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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‘Race and Sports in America: Conversations’ primetime special covers social justice, combating inequality

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Athletes, including Olympians, discussed social justice, locker room conversations about race and ways that sports can help combat inequality in “Race and Sports in America: Conversations,” airing Monday at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, Olympic Channel, Golf Channel and NBC Sports Regional Networks.

NBC Sports’ Damon Hack hosted roundtables with active and retired athletes at the American Century Championship Golf Tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, last week.

Panelists, including Olympians James Blake and Charles Barkley and Tokyo Olympic hopeful Stephen Curry, also reflected on personal experiences.

Barkley, an Olympic gold medalist in 1992 and 1996, said coaches recently reached out to him to speak to their teams.

“First of all, relax and breathe,” Barkley said. “This crap started 400 years ago. We can’t do nothing about that. We can’t do anything about systematic racism. What I challenge every Black person, every white person to do: What can I do today going forward?

“You have to ask yourself, I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Because if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

Blake, a retired former top-five tennis player and 2008 Olympian, was wrestled to the ground, handcuffed and arrested by a plainclothes New York City police officer in 2015 in a case of mistaken identity caught on video. The police officer’s punishment was a loss of five vacation days.

“The first thing I said when I got tackled was, I’m complying 100 percent,” Blake said. “And that shouldn’t have to be your response the first time you interact with a police officer. And because that’s the way my dad taught me is stay alive. Do whatever you can to stay alive. Sort it out later with lawyers or however you want to do it, and stay alive in that moment. The fact you have to have those rules in 2020 means maybe we have to do something drastic to change the way police interact with the African-American community and the way the community interacts with the police.”

Curry said his daughters, 7-year-old Riley and 5-year-old Ryan, asked questions about the images they recently saw. He’s not shielding them, but rather being honest about society, going back centuries.

“We have to continue to double down and double down and keep people accountable in all walks of life, all industries, all forms of leadership, the judicial system, all those type of things,” Curry said. “And hopefully for my kids’ generation, their kids, we will see change. I’m hopeful and optimistic about, but I understand how much work will need to go into that.”

The full list of athletes who participated in the “Race and Sports in America: Conversations” roundtables:

• Charles Barkley – 1992 and 1996 Olympic basketball champion
• James Blake – 10-time ATP tennis champion, 2008 Olympian
• Stephen Curry – two-time NBA MVP, two-time FIBA world champion
• Troy Mullins – World Long Drive competitor
• Anthony Lynn – Los Angeles Chargers head coach
• Jimmy Rollins – World Series champion shortstop
• Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings tight end
• Ozzie Smith – Major League Baseball Hall of Famer

Additionally, Hack was joined by Super Bowl champion running back Jerome Bettis for an extended interview that will be published on NBC Sports’ digital and podcast platforms.

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Shelby Houlihan shatters American 5000m record

Shelby Houlihan
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Shelby Houlihan chopped 10.52 seconds off her own American 5000m record, clocking 14:23.92 at a Bowerman Track Club intrasquad meet in Portland, Ore., on Friday night.

Houlihan, who was 11th in the Rio Olympic 5000m, has in this Olympic cycle improved to become one of the greatest female distance runners in U.S. history.

She first broke Shannon Rowbury‘s American record in the 5000m by 4.47 seconds in 2018. In 2019, she broke Rowbury’s American record in the 1500m by 1.3 seconds in finishing fourth at the world championships in 3:54.99.

On Friday, Houlihan and second-place Karissa Schweizer both went under the American record. Schweizer, 24 and three years younger than Houlihan, clocked 14:26.34, staying with Houlihan until the winner’s 61-second final lap.

“I knew Karissa was going to try to come up on me and take the lead. She does that every time,” Houlihan told USATF.tv. “I had decided I was not going to let that happen.”

Houlihan improved from 41st to 12th on the world’s all-time 5000m list, 12.77 seconds behind Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba‘s world record.

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