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Who were the fastest U.S. marathoners of 2016?

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New York City marked the end of the year’s major marathons. Though some fast times could still be posted, namely in Fukuoka in December, the American bests are likely all set.

It turned out to be a strong year for American marathoners placement-wise, thanks in large part to New York City, where the U.S. put a man and a woman on the podium in the same year for the first time since 1994.

The U.S.’ best finish in an annual World Marathon Major this year (Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, New York City), prior to New York City, was a seventh place from Serena Burla in Chicago.

The lack of success in city marathons can be chalked up to the Olympic year. Every elite U.S. marathoner chose the U.S. Olympic Trials in February over a spring marathon, and the six who made the Olympic team all skipped fall marathons.

At the Olympics, Galen Rupp took bronze for the first U.S. marathon medal since 2004. Combined with Jared Ward‘s sixth-place finish, the U.S. was the only nation to put two men in the top 10.

In the women’s race, the U.S. became the second nation ever to put three women in an Olympic marathon top nine — Shalane Flanagan was sixth, Desi Linden seventh and Amy Cragg ninth.

Simplified, the U.S. would have swept the golds if the Olympic marathons were team events.

Strictly looking at times, the U.S. was not particularly fast this year. Again, the Olympics are the reason.

The best Americans skipped the traditionally fast major marathons (London, Berlin, Chicago), and the Olympic Trials and the Rio Games were not fast races.

The fastest American man, Rupp, ran 2:10:05, which ranks him No. 108 in the world in 2016, according to the IAAF.

The top woman, Flanagan, ran 2:25:26, which ranks her No. 42 in the world this year.

The 10 fastest U.S. marathon times for men and women are below.

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Name Time Race Result
Galen Rupp 2:10:05 Rio Olympics Third
Galen Rupp 2:11:12 Olympic Trials First
Bobby Curtis 2:11:20 Frankfurt Fourth
Abdi Abdirahman 2:11:23 New York City Third
Jared Ward 2:11:30 Rio Olympics Sixth
Shadrack Biwott 2:12:01 New York City Fifth
Meb Keflezighi 2:12:20 Olympic Trials Second
Jared Ward 2:13:00 Olympic Trials Third
Diego Estrada 2:13:56 Chicago Eighth
Luke Puskedra 2:14:12 Olympic Trials Fourth

 

Name Time Race Result
Shalane Flanagan 2:25:26 Rio Olympics Sixth
Desi Linden 2:26:08 Rio Olympics Seventh
Molly Huddle 2:28:13 New York City Third
Amy Cragg 2:28:20 Olympic Trials First
Amy Cragg 2:28:25 Rio Olympics Ninth
Desi Linden 2:28:54 Olympic Trials Second
Shalane Flanagan 2:29:19 Olympic Trials Third
Lindsay Flanagan 2:29:28 Frankfurt Fourth
Sara Hall 2:30:06 London 12th
Kara Goucher 2:30:24 Olympic Trials Fourth

Penny Oleksiak edges Simone Manuel, Regan Smith sizzles again in Knoxville

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Penny Oleksiak and Simone Manuel nearly duplicated their Olympic gold-medal tie. The Canadian Oleksiak edged Manuel by .03 in the 100m freestyle at a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., on Sunday night.

Oleksiak clocked 53.41 seconds, coming back from .37 behind Manuel at the 50-meter mark. The two tied for the Rio Olympic title in an Olympic record 52.70 seconds four years ago. Oleksiak was the surprise, a 16-year-old who came into the Games ranked eighth in the world for the year.

Since, Manuel swept the 2017 and 2019 World titles. Oleksiak was sixth at 2017 Worlds and withdrew before the 100m free at 2019 Worlds. She ranked 21st in the world last year. Oleksiak’s time Sunday was her fastest since 2017.

Full Knoxville meet results are here. The Pro Series’ next stop is Des Moines from March 4-7.

In other events Sunday, world-record holder Regan Smith won the 200m backstroke in 2:05.94, the fastest time ever outside of a national championships or major international meet. Smith, 17, achieved the same feat on Saturday in the 100m back, where she also broke the world record at last summer’s worlds.

Madisyn Cox won a matchup of the three fastest U.S. women in the 200m individual medley in 2019. She clocked 2:09.88, beating Alex Walsh by a half-second and Melanie Margalis by .54.

It was Cox’s fastest time since she took bronze at the 2017 World Championships. She missed the 2019 Worlds after failing a 2018 drug test over what she said was a contaminated multivitamin.

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Mikaela Shiffrin among favorites eliminated early in parallel giant slalom

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Mikaela Shiffrin was upset in the round of 16 of the first World Cup parallel giant slalom by unheralded Frenchwoman Clara Direz, who went on to earn her first win on Sunday.

Shiffrin had the fastest qualifying time but was bounced in the second round of head-to-head racing in Sestriere by Direz. Direz, 24, came into the day with a best career finish of seventh.

Direz was 16th-fastest in qualifying, 1.02 seconds behind Shiffrin combining times from two runs. Direz edged Shiffrin by .13 in their head-to-head run. Shiffrin appeared to be at a disadvantage being put on the red course, which produced just three winners among 20 one-run matchups.

“It is fun; I think I like the parallel GS actually more than the parallel slalom, but it’s a little bit difficult,” Shiffrin said. “I think there’s still a lot of work we have to do, and FIS [the International Ski Federation] has to do to really make the race as even as it can be because for sure you can see, there’s always a faster course. But today it’s like they’re not even the same course at all. Especially in the last four, five gates on the blue course, you can even see just looking up the hill that it’s straighter than the red course.

“Today I would say it’s a day where the luck [of which course you draw randomly] really plays a role.”

Direz eventually beat Austrian Elisa Moerzinger in the final. Direz was on the blue course for three of her four one-run rounds. Full results are here.

Higher-ranked racers used to be have their choice of courses in the parallel format.

“Maybe that wasn’t fair, either, but I think there must be a way to make it something that is more even, but at the same time, yeah, I don’t really have the answers on how to do that, either,” Shiffrin said. “It’s still in its infancy, this event.”

Shiffrin has a track record of success in parallel slaloms and similar city events, winning five of her last six starts. But the parallel GS proved problematic for the world’s best in slalom.

Swiss Wendy Holdener and Slovakian Petra Vlhova were also eliminated before the quarterfinals after being second- and third-fastest in qualifying. Holdener was also on the red course. Vlhova lost in the round of 32, when skiers were taking runs on both the blue and red courses.

Sestriere marked the last weekend of technical races (slaloms/giant slaloms) until mid-February. The next three weekends feature downhills and super-Gs. Shiffrin is expected to travel to Bansko, Bulgaria, for the first set on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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