Dutch speed skater won’t defend Olympic title after trials miss

Getty Images
0 Comments

Dutch speed skater Michel Mulder was best in the world at 500m in Sochi by one hundredth of a second. Four years later, he’s sixth-best in his own country.

That means Mulder won’t defend his Olympic title in PyeongChang.

The Netherlands’ Olympic Speed Skating Trials swallowed a Sochi medalist for the second time in as many days Wednesday.

Mulder joined Jorrit Bergsma, who missed the team in the 5000m on the opening day in Heerenveen on Tuesday. Bergsma took bronze in a Dutch 5000m sweep in Sochi but was fourth at trials.

Both could still make the team — Mulder in the 1000m and Bergsma in the 10,000m. Bergsma won the Sochi Olympic 10,000m but has struggled this season. As has Mulder.

Mulder, 31, led a Dutch 500m sweep in Sochi, edging Jan Smeekens by .01 with twin brother Ronald Mulder taking bronze.

Ronald Mulder won the trials 500m in 34.49, followed by world sprint champion Kai Verbij and Smeekens, the reigning world 500m champion.

Ronald Mulder, the current World Cup 500m leader, and Verbij are virtually guaranteed Olympic spots, while Smeekens will likely also get in.

Michel Mulder hasn’t made a World Cup podium in more than three years. In summer 2016, he ruptured an ankle ligament while attempting a high jump in a Dutch TV special ahead of the Rio Olympics.

Threats to another Dutch 500m sweep in PyeongChang are Russians Pavel Kulizhnikov and Ruslan Murashov, who own the two fastest 500m times ever.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Broadcast schedule for all U.S. Olympic Trials

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

0 Comments

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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!