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How Missy Franklin and Mikaela Shiffrin became friends

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Mikaela Shiffrin, covered in sweat from working out, gave a big hug to Missy Franklin when they met for the first time this summer.

“The moment I met Miki,” Franklin said, “I knew I had found a friend for life.”

Ever since the 2014 Winter Olympics, Shiffrin had heard that she reminded people of Franklin. Both are Colorado natives with bubbly personalities who won Olympic gold medals before turning 19. But since their offseasons don’t overlap, they were never in the same place at the same time.

The two Olympians finally met in person in August. After swimming at the 2016 Olympics, Franklin booked a vacation to Vail, Colo. to unwind with her family. A mutual friend, NBC Sports executive Brett Goodman, orchestrated the meeting after reminding Franklin that Shiffrin lives and skis in Vail.

Franklin and Shiffrin compared their training schedules. Shiffrin, who believed that she had long days when she woke up at 7 a.m., learned that Franklin regularly wakes up at 4 a.m. Franklin thought she travelled a lot for swimming until she heard about Shiffrin’s itinerary for the World Cup season.

They swapped stories about staying in the Olympic Village, as well as about walking on red carpets.

“I felt like we were laughing all night,” Shiffrin said. “She will make fun of herself and not take anything too seriously. That is the way I am as well.”

The night ended early, since they are both elite athletes. At about 9:00 p.m., Franklin decided that it was time to go back to her hotel room.

“I was psyched because finally I wasn’t the one needing to go to bed first,” Shiffrin said.

They now talk regularly on the phone and via social media.

“I found a friend and a person that is cut from the exact same cloth as I am,” Franklin said. “I know our friendship and time together will only grow.”

They are not sure when their schedules will align to meet again in person, but they have discussed doing yoga together.

Shiffrin is confident that their next interaction will not take place in a swimming pool.

“I would probably drown,” Shiffrin said, laughing. “I would get a treadmill and do my cardio while she is in the pool.”

MORE: Stronger Mikaela Shiffrin eyes new goals

Tommy Ford ends U.S. men’s World Cup drought at Beaver Creek

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Tommy Ford earned his first World Cup win at age 30 and ended the U.S. men’s longest victory and podium droughts in two decades.

Ford won the giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Sunday, the last North American race on tour this season. He prevailed by eight tenths of a second combining times over two runs.

“It doesn’t beat doing it here. I’ve been working hard,” Ford, in his 86th World Cup start dating to 2009, said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “No secret, just kept it simple and really trusted what I was doing.”

Norwegians Henrik Kristoffersen and Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen were second and third. American Ted Ligety, fourth after the opening run, finished 11th.

Full results are here.

Ford became the first U.S. man to win a World Cup since Travis Ganong took a downhill on Jan. 27, 2017. He also became the first U.S. male podium finisher since Ligety in January 2018. Both were the longest droughts for the program since the late 1990s.

Ford, a 2010 and 2018 Olympian who missed the 2014 Olympics due to a broken femur, had been working toward this moment.

He finished a World Cup career-high fourth at the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 27. Last season, the Oregon native and former Dartmouth student had a pair of fifths.

The men’s World Cup moves to Val d’Isere, France, next weekend for a giant slalom and slalom.

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Katie Ledecky wins race by 30 seconds, takes back No. 1 ranking

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In her last race of the year, Katie Ledecky ensured she would finish 2019 as the world’s fastest 1500m freestyler.

Ledecky clocked 15:35.98 at the U.S. Open in Atlanta, winning the longest event on the Olympic pool program by 29.97 seconds. Typical for Ledecky, who owns the nine fastest times in history. This one came in at No. 8. Full meet results are here.

Ledecky scratched the 1500m free final at the summer world championships due to illness. Italian Simona Quadarella went on to win that title in 15:40.89, which was the world’s fastest time this year until Saturday night.

“I didn’t have time on my mind at all today. I just wanted to have a consistent swim,” Ledecky, undefeated in 1500m free finals for nine years, said on NBCSN. “That’s probably the best mile that I’ve had in a while.”

The women’s 1500m freestyle debuts at the Olympics in Tokyo. Ledecky is expected to add that to her Rio Olympic individual lineup of 200m, 400m and 800m frees, assuming she is top two in each event at the June Olympic trials.

In other events Saturday, Erika Brown handed Simone Manuel a rare defeat in the 100m freestyle. Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, clocked 53.42 and lowered her personal best by .71 between prelims and the final. Brown moved from sixth to fourth in the U.S. rankings this year, upping her stock as a contender to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool via a top-six finish at trials.

Brown previously lowered her personal best in the 50m free on Thursday. She ranks third in the U.S. this year in that event.

Emily Escobedo dealt Lilly King a rare domestic defeat in the 200m breaststroke. Escobedo lowered her personal best by .87 and clocked 2:22.00, moving to seventh fastest in the world this year and remaining fourth among Americans.

In the men’s 200m breast, Olympic champion Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan was beaten by Cody Miller, the Olympic 100m breast silver medalist. Both were slower than their best times this year.

The next significant swim meet is a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., from Jan. 16-19.

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