New chef, new coach, but same ‘goofball’ Ryan Lochte

Ryan Lochte
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1. Ryan Lochte has grown to enjoy eating greens with his new chef, who prepared meals for LeBron James for five years.

“This is what I wish I listened to when I was in college, or before that,” Lochte said. “How did I get those gold medals, how did I get to the Olympics eating all this crap?”

But Lochte sticks to his tradition of pizza and wings every Friday night.

2. After 11 years in Gainesville, Fla., Lochte moved to Charlotte in 2013 to work under a coach he calls a “mad scientist,” who would help him focus on shorter events.

“To start a new swimming career,” Lochte said.

But Lochte is again dipping his toes into his most time-consuming race from previous Olympic cycles, the grueling 400m individual medley.

3. Lochte said he considered quitting the sport twice following the London 2012 Games — after the burnout from his reality TV show and while sidelined after tearing a left knee ligament twice in a six-month span in 2013 and 2014.

“I had a lot of doubt that I was never going to be the same swimmer again,” he said.

But last year Lochte captured his fourth straight World title in the 200m individual medley. He left the World Championships as the only U.S. man with an individual gold medal.

Lochte, 31, is approaching what could be his fourth and final Olympics with some things old and some things new.

The 11-time Olympic medalist never pulls up his past races on YouTube. Lochte’s recollection of his first Olympics in 2004 is instead a little bit different.

“Long hair, eating McDonald’s, just being a total goofball,” he said. “I guess not much has changed, except for the long hair and eating McDonald’s.”

The friendly rivalry with Michael Phelps remains, too.

They went one-two in their first Olympic head-to-head in the Athens 2004 200m individual medley. Last year, Phelps and Lochte were the only two men in the world to break 1:56 in the 200m individual medley.

It’s been noted that Phelps can become the oldest individual Olympic swimming champion of all time in August. But Lochte is one year older than Phelps.

Lochte is mum on what he will race at the Olympic trials (like Phelps), how much longer he will continue swimming after the Rio Games (unlike Phelps) and if he’ll stay in Charlotte training under David Marsh after the Olympics.

An enduring Lochte trait is his spirited attitude toward his career, audible as he sings and makes animal noises in practice.

It will be time to hang up the cap and goggles when he no longer feels like that pool-deck goofball.

“When I wake up and I don’t want to go to a swimming pool,” Lochte said. “Once I start thinking that swimming is a job.”

VIDEO: New Michael Phelps Under Armour spot

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

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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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