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Allyson Felix on skipping the double, traveling for LA 2024

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NEW YORK — Aside from her usual meet schedule, Allyson Felix hopes to make a large impact on her sport and the Olympic Movement with appearances around the world this summer.

It began here this week, when the nine-time Olympic medalist promoted the TrackTown Summer Series, a domestic tour of meets that culminated at Icahn Stadium at Randall’s Island on Thursday night. She didn’t compete, but she was captain of the New York team.

Felix left New York for London, where she plans to race Sunday for the last time before the world championships (also in London) next month.

From London, Felix heads to Lausanne, Switzerland, as part of LA 2024’s presentation team to the International Olympic Committee. The IOC could next week ratify a proposal to award both the 2024 and 2028 Olympics this summer, with one going to LA and the other Paris. Both cities prefer 2024, though.

If the Olympic bid process continues to a planned IOC vote in September, Felix will travel to the IOC session in Lima, Peru with the LA 2024 team.

On the track, Felix chose not to attempt a 200m-400m double at the world championships this year. She explained why and touched on other topics in a conversation Thursday.

OlympicTalk: What’s the single most interesting thing about the TrackTown Summer Series for casual track fans?

Felix: The team concept. It just makes it fun to follow. I think a lot of times, when you tune into track, and you’re not sure who to root for and all that stuff, this kind of brings it back to almost that college feel. You automatically are drawn to a team that you can follow. And also for the athletes to feel a part of that [NCAA feeling] again.

OlympicTalk: You pulled out of the 200m at the USATF Outdoor Championships, so your only individual world championships race will be the 400m. Why did you decide not to attempt the 200m-400m double this year, especially given how much it meant to you in 2016?

Felix: Just coming off of the kind of year that I had last year [severe ankle injury in the spring, missing the Olympic 200m team by .01], just physically and emotionally, it was just draining. I think the idea was to take our time this year and gradually get up to speed and to be able to focus in. Coming off of something that major and wanting to run for a little bit longer [in your career], you kind of have to be smart with the amount of intensity and the [number of] times of the year that we [race]. Just taking a more gradual approach this year.

OlympicTalk: Was your lead-up to this season affected at all by the ankle or anything health related?

Felix: I think there’s always residual effects, especially with ankle injuries. That was really slow healing. We kind of wanted to keep that in mind. I wouldn’t say it was affected too much. It was a different approach. I think I started moving around at the same time [as most seasons], but it was definitely a much slower build-up.

OlympicTalk: Somebody who is doubling at worlds is Wayde van Niekerk, with the 400m coming before the 200m. If you were doubling and in a situation where you were going to win the 400m, with a chance at a record time in the final, would you go all out or save something for the 200m?

Felix: You go for it, because I think the amount that you would save would be so little in the 400m that no matter how fast or slow, it’s so taxing. Also, how often do you have a chance to be that close to a record? I think you go for it and that adrenaline and anything else carries you through the 200m.

OlympicTalk: Next year is a non-championship year. Is there anything you would like to focus on, or maybe even take a break in 2018?

Felix: I haven’t really given it too much thought. It’s really getting through this year, and then I’ll kind of think about next year. It has been a very long time that I’ve been doing this and haven’t had a break at all. I’ll probably try to have some fun and figure it out after the season.

OlympicTalk: Do you want to run the 4x100m at world championships?

Felix: I would love to run the 4x100m if they need me. It’s the position I’ve always been is that I’m open if they need me. If not, I’m happy to focus on the 400m and 4x400m.

OlympicTalk: Do you consider yourself a 400m runner now?

Felix: I don’t know if I ever will. I guess I should. That’s what I’m running. I prefer the term “sprinter.”

OlympicTalk: It’s far out, but do you want to double in 2019 if everything is ideal?

Felix: I haven’t even thought of that. Long-term, I would love to do one more Olympics, but the breakdown of it and leading up into it, it’s kind of seeing what’s happening that year and how I’m feeling.

