Shaun White, Kelly Clark top snowboarding halfpipe at Grand Prix Mammoth

Shaun White
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The thirty-somethings with five Olympic medals between them held off the field to win gold at the U.S. Grand Prix snowboarding halfpipe competition in Mammoth Mountain, Calif.

Shaun White proved he’s back in winning shape after undergoing ankle surgery in the fall. Unable to put together a clean run at last weekend’s X Games, he finished 11th of 12 riders. White looked much more comfortable today at his home mountain of Mammoth, taking the Grand Prix title with a score of 94.75. It was his first Grand Prix victory in just over four years.

“I didn’t have the nicest contest at X (Games),” White told U.S. Snowboarding, so I was excited to come here and be the normal me—put some runs down.

White, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is looking to make his fourth Olympic team next year. He finished fourth at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Watch Shaun White, at age 15, just miss 2002 Olympic team

Joining White on the podium to complete an American sweep were Ryan Wachendorfer, making his first Grand Prix podium at 21 years old, and Louie Vito, a 2010 Olympian.

In the women’s snowboarding halfpipe competition, 33-year-old Kelly Clark scored 91.75 to place first, an improvement on her fourth-place showing at the X Games. The Grand Prix in Mammoth is just her third competition after undergoing hip surgery. Clark  is a four-time Olympian with one gold and two bronze medals.

The lone non-American to make the snowboarding halfpipe this weekend was Japan’s Haruna Matsumoto, who finished second behind Clark. In third was the U.S.’ Hannah Teter, a two-time Olympic medalist in the event.

Kelly, Matsumoto and Teter were the only women able to compete in the final. The three other qualified riders, including teenage phenom Chloe Kim, had to leave the competition before the windy weather abated and the final could be contested. Kim finished fourth based on her qualification scores.

“I’m really happy to put down a run like I did today,” Clark said. “I think regardless of the circumstances or how many people are in the event you want to do the run you came to do and that’s what I was able to put down today.”

MORE: Double sweep for U.S. men and women in snowboard slopestyle at Mammoth Grand Prix

 

Olympic flame to travel by sea for Paris 2024, welcomed by armada

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024
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The Olympic flame will travel from Athens to Marseille by ship in spring 2024 to begin the France portion of the torch relay that ends in Paris on July 26, 2024.

The torch relay always begins in the ancient Olympic site of Olympia, Greece, where the sun’s rays light the flame. It will be passed by torch until it reaches Athens.

It will then cross the Mediterranean Sea aboard the Belem, a three-masted ship, “reminiscent of a true Homeric epic,” according to Paris 2024. It will arrive at the Old Port of Marseille, welcomed by an armada of boats.

Marseille is a former Greek colony and the oldest city in France. It will host sailing and some soccer matches during the Paris Olympics.

The full 2024 Olympic torch relay route will be unveiled in May.

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Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024

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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