Mikaela Shiffrin can clinch World Cup overall title Friday

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Mikaela Shiffrin will mathematically clinch a second straight World Cup overall title if she finishes sixth or better in a World Cup giant slalom on Friday, her first race since taking gold and silver medals at the PyeongChang Olympics.

The race in Ofterschwang, Germany, is scheduled for 5 a.m. ET (first run) and 8 a.m. (second run), both streaming on OlympicChannel.com and the Olympic Channel app. Olympic Channel will air TV coverage at 7:30 a.m. The women also race a slalom Saturday on the Olympic Channel.

Shiffrin leads the season standings with 1,513 points through 33 of 39 scheduled races, thanks largely to a run of 10 wins in 14 starts between Thanksgiving and Jan. 9.

Swiss Wendy Holdener is in second place with 952 points, putting her 561 points behind with six races left.

A skier can receive a maximum of 100 points per race (that’s for a win), so Holdener would pretty much need to win out and have Shiffrin ski out of the remaining races to pull off one of the most improbable comebacks in sports history.

Holdener said last weekend that “there is no chance” she overtakes Shiffrin, according to The Associated Press.

“I am second, and it would be nice if it stays that way,” she said, according to the AP.

Shiffrin skipped last weekend’s super-G and super combined in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. As did Lindsey Vonn, who is also missing this weekend’s technical events (not her specialties) but will return for the World Cup Finals in Are, Sweden, next week.

If Shiffrin wins two more races between the next two weeks, she will match Vonn’s record for most wins in a World Cup season by an American.

If Shiffrin wins four of the final six races (unlikely but possible), she would tie Swiss Vreni Schneider‘s record for wins in a season by any skier.

A World Cup overall repeat will put Shiffrin halfway to Vonn’s four career overall titles, the annual prize that goes to the world’s best all-around skier.

Shiffrin is also in the running for season titles in the giant slalom and slalom. She is 81 points behind German Viktoria Rebensburg for the GS title and leads the slalom standings by 175 points. There are two races left in each of those disciplines.

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

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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.

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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

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Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”

Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”

London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.

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