, South Korean Yelim Kim and American Isabeau Levito, the world junior champion.

Italians Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini won both pairs’ programs and qualified for their first Grand Prix Final.

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara and Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier headline the Final. Both pairs won each of their Grand Prix starts earlier this fall. The Japanese have the world’s two best scores this season. The Americans are reigning world champions.

At least one Russian or Chinese pair made every Grand Prix Final podium — usually pairs from both countries — but neither nation competed in pairs this Grand Prix season. All Russian skaters are banned due to the war in Ukraine. China’s lone entry on the Grand Prix across all disciplines was an ice dance couple.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier improved on their world-leading score for this season in winning the ice dance by 17.03 points over Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. Both couples qualified for the Grand Prix Final in the absence of all three Olympic medalists this fall.

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