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Mikaela Shiffrin takes spotlight as world championships hit final weekend

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Mikaela Shiffrin waited out the first nine days of the world championships. Now, she gets to race for gold.

Shiffrin is a medal favorite in the giant slalom on Thursday and the gold-medal favorite in the slalom on Saturday, live on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app from St. Moritz, Switzerland.

Thursday
Giant Slalom Run 1 — 3:45 a.m. ET (NBCSports.com/live)
Giant Slalom Run 2 — 7 a.m. ET (NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live)

Saturday
Slalom Run 1 — 3:45 a.m. ET (NBCSports.com/live)
Slalom Run 2 — 7 a.m. ET (NBCSports.com/live)
Slalom Highlights — 12:30 p.m. ET (NBC)

The U.S. owns one medal so far from the first seven events at worlds — a downhill bronze from Lindsey Vonn — but Shiffrin is expected to lift the American team in the remaining technical events.

Three women in Thursday’s giant slalom field have won World Cup giant slaloms this season — France’s Tessa Worley (three victories), Shiffrin (two) and Italian Federica Brignone (one). One of the pre-event medal favorites, Swiss Lara Gut, is out after tearing her left ACL on Friday.

Shiffrin, who owns 25 World Cup slalom wins, picked up her first outright World Cup GS victories this season on back-to-back days in Semmering, Austria. She has finished sixth or better in all seven World Cup GS races this season, consistency only Worley can match.

It bodes well for Shiffrin to improve on her previous major GS results — sixth at the 2013 Worlds, fifth at the 2014 Olympics and eighth at the 2015 Worlds at home in Vail, Colo.

“I’m a lot more confident in my GS than I was going into Vail,” she said earlier this month. “My slalom, I guess my confidence level is about the same.”

The slalom is Shiffrin’s bread and butter. On Saturday, she can become the second woman to win three world slalom titles and the first since 1939.

Starting with the 2015 World Championships, Shiffrin won 15 straight slaloms until a DNF on Jan. 3. She’s won and finished third in two slaloms since.

Shiffrin also goes into these two worlds races well prepared, following an extended period of training. She opted to skip the super-G last Tuesday and the super combined on Friday in St. Moritz to spend more time working on her slalom and giant slalom in practice.

“My main events are GS and slalom right now, and I feel like I can use this block of training to power through world champs, but also set me up for more success at the end of the season with the rest of the World Cup,” Shiffrin said before worlds.

Shiffrin is all but guaranteed more success in the final month of the World Cup season. She leads the standings for the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in the sport, by 180 points over Gut, who is out for the season.

The next-closest racer is 414 points behind, the gap equivalent of four wins. With only 11 races left, Shiffrin is poised to become the third U.S. woman to win the overall title after Tamara McKinney and Vonn.

VIDEO: Roger Federer takes in world champs with Lindsey Vonn

Magnus Cort Nielsen wins Tour de France stage ahead of Pyrenees

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CARCASSONNE, France (AP) — Magnus Cort Nielsen of Denmark sprinted away from two other challengers to win Stage 15 of the Tour de France on Sunday.

The Astana rider claimed his first career win at the Tour after staying ahead of Ion Izagirre and Bauke Mollema in a sprint over the final 200 meters of the hilly 181.5-kilometer (112.7-mile) leg from Millau that finished in a long descent to Carcassonne.

The three riders were the last of a breakaway group of 29 cyclists.

Geraint Thomas in the yellow jersey, second-placed Chris Froome, and the rest of the overall contenders were in a pack more than 10 minutes behind and had not finished yet.

The race will have a rest day on Monday. That pause precedes the four days in the Pyrenees, followed by the individual time trial on the penultimate day of the race.

The racing returns on Tuesday with Stage 16, a 218-kilometer mountain trek from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon.

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TOUR DE FRANCE: StandingsTV Schedule | Riders to Watch

Matthew Centrowitz grabs first Diamond League win; 3rd fastest women’s mile ever

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Matthew Centrowitz notched the second-biggest international win of his career, grabbing his first Diamond League victory in a 1500m in London on Sunday.

In Rio, Centrowitz became the first U.S. Olympic 1500m champion in 108 years. Centrowitz has five U.S. titles and two world championships medals but before Sunday had a best Diamond League 1500m finish of third.

Centrowitz redeemed himself at the London Olympic Stadium, a place where he finished fourth at the 2012 Games, missing a medal by four hundredths of a second.

On Sunday, he surged to win on the inside in the final straightaway, holding off Australian Ryan Gregson by .13. The race lacked the world’s top 1500m runners this year — Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot and Elijah Manangoi. Centrowitz was seventh in a stronger field in Monaco on Friday.

Full London results are here. The Diamond League moves to Birmingham, Great Britain, for its next meet Aug. 18.

In other events, Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan clocked the third-fastest women’s mile ever, 4:14.71. Only Svetlana Masterkova‘s 4:12.56 from 1996 and Genzebe Dibaba‘s 4:14.30 from 2016 were faster.

Jamaica may have found a new sprint star in Akeem Bloomfield. The 20-year-old won the 200m in 19.81 seconds, the fastest time by a Jamaican since Bolt’s last 200m at the Rio Olympics, against a field that lacked American Noah Lyles, who has the fastest time of 2018 of 19.65.

Kendra Harrison clocked the world’s fastest 100m hurdles of 2018, 12.36 seconds, on the second anniversary of her world record 12.20 on the same track. Harrison also bettered Olympic champion Brianna McNeal for the third time in four head-to-heads since Rio.

Kenyan Emmanuel Korir won the 800m in 1:42.05, the world’s fastest time since the epic London 2012 final won by countryman David Rudisha at the same Olympic Stadium.

South African Luvo Manyonga won the long jump with an 8.58-meter leap. The Rio silver medalist and world champion beat the last two Olympic gold medalists — American Jeff Henderson (fifth, 8.20 meters) and the retiring Brit Greg Rutherford (10th, 7.55 meters).

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