OlympicTalk: You were at Usain Bolt’s last home meet in Jamaica. What was that like?

Felix: I don’t think I’ve been in the stadium there where it was that full and everyone was that excited since [2002] World Juniors. It was amazing just to see the love for track and field and the love for him and what he’s done for the sport.

OlympicTalk: Was the excitement comparable to any other meet you’ve been to?

Felix: It has the kind of feel of a Penn Relays atmosphere, where it’s just fun. Everyone wasn’t so much concerned with performance, but let’s just go out and salute this great champion.

OlympicTalk: Did it make you think about how you want to go about your final meet(s)?

Felix: Not so much in the fashion, but it really made me think about it’s so much more than just trying to run fast times and win medals. You get to talk to people who you’ve actually had an impact on their life. As athletes, we get wrapped up in performances and statistics and all these things. You forget that this little girl runs track because of you, or this young man came out to the sport, and it’s made an impact on his life. Those are the things that I got to really pick up on with that meet.

OlympicTalk: Why is that so important for you to be at the IOC vote in Lima, and what message do you want to send to IOC members, assuming they’ll be voting between Los Angeles and Paris?

Felix: Being an LA native, it’s really important for me to see the Olympics back in LA. Just the impact that I know it can have on the city and also that the city can have the Olympics. It would be so, so special. I think it’s time. I think LA is ready.

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Federica Brignone hopes World Cup rival Mikaela Shiffrin will return soon

Shiffrin and Brignone
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Mikaela Shiffrin‘s prolonged absence from the World Cup Alpine skiing circuit has opened the door for Italy’s Federica Brignone to break the American’s grip on the season title, but Brignone hopes her friend and rival will be back in competition soon.

“I really do hope that she will return soon for herself so she can do again what she loves most,” Brignone said.

Brignone took the season lead from Shiffrin, who has won the last three World Cup overall titles, on Sunday and has a 73-point advantage with 11 of the season’s 40 races remaining. She also leads Shiffrin by 74 points in the giant slalom standings.

READ: Brignone moves into World Cup lead

No Italian woman has won the overall World Cup. Brignone was fifth in 2017 and won the Alpine combined discipline title last season.

Brignone will have a chance to clinch another Alpine combined discipline title and extend her overall lead in her home country this weekend. While some other sports events in Italy have been canceled or otherwise affected by the coronavirus outbreak, the host resort of La Thuile has so far been spared from the virus’ spread.

Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, the only other skier with a realistic chance of winning the overall trophy, is dealing with a knee injury and might not be able to race this weekend. Vhlova leads Shiffrin by 20 points in the slalom standings.

Shiffrin has not competed since the death of her father Feb. 2, and she has not announced plans to return. She was not on pace to match her astounding 17-win 2018-19 season but still had six wins and had reached the podium in 13 of 19 races.

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World short-track speedskating championships will be moved, postponed or canceled

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The International Skating Union announced Tuesday that the world short-track speedskating championships will not proceed as scheduled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Seoul’s Mokdong Ice Rink, where the competition was set to be held March 13-15, held the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships earlier this month but closed on Monday.

The ISU left open the possibility that the championships will be postponed or relocated, but the window to do so may close rapidly.

“Taking into account the uncertain world-wide development of the coronavirus, the limited and uncertain available time slots during the coming weeks and the logistical challenges of potential organizers and participating teams, a postponement and/or relocation of the Championships would be difficult to achieve,” the ISU said. “Nevertheless, a postponement and/or relocation of this Championships might be considered if the circumstances would allow so in due time.”

South Korea is one of short-track speedskating’s traditional powers. Last year, the country dominated the world championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, winning both relays and taking gold in all of the men’s individual races. South Korea also led the medal count on home ice in the 2018 Olympics.

The coronavirus outbreak has forced the cancellation of many events in China, where the illness was first found. The world indoor track and field championships were pushed back a whole year.

With the virus spreading to other regions, other countries’ sports schedules are being affected. Several soccer games are proceeding in empty stadiums in Italy and Iran.

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