Mikaela Shiffrin wins 5th straight World Cup, longest streak in 20 years

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More history for Mikaela Shiffrin, one of the world’s most dominant athletes in any sport.

She became the first Alpine skier to win five straight World Cup races in 20 years on Tuesday, coming from behind at a night slalom in Flachau, Austria.

Shiffrin won for the eighth time in nine races overall, prevailing by .94 of a second combining times from two runs over Austrian Bernadette Schild.

Schild led Shiffrin by .37 after the first run, when Shiffrin said her timing was off. Shiffrin’s coach, Mike Day, set the course for the second run.

“This was the first time [this season] that I was coming from behind in the first run, and I had to make a statement,” she said, according to The Associated Press. “That was really important for me, a really big checkmark on the way to the Olympics because when we are there, anything can happen, and I want to be mentally prepared for all those possibilities.”

Two of Shiffrin’s closest slalom rivals — Slovak Petra Vlhova and Swiss Wendy Holdener — skied out in the first run.

Full results are here.

Shiffrin became the first man or woman to win five straight World Cup races since German Katja Seizinger in 1997.

She also tied Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell‘s record for most World Cup wins before turning 23, grabbing her 41st career victory and 10th this season.

Lindsey Vonn, the female record holder with 78 victories, had seven at this age.

Shiffrin is favored to win three gold medals in PyeongChang (slalom, giant slalom, super combined), which would match the record for an Alpine skier at one Olympics.

All of Shiffrin’s eight wins in this nine-race span have been in slalom (or some variation) and giant slalom.

The Coloradoan grabbed gold in Sochi as the youngest Olympic slalom champion ever. She since matured into the world’s best all-around skier, taking last year’s World Cup overall title and running away in this year’s standings.

The women’s World Cup continues with a downhill and super-G in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria, on Saturday and Sunday, live on Olympic Channel.

Vonn will headline those races, which Shiffrin is expected to skip.

Shiffrin picks and chooses speed events where she feels comfortable. She is expected to race the following weekend’s downhill and super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

Also Tuesday, Resi Stiegler became the third U.S. female Alpine skier to qualify for PyeongChang, joining Shiffrin and Megan McJames.

Stiegler, 32, has a best finish of 11th from two previous Olympics.

She has a best finish this season of 14th and last made a World Cup podium in 2012, but qualified for the Olympics as the second-best U.S. slalom skier behind Shiffrin this season.

Vonn and other speed racers can qualify the next two weekends.

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Salwa Eid Naser, world 400m champion, provisionally banned

Salwa Eid Naser
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Salwa Eid Naser, the world 400m champion of Bahrain, was provisionally suspended for missing three drug tests in a 12-month span.

“I’ve never been a cheat. I will never be,” Naser, 22, said in an Instagram live video. “I only missed three drug tests, which is normal. It happens. It can happen to anybody. I don’t want people to get confused in all this because I would never cheat.”

Naser said “the missed tests” came before last autumn’s world championships, where she ran the third-fastest time in history (48.14 seconds) and the fastest in 34 years.

“This year I have not been drug tested,” she said. “We are still talking about the ones of last season before the world championships.”

The Athletics Integrity Unit, which handles doping cases for track and field, did not announce whether Naser’s gold medal could be stripped.

“Hopefully, it’ll get resolved because I don’t really like the image, but it has happened,” she said. “It’s going to be fine. It’s very hard to have this little stain on my name.”

Naser, the 2017 World silver medalist, upset Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas for the world title in Doha on Oct. 3.

The only women who have run faster than Naser, who was born Ebelechukwu Agbapuonwu in Nigeria to a Nigerian mother who sprinted and a Bahraini father, were dubious — East German Marita Koch (47.60) and Czechoslovakia’s Jarmila Kratochvilova (47.99).

“I would never take performance-enhancing drugs,” Naser said. “I believe in talent, and I know I have the talent.”

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When Laurie Hernandez winked at the Olympics

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Blink, and you may have missed one of the social-media-sensation moments of the Rio Olympics.

Laurie Hernandez, then 16, was the youngest woman on the U.S. Olympic team across all sports. She was about to start arguably the most important floor exercise routine of her life.

So, she winked.

“The amazing thing about the Olympics is that you feel so many different emotions in the span of a few days, and they are all intense,” she wrote in her 2017 book, “I Got This,” a nod to what she told herself before her balance beam routine earlier that night. “So it was nice to have at least one totally playful moment.”

The U.S., on its fourth and final rotation, already had the team gold all but locked up. Knowing she was nervous, Hernandez’s teammates confirmed to her that they were a few points ahead.

Then Hernandez heard the beep, and it was time to go. She was in the view of an out-of-bounds judge at the Rio Olympic Arena.

“Well, I looked straight at her and suddenly felt this surge of confidence to wink,” she wrote. “Later, a woman came up to me while I was watching Simone [Biles] and Aly [Raisman] compete in their all-around finals and she said, ‘Wow, I just want you to know that when you winked at the judge, it really worked.’ I didn’t know how to respond, so I just said, ‘Thank you. That’s very nice of you to say.’ That’s when she told me she was the out-of-bounds judge! All I could say was ‘Oh my goodness.'”

Hernandez, a New Jersey native, finished the Olympics with a team gold and balance beam silver.

She took more than two years off before making a comeback in earnest last year, announcing she planned to return to competition this spring under new coaches in California. Now that’s on hold given the coronavirus pandemic, which pushed the Tokyo Olympics to 2021.

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