U.S. gymnasts sweep American Cup titles

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U.S. gymnasts Morgan Hurd and Yul Moldauer swept the American Cup, the biggest annual international meet held in the United States.

Hurd, 16, had the highest scores on balance beam, floor exercise and uneven bars in her first competition since winning the world all-around title Oct. 6.

“I went home from worlds, and I didn’t stop training,” Hurd, who was sixth at the 2017 U.S. Championships, told Andrea Joyce on NBC.

She totaled 56.599 points against an international field highlighted by Japanese Mai Murakami, who was fourth in the world all-around final with a balance beam fall.

Moldauer became the first repeat men’s American Cup champion since double 2008 Olympic medalist Jonathan Horton in 2006 and 2007.

Moldauer, the 2017 U.S. all-around champion who was seventh at 2017 Worlds, upset Japanese Kenzo Shirai. Shirai, the floor exercise and vault world champion, fell off the pommel horse twice and high bar once. He ended up sixth in the nine-man field.

Moldauer had the highest score on still rings and won with his trademark consistency and clean routines. He was top three on all six events.

The other U.S. woman in the field, national junior all-around champ Maile O’Keefe, finished third in her senior debut.

O’Keefe fell off the balance beam, and on uneven bars her feet landed on a bar on a release move.

The 16-year-old O’Keefe won the 2017 U.S. junior title with a score that would have placed second in the senior event behind Ragan Smith.

The next major domestic event is the U.S. Classic in Columbus, Ohio in late July. Simone Biles said in the fall that she targeted the U.S. Classic for her first competition since she won five medals at the Rio Olympics.

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MORE: Simone Biles forecasts retirement date

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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