Dara Torres to Michael Phelps: ‘Welcome to the club’

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OMAHA — Dara Torres found Michael Phelps at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Wednesday night and had four words for him.

“Welcome to the club.”

Phelps, by winning the 200m butterfly at Trials, joined Torres as the only swimmers to make five U.S. Olympic teams. Those who made four — Amanda Beard, Jason LezakRyan LochteJill Sterkel and Jenny Thompson.

Torres, a 12-time Olympic medalist who retired twice before making the 2008 Olympic team at age 41, noted a similarity between her and Phelps’ fifth Games.

“He can share this with his son one day,” said Torres, whose daughter, Tessa, was 2 years old when she earned three silver medals in Beijing. “That’s the one thing I was excited about when I had my daughter in ‘08. When she is old enough to understand it, I can share it with her.”

Phelps and Torres have known each other since at least the 2000 Sydney Games, when Phelps was the youngest U.S. swimmer at 15 and Torres was the oldest at 33. Phelps jokingly called Torres “mom” while in Australia.

“I don’t even think he had hair on his body yet,” Torres said last year. “I’ll never forget, I still had the 50m freestyle left, and he swam his race [placing fifth in the 200m butterfly]. He was there the next day training. I was kidding around, and I went up to his coach, and I didn’t know Bob Bowman that well at all, but I said, ‘Doesn’t this kid ever get a break?’ He was like, ‘No, he’s training for 2004 now.’ I was like, oh my gosh. He was so serious, Bob was. I couldn’t believe it, but as the years went on and the accomplishments he made, you understand the psyche and why he was doing that.

MORE: Olympic Swimming Trials broadcast schedule

Torres saw Phelps again last summer at the U.S. Championships in San Antonio, where Phelps posted the fastest times in the world for the year in the 100m and 200m butterflies and the 200m individual medley.

She almost didn’t recognize him.

A man with a big, bushy beard walked by her at a hotel and said, “Hey.” Torres paused for a second in confusion before turning around and realizing it was Phelps (before he shaved for his races). They shared breakfast.

“He told me he was doing better and enjoying swimming again,” Torres said. “He was relaxed, mellow. Maybe he just woke up.”

MORE: Phelps watches 2012 Olympic 200m butterfly for first time

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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