Galen Rupp ‘open’ to Olympic marathon trials

Galen Rupp
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Galen Rupp likes to tell the story of the first time the Olympics came into his view, as a sophomore at Portland’s Central Catholic High School in 2001 or 2002.

He remembers his coach, three-time New York City Marathon champion Alberto Salazar, sitting him down after his season and laying out his career.

“We’re gonna take a really long-term approach; we’re not gonna give you too much too early,” Rupp said Salazar told him. “You know, physically, you probably are — we hope you make the Olympics in 2008, but physically you’re gonna be ready to go in ’12 and most likely ’16. That’s going to be your best shot to win.”

Rupp proved Salazar right by making the 2008 Olympic team at age 22 and then, in 2012, becoming the first U.S. man to earn an Olympic 10,000m medal in 48 years, a silver behind training partner and FIFA video-game rival Mo Farah.

And now, in what could be Rupp’s last Olympics with his best shot to win gold, he could take on a new challenge. The marathon.

Rupp decided to race a half marathon for the first time since 2011 in Portland on Sunday and easily prevailed ahead of costumed runners (a man dressed as an elf, another in the bunny suit from “A Christmas Story,” among others).

He clocked 1:01:20, comfortably under the 1:05:00 needed to qualify for the Olympic marathon trials Feb. 13 in Los Angeles. Whether Rupp toes the line of a 26.2-mile race for the first time there is still in question.

“Galen wants to keep all his options open,” Salazar said, according to Runner’s World. “No commitments one way or the other.”

Rupp previously signed up for the 2012 U.S. Olympic marathon trials — also, reportedly, because he wanted to keep his options open — with a qualifying time from the March 2011 New York half marathon (1:00:30).

But Rupp withdrew one week before the Jan. 14, 2012, marathon trials.

Many have wondered when Rupp, now 29, would make his marathon debut. And how he would fare.

He’s long been best at the 10,000m, making the Beijing 2008 team in the second-longest race on the Olympic program, breaking the American record in 2011 (and again in 2014) and taking that 2012 Olympic silver medal.

Rupp’s 1:01:20 on Sunday ranks second among U.S. men for 2015, behind U.S. champion Diego Estrada, who is expected to make his 26.2-mile debut at the marathon trials.

The Olympic marathon trials favorite is Meb Keflezighi, a 40-year-old who owns an Olympic silver medal and Boston and New York marathon victories. The other top contender, three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein, has dealt with a hip injury this fall and didn’t contest a relay race with other men’s and women’s marathon hopefuls Sunday.

The top three at the trials will make the Rio Olympic team.

Rupp could race Feb. 13, finish top three, and later withdraw from the Olympic marathon team.

He could also make the Olympic team in the 10,000m at the track trials in July and race both distances in Rio, eight days apart.

“It’s a doable double at the Olympics,” Rupp said four years ago of the London Games, according to the Oregonian. “It would be hard, but they’re a week apart.”

Rupp said last month that he might take more risks in training in an Olympic year.

“We always have two peaks a year, so we’ll have one in the winter,” he said. “We always try to make sure that they’re calculated [risks] because it’s easy to get carried away, trying to do so much more just because it’s Olympics, but I think that’s where you really run into problems with getting hurt because you try to overdo it too much.”

Rupp’s goal is Olympic gold, and his best shot to do so may still be in the 10,000m.

Rupp followed the Olympic 10,000m silver by finishing fourth at the 2013 World Championships and fifth at this past summer’s Worlds. Farah won all of those races and appears an overwhelming favorite to repeat in Rio.

“I was really disappointed to finish fifth,” Rupp said last month of his 27:08.91 time in Beijing on Aug. 22. “If that had been six years ago, I would’ve broken the American record in 90-degree heat, basically. So I ran really, really solidly, I thought, but sometimes you can’t control what place you get.”

He’s focused offseason training on paying more attention to his diet, yoga and upper-body stretches.

“Say I had gotten second or third, gotten my medal in Beijing, I would’ve maybe been a little disappointed, but we would’ve been, hey, we’re still right there,” Rupp said. “Maybe we wouldn’t have found all those other things [to work on].”

VIDEO: Rupp, Ashton Eaton part of Nike Oregon ‘Animal House’ tribute

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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