Aliya Mustafina, Viktoria Komova named to Russia’s World Championships team

Aliya Mustafina, Viktoria Komova
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Russia named Olympic all-around silver and bronze medalists Viktoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina to its World Championships team Wednesday, according to Russian media, though one of them may not compete in Glasgow, Scotland, in the last month of October.

That’s because it named seven women to the team. It must designate one of the seven as an alternate before Worlds, which are a six-woman-per-team affair.

Komova and Mustafina, both 20, shared the London 2012 all-around podium with Gabby Douglas, who is in the running to be named to the U.S. team for Worlds in October.

Komova, the 2011 Worlds and 2012 Olympic all-around silver medalist, missed the 2013 and 2014 Worlds as she’s been set back by health problems since the London Games.

In 2011, Komova led Jordyn Wieber going into the final rotation in the all-around at the World Championships in Tokyo. But Wieber came back to win by .033.

In 2012, Komova had the highest score in Olympic all-around qualifying in London. Douglas beat her by .259 in the all-around final to become the third straight U.S. woman to win the most coveted title in gymnastics.

Mustafina, the 2010 World all-around champion and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, was originally quoted as saying she would miss this year’s Worlds, mainly due to a back injury, in Russian media.

The Russians took silver behind the U.S. at the 2012 Olympics and bronze behind the U.S. and China at the 2014 World Championships.

The seven-woman Russian team for Worlds also includes Maria Paseka and Ksenia Afanasyeva, 2012 Olympians who missed the 2013 and 2014 Worlds.

The new Russian star may be Daria Spiridonova, who won the Russian Cup all-around earlier this month and was also put on the seven-woman team for Glasgow.

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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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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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