Lindsey Vonn wins fourth straight race after Mikaela Shiffrin injures knee

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Lindsey Vonn won her first giant slalom since her career-altering 2013 World Championships crash, proving Saturday (against an unaccomplished field) that she’s the world’s best healthy and active skier.

Vonn captured her fourth straight victory and 71st overall, prevailing by .07 of a second over two runs in Åre, Sweden (full results). Once before has Vonn won four straight World Cup races, in December 2011.

It came hours after countrywoman Mikaela Shiffrin suffered a knee injury in warm-ups.

Vonn padded her standings lead for the World Cup overall title, the top prize this season with no Olympics or World Championships.

“The old woman still has some tricks up her sleeve,” Vonn, 31, told media in Åre. “I’m not maybe as agile as I used to be. I’m not maybe as explosive. … My experience paid off.”

Shiffrin stands in second place — 104 points behind — but is now very much in doubt to rival Vonn’s quest for a fifth overall title the rest of the season.

Vonn, whose best disciplines are the faster downhill and super-G, last won a giant slalom on Jan. 26, 2013.

Ten days later, she crashed at the World Championships, causing the first of two major knee surgeries that forced her out of the Sochi Olympics.

“I’m surprised because I haven’t skied very much [giant slalom],” Vonn told media in Åre after her leading first run Saturday. “I was hoping to be in the top three, but at the same time I knew that if I could arc and ski aggressively that I could win, because I’ve done it here before.”

Vonn skipped the season-opening giant slalom Oct. 24, recovering after suffering an ankle fracture in an Aug. 13 crash, and then skied off the course in the last giant slalom Nov. 27.

The bulk of her preparation for Saturday came Friday night and ski-less, when Vonn watched video of her Åre giant slalom victory from March 9, 2012.

“I haven’t done really any GS training,” Vonn said, laughing, after her first run. “It’s basically just going off confidence.”

Vonn was adamant that she would not race Sunday’s slalom.

“I’m young enough to still be able to ski well in GS, but not young enough to still be good at slalom,” she said, laughing.

The women’s tour this season is already missing the last two World Cup overall champions — Anna Fenninger (knee surgery) and Tina Maze (break). Injuries to Shiffrin and Swedish technical skier Sara Hector on Saturday concerned Vonn.

“Ski racing needs Mikaela and Sara,” she said. “We can’t afford to lose any more athletes.”

Vonn, though, was unaffected by the sport’s mounting crashes in regard to her own skiing, despite her own injury-filled past.

“I have nothing to lose,” Vonn said. “I think that makes me a dangerous competitor, because I’m not afraid of falling or losing. … That’s how I roll. I take risk, and that’s what makes me fast. It’s what makes me fall, sometimes, but that’s the part of the game. I’d rather fall and be going fast than be safely in the finish and be really slow. I’m always going to push myself to the limit.”

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Mo Farah likely to retire this year

Mo Farah
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British track legend Mo Farah will likely retire by the end of this year.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics, and I think 2023 will probably be my last year,” the 39-year-old Farah said, according to multiple British media reports.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, was announced Tuesday as part of the field for the London Marathon on April 23.

Last May, Farah reportedly said he believed his career on the track was over, but not the roads.

London might not be his last marathon. Farah also said that if, toward the end of this year, he was capable of being picked to run for Britain again, he would “never turn that down,” according to Tuesday’s reports.

It’s not clear if Farah was referencing the world track and field championships, which include a marathon and are in Budapest in August. Or selection for the 2024 British Olympic marathon team.

The fastest British male marathoner last year ran 2:10:46, ranking outside the top 300 in the world. Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, but he hasn’t run one since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

Farah withdrew four days before the last London Marathon on Oct. 2, citing a right hip injury.

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah’s best London Marathon finish in four starts was third place in 2018.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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