Mikaela Shiffrin makes podium in season opener

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Mikaela Shiffrin finished second to Italian Federica Brignone in the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Saturday.

Shiffrin, the Olympic, World and World Cup slalom champion, was seeking her first solo World Cup giant slalom victory but finished .85 of a second behind Brignone after two combined runs on the Rettenbach glacier.

“I had more confidence than I have had in a [giant slalom] before, so I think it’s a good place to start,” Shiffrin said in a press conference. “I was nervous. The last couple of weeks I’ve been more and more nervous each day. Then the past, about yesterday and today, all of a sudden it was like I’m sick of being nervous. I just want to ski well.”

Shiffrin tied for the win in Soelden last year with World Cup overall champion Anna Fenninger, who is out for the season with knee injuries following a training crash earlier this week.

Brignone, who made the first of her seven previous World Cup podiums at age 19 in 2009, took her first career World Cup win. She was fastest in the first run, .95 ahead of Shiffrin, and held on with the ninth-fastest second run.

“I’m grown up,” Brignone said in a finish-area interview.

Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather was third followed by Swiss Lara Gut. Weirather and Gut could challenge Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn for the World Cup overall title, the biggest prize this season with no Olympics or World Championships.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to win the overall globe,” Shiffrin said. “But I think this year is a little bit of a gauge to see where I can stack up. Obviously today is a really good start. … It’s a little bit early to tell.”

Vonn, a four-time World Cup overall champion, opted not to race Soelden after skiing on snow in Austria on Thursday and Friday for the first time since fracturing an ankle in an August training crash. She’s expected to debut this season in the next giant slalom in Aspen, Colo., on Nov. 28.

The men’s season opener in Soelden, featuring Olympic and World champion Ted Ligety, is Sunday.

The women’s World Cup continues with a slalom in Levi, Finland, on Nov. 14.

“After an Olympic gold medal and a couple of World Championships gold medals, I feel like I can kind of relax a little bit,” Shiffrin said. “I don’t have pressure like I have to win a big event.”

MORE ALPINE SKIING: Men’s season preview

Joey Mantia extends U.S. medal streak at speed skating worlds; Dutch dominance returns

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Joey Mantia ensured the host U.S. finished with a medal at the world single distances championships. Ireen WüstKjeld Nuis and Jorrit Bergsma ensured the Netherlands finished atop the medal standings.

Mantia joined Shani Davis as the only U.S. men to earn individual medals at three different editions of the championships, taking bronze in the 1500m on the last day of the speed skating meet at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Mantia won the mass start at the last two worlds in 2017 and 2019 (and finished fifth on Sunday, after the 1500m bronze).

Mantia clocked a personal best 1:42.16 in the fifth of 12 pairs of the 1500m. It held up until Nuis (1:41.66) and countryman Thomas Krol (1:41.73) in the last two pairs.

Mantia’s medal extended the U.S. streak of making the podium at every world championships this millennium — 16 straight. The single bronze is the smallest medal output since 2000.

Full results are here.

Wüst and Nuis gave the Dutch a sweep of the men’s and women’s 1500m titles, two years after they did the same at the PyeongChang Olympics. Bergsma, an Olympic and world 10,000m champion, earned his first global medal of any color — gold — in the 16-lap mass start.

The Netherlands failed to earn any golds on the first two days of the four-day competition. The dominant Dutch, who topped the medal standings at every Olympics and worlds dating to the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, entered Sunday trailing Russia.

But Wüst began the day by clocking 1:50.92 to win the 1500m by .21 over Russian Yevgenia Lalenkova. American medal hope Brittany Bowe, the 2015 World champion who took bronze last year, finished 14th a day after taking eighth in her world-record 1000m distance.

Nuis and Krol went one-two in the men’s 1500m to tie Russia’s medal total. Then Irene Schouten took bronze in the women’s mass start to put the Netherlands ahead for good, followed by Bergsma’s capper.

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MORE: Shani Davis retires, takes new role in speed skating

Netherlands on the board; more world records at speed skating worlds

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It took four world records from other countries before the Netherlands won its first title in an Olympic program event at the world single distances speed skating championships.

Jutta Leerdam got the dominant skating nation on the board on the third day of the four-day competition and in the ninth Olympic program event. Leerdam scored an upset over defending champion and world-record holder Brittany Bowe, the American who ended up eighth.

Leerdam, 21, prevailed despite having zero World Cup podiums to her name. She clocked 1:11.84, just .23 slower than Bowe’s world record set on the same Utah Olympic Oval last year. Bowe, who recently had her yearlong win streak snapped in the 1000m, finished in 1:12.92.

“It’s a nightmare,” Bowe said, according to media on site.

Later, the Netherlands won the men’s team pursuit in a world record 3:34.68, the fifth world record in Olympic events the last two days on the world’s fastest ice at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Full results are here.

The world championships conclude Sunday, highlighted by American Joey Mantia defending his world title in the mass start.

In other Saturday events, both the men’s 1000m and women’s 5000m world records fell. On Friday, world records were lowered in the men’s 10,000m and women’s team pursuit.

Pavel Kulizhnikov followed his Friday world 500m title with the 1000m crown, repeating his double gold from 2016. Kulizhnikov was one of the Russians banned from the PyeongChang Olympics after he served a prior doping ban.

On Saturday, Kulizhnikov clocked 1:05.69 to take .49 off Dutchman Kjeld Nuis‘ record from last March, also set at Salt Lake City. Nuis, the Olympic 1000m and 1500m champion, took silver, 1.03 seconds behind.

Russian Natalya Voronina and Czech Martina Sablikova both went under Sablikova’s world record in the 5000m. Voronina came out on top in 6:39.02, 2.99 seconds faster than Sablikova’s record from a year ago and 2.16 seconds faster than Sablikova on Saturday.

Voronina’s time would have been the men’s world record as recently as 1993. Sablikova won the previous 10 world titles in the event dating to 2007.

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