Mikaela Shiffrin wins first downhill; Lindsey Vonn 12th (video)

0 Comments

Mikaela Shiffrin owned Lake Lindsey on Saturday.

Shiffrin won her first World Cup downhill in her fourth career start in the discipline, while a sore Lindsey Vonn was 12th in Lake Louise, Alberta.

Shiffrin, the youngest Olympic slalom champion racing her least comfortable discipline, clocked 1:27.55 and won by .13 over German Viktoria Rebensburg.

“I’m not under the impression that, like, I can just go in and win downhills now,” said Shiffrin, adding that she plans to skip the next two World Cup downhills and the Olympic downhill. “Maybe on courses where I have a little experience and if I have some luck with the lighting.”

Vonn, who owns a record 18 wins at Lake Louise (leading fans to name it after her), was .93 behind, one day after crashing en route to a possible 78th World Cup win. She shrugged after crossing the finish line.

“I had a hard time trusting my [right] knee today,” Vonn, whose right knee surgeries forced her to miss the 2014 Olympics, said, according to media in Lake Louise. “It’s definitely pretty swollen and wasn’t very happy with me. I’ll go ice it now, and hopefully it settles down a little bit more.”

Full results are here.

The race start was pushed back 75 minutes after a power outage stranded skiers on the chair lift for about 45 minutes (including Shiffrin and Vonn). The start was also moved down, which Shiffrin believed played to her advantage.

The victory wasn’t a complete shock.

That’s largely because the 22-year-old was third in Friday’s downhill at the same venue, her first podium finish in the discipline.

“I felt Lake Louise was a really good opportunity for me just because I have some experience on the track,” said Shiffrin, who is racing at the Canadian resort for a third straight season. “I wasn’t planning to win, but I was planning to come here and do my best, see what happened.”

Shiffrin has 33 World Cup victories — 27 in slalom, four in giant slalom and one each in super combined and downhill.

She is an Olympic gold favorite in slalom, a medal favorite in giant slalom and would be a contender in downhill, super-G and super combined. One Alpine skier captured four medals at one Olympics — Croatia’s Janica Kostelic in 2002.

But Shiffrin said after Saturday’s win that she probably will not race the Olympic downhill in three months. Racing all five individual events at the Olympics might be “a little ambitious.”

She doesn’t plan on racing either of the next two World Cup downhills (Dec. 16 in France and Jan. 13 in Austria). The focus remains on her favored slalom and giant slalom.

“We’ll just play it by ear,” she said of racing more downhills later in the season (all four of her World Cup downhill starts have come at Lake Louise). “I have a good balance. It’s sort of like dangling candy in front of a baby when I feel like I have a chance to make real waves in speed [events].”

Shiffrin’s stock can rise higher with a strong finish in Sunday’s super-G at Lake Louise (1 p.m. ET, Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA). Shiffrin can become the seventh woman to notch World Cup wins in every discipline (Vonn has done this).

Shiffrin openly expresses hesitation about racing the fastest and riskiest discipline of downhill.

She flirted with danger early in Saturday’s run, bobbling her outside ski in an area where teammate Breezy Johnson later crashed.

“I took some risk,” Shiffrin said. “I had a pretty close, almost run-in with the fence.”

She recovered to become the first U.S. woman not named Vonn to win a World Cup speed race (downhill or super-G) in more than four years.

In that span, Vonn won 18 speed races.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Alpine skiing season TV schedule

Lake Louise Downhill
1. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) — 1:27.55
2. Viktoria Rebensburg (GER) — +.13
3. Michelle Gisin (SUI) — +.17
6. Stacey Cook (USA) — +.61
12. Lindsey Vonn (USA) — +.93
23. Jacqueline Wiles (USA) — +1.45
35. Alice McKennis (USA) — +2.02
37. Alice Merryweather (USA) — +2.20
DNF. Breezy Johnson (USA)

Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
Getty
0 Comments

Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

Sifan Hassan
Getty
0 Comments

Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”

Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”

London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!