Most dominant winter athlete? Mikael Kingsbury wins 10th straight

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Canadian moguls skier Mikael Kingsbury is on one of the hottest streaks in all winter sports heading into the PyeongChang Winter Games.

The Sochi silver medalist has won 10 straight World Cup events, capped with back-to-back victories in China on Thursday and Friday.

The streak includes seven moguls wins and three in dual moguls, which is not an Olympic event.

Kingsbury goes into the new year riding an 11-month streak on the World Cup, a run rivaled by few athletes (but most notably Russian figure skater Yevgenia Medvedeva, who hasn’t lost in two years but is out with a broken foot).

“Honestly I don’t even think about it,” Kingsbury, 25, said Friday, according to the International Ski Federation (FIS). “I just don’t want the people to wake me up from this dream.”

Kingsbury is now up to 45 career World Cup victories, one shy of the men’s or women’s record for moguls skiers shared by retired U.S. Olympic champions Donna Weinbrecht and Hannah Kearney. He should break it in January.

When he was 9, Kingsbury printed the Olympic symbol, wrote next to it that he would win a gold medal and taped it to his ceiling to see it before he went to bed every night.

His time is now.

Countryman Alexandre Bilodeau retired after becoming the first freestyle skier to win multiple Olympic gold medals in Sochi, relegating Kingsbury to silver.

Kingsbury was a forerunner at Vancouver 2010, where Bilodeau memorably won Canada’s first home gold at a Summer or Winter Games.

“That guy that finished second,” Bilodeau said in Sochi, “he is going to win everything after I’m gone.”

Kingsbury has won the last six World Cup moguls season titles but was shockingly third at last season’s world championships.

It marked just the second time Kingsbury finished outside the top two in a moguls competition (excluding dual moguls) since March 2014. That span includes 30 competitions.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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Valencia Marathon produces historic times in men’s, women’s races

2022 Valencia Marathon
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Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum and Ethiopian Amane Beriso won the Valencia Marathon and became the third-fastest man and woman in history, respectively.

Kiptum, a 23-year-old in his marathon debut, won the men’s race in 2 hours, 1 minute, 53 seconds. The only men to ever run faster over 26.2 miles are legends: Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:09 world record, plus a 2:01:39) and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (2:01:41).

Kipchoge made his marathon debut at age 28, and Bekele at 31.

Beriso, a 31-year-old whose personal best was 2:20:48 from January 2016, stunned the women’s field Sunday by running 2:14:58. The only women to have run faster: Kenyans Brigid Kosgei (2:14:04) and Ruth Chepngetich (2:14:18).

Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey finished second in 2:16:49, the fastest-ever time for a woman in her marathon debut. Gidey is the world record holder at 5000m and 10,000m.

Valencia is arguably the top annual marathon outside of the six World Marathon Majors. The next major marathon is Tokyo on March 5.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

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Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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