Mikaela Shiffrin wins 40th World Cup race in rout (video)

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KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia (AP) — Shortly after winning her 40th career World Cup race on Sunday, overall champion Mikaela Shiffrin drew praise from one of her main rivals for “taking the sport to another level.”

Beaten by 1.64 seconds in a slalom on the Podkoren course, Frida Hansdotter had mixed feelings about the American’s dominance.

“It’s frustrating, but it is also good for the sport,” said the Swede, the only skier other than Shiffrin to win the season-long World Cup slalom title in the past five years.

Shiffrin has won 20 of the last 25 slaloms she competed in, and finished on the podium in four of the other five races. Her 29 slalom wins in total leaves her six short of the record set by Austria’s Marlies Schild.

“She is super fast,” Hansdotter said. “All of us want to ski faster than her but she is on another level. We need to train harder and ski faster.”

The Olympic slalom champion certainly was fast while taking a 1.47-second lead in Sunday’s opening leg, which Shiffrin called “maybe the best run of slalom I have ever done in a race.”

It was the fourth straight slalom race where Shiffrin held a first-run lead of more than a second, a huge margin in a sport often decided by hundredths of a second.

“I let it go down the hill and I am really, really happy with my skiing that run,” said Shiffrin, who also triumphed in Saturday’s giant slalom on the same course. “I am always looking to do the skiing that I do in training. That feels really good, it’s confident, it’s flowing. The surface is incredible and froze overnight so it’s just so much fun to ski.”

Shiffrin posted the third-fastest time in the final leg and beat Hansdotter once again, while Wendy Holdener was 1.87 behind in third for the Swiss skier’s 13nd career slalom podium without winning — a World Cup record.

“Sometimes it’s frustrating but it is still a good fight,” Holdener said.

Petra Vlhova of Slovakia, the only skier to beat Shiffrin in a slalom this season, was 2.18 behind in fourth.

The result put the American level with Sweden great Ingemar Stenmark for the number of World Cup victories before turning 23.

Only Annemarie Moser-Proell won more races (41) at that age, and Shiffrin can match the Austrian great’s record at a night slalom in Flachau on Tuesday.

“I have so much fun skiing today,” said Shiffrin, who has won seven of the last eight races, including all four in 2018. “I feel so like in a good place, it doesn’t feel like I am dreaming, it doesn’t feel like it’s something crazy that’s happening. It just feels like I am skiing really well and I am starting to feel that in the races more and more.”

Her two wins this weekend easily earned Shiffrin the Golden Fox Trophy, which adds the slalom results to those of Saturday’s GS.

It was another confirmation that Shiffrin, initially excelling in slalom, has become a consistent winner in both technical disciplines.

“That’s huge, that has been one of my goals since forever,” Shiffrin said. “So it’s so cool now that I can be a contender for the win in both slalom and GS.”

Shiffrin’s triumphant run has seen her lead in the overall standings increase to 721 points over second-place Holdener, while she leads Vlhova in the slalom standings by 235 points.

Not that she will take anything for granted because, as Shiffrin said, “there are quite a few who have the ability to win. It’s still competition.”

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MORE: Alpine skiing season TV schedule

Nathan Chen calls 3 quads at Skate America ‘a given’

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When Nathan Chen won Skate America in 2017, he competed two quadruple jumps in the short program and one downgraded quad in the free skate.

When Chen won the event in 2018, he did one under-rotated quad (which was also given an edge call) in the short and three in the free.

For Skate America this weekend (Oct. 18-20, streaming live on the NBC Sports “Figure Skating Pass”), two-time and reigning world champion Chen told reporters on Monday’s media teleconference that three quads in the free skate was “a given.”

“Honestly, I don’t really know exactly,” Chen said, after admitting he gets asked this question a lot and usually ends up giving a “vague” answer. “I have ideas. I want to push three. I want to push four… As of now, I think three is a given. But beyond that, we’ll see.”

Chen completed six quads to win the free skate at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where he ultimately finished fifth.

He’ll skate to La Boheme for the short program in Las Vegas, choreographed by Shae-Lynn Bourne, and selections from “Rocket Man” for the free skate, choreographed by Marie-France Dubreuil. Bourne is a former ice dancer and choreographs programs for many singles skaters as well as pair teams. Dubreuil is a noted former ice dancer and current dance coach, training the top teams in the world at her school in Montreal.

Chen explained that both of the choices were the choreographers’ picks, and he had to sit on the music for a day or two before committing to skating to it. Ultimately, he likes when choreographers are able to find something that they think suits him.

“I love to listen to Elton John,” Chen said. “I don’t necessarily feel as though I’m an embodiment of his character, per se. But I do feel that no matter how you listen to music there are always many ways to interpret it. The way that we’re approaching it is not necessarily that I’m trying to be Elton John but mostly that we’re trying to interpret his music and share his music.”

And compared to last season, when he was a freshman at Yale University, classes this time around are “a lot harder,” the sophomore said. In general though, he’s a lot more comfortable trying to balance both skating and his studies.

“Skating is always tough, always a challenge,” he said. “But I would say, relative to last season, skating might be a little bit on the easier side. I think classes are definitely a lot harder… You have to really grind for a long period of time or else you don’t do well.”

Luckily for Chen, Skate America is aligned with Yale’s scheduled fall break.

MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Check out a free trial of the Figure Skating Pass during Skate America from Oct. 18-20. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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Simone Biles reveals one thing she cannot do: Wear all her medals at once

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Three days after raising the record for world championship medals to 25, Simone Biles said her career total is a bit too much to wear at once.

“I’ve worn all five of them (from one world championship) for one time, but they’re pretty heavy, so I can’t imagine 25,” Biles said Wednesday on the “Today” show.

MORE: Mother and daughter share world championship experience

Last week, Biles became the first gymnast to win five gold medals at the world championships. She and her teammates ran away with the team gold, and she won the all-around by a staggering 2.1 points. She then won the vault, balance beam and floor exercise. Only a fifth-place finish in the uneven bars kept her from a sweep.

One event that stood out for her was the ever-challenging balance beam.

“Out of all of my performances this past week, the beam performance was one of my favorites, because I did it exactly like practice, and that’s what I’ve been training to do,” Biles said. “So it definitely helped my confidence.”

GYM WORLDS: Finals Results

Biles had her breakout performance at age 18, her first year in senior competition, in the 2013 world championships with a four-medal performance, including gold in the all-around and floor exercise. In 2014, she won those events again, along with the team event and the balance beam, and added a fifth medal on the vault. She matched that performance in 2015, then switched the vault and beam in her four-gold, five-medal performance in the 2016 Olympics.

After a post-Olympic break, she returned for the 2018 world championships to win medals in all six events, including four golds and a silver on the uneven bars, historically her least successful event.

She didn’t win six medals this year, but she took five golds for the first time. This year’s championships are also special because they’re almost certainly her last, with next year’s Olympics expected to be her last major competition.

Given all that, she’ll make more of an effort to go back and watch what she did.

“Most of the time I don’t want to see it, but this world championships was one of the best out of all five of them, so I definitely wanted to see my performances, so afterward, I would go and try to find it with my coach,” Biles said.

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