Kamil Stoch is second ski jumper to sweep Four Hills Tournament

AP
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BISCHOFSHOFEN, Austria (AP) — Kamil Stoch of Poland rounded off his second straight Four Hills Tournament victory by also winning the last stop on Saturday.

The man who swept the Sochi Olympic golds became the second ski jumper to win the annual competition by triumphing at all four stages, 16 years after Germany’s Sven Hannawald completed the feat.

Hannawald, who was working at the event as a TV commentator, appeared in the finish area soon after Stoch’s winning jump and congratulated him.

“I am positively surprised, happy, and a bit tired,” said Stoch, adding that the win was a “great reward” for him.

After winning in Oberstdorf, Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Innsbruck, Stoch said that the prospect of matching Hannawald’s record had not put him under extra pressure.

“It was big pressure this whole tournament, not just today. The most important was to stay focused on your job,” he said. “I just wanted to do my job, that’s all. I didn’t focus on winning. I focused on doing it right.”

The 30-year-old Stoch won both individual events at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, adding to his world title on the large hill a year before.

In 2017, he became the second Polish winner of the Four Hills Tournament after Adam Malysz took the title in 2001.

On Saturday, Stoch had jumps of 132.5 and 137 meters to finish on 275.6 points, edging Anders Fannemel of Norway by 3.2 points.

Andreas Wellinger of Germany was third with 270.5 points, and he finished runner-up to Stoch in the final Four Hills standings.

With his fourth straight World Cup win, Stoch overtook Richard Freitag atop the overall standings with 723 points, 12 clear of the German.

Freitag didn’t enter Saturday’s event having injured his left hip in a crash in Innsbruck two days ago.

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MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for PyeongChang Olympics

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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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.

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

Lucas Braathen
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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

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