Getty Images

Mikaela Shiffrin can clinch World Cup overall title Friday

Leave a comment

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Best Alpine skiing moments of PyeongChang Olympics

WATCH LIVE: U.S. Figure Skating Championships rhythm dance, women’s free skate

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Can Bradie Tennell hold off 14-year-old Alysa Liu? The U.S. Figure Skating Championships crowns its female medalists on Friday, live on NBC Sports.

Action starts with the rhythm dance at 4:30 p.m. ET for NBC Sports Gold subscribers, with NBCSN broadcast coverage joining in at 5. The women start at 7:25 on Gold, with NBC TV coverage starting at 8.

LIVE STREAM: Rhythm dance — Gold | NBCSN | Skate Order
LIVE STREAM: Women’s free skate — Gold | NBC | Skate Order

Tennell topped Thursday’s short program with a clean slate of jumps, plus the highest artistic score.

She bettered Liu in the short program last year, too, but fell in the free skate to take silver. Liu, meanwhile, landed two triple Axels to win by 3.92 points and become the youngest U.S. champion in history.

Another skater to watch is Gracie Gold, the two-time U.S. champion competing at nationals for the first time in three years. Gold, lauded for her return from an eating disorder, depression and anxiety, struggled with jumps in the short and is in 13th place of 18 skaters.

In the rhythm dance, past U.S. champions Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue and Madison Chock and Evan Bates are expected to begin a duel that should come down to Saturday’s free dance.

Key Skate Times
5:32 p.m. — Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue
5:38 — Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker
5:44 — Madison Chock/Evan Bates
8:07 — Gracie Gold
10:03 — Karen Chen
10:11 — Amber Glenn
10:27 — Bradie Tennell
10:35 — Mariah Bell
10:43 — Alysa Liu

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

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. 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.

Iran’s only female Olympic medalist, who defected, eyes Tokyo Games as German or refugee

AP
Leave a comment

LÜNEN, Germany (AP) — Iran’s only female Olympic medalist said Friday she wants to compete for Germany after defecting from her native country.

Kimia Alizadeh is trying to rebuild her life and career after she announced this month she had left Iran, citing sexism on the part of officials there.

“Even if I do not make it to the Olympics, it does not matter because I have made up my mind,” Alizadeh said at a meeting with journalists at a taekwondo club.

“I am sure that I will be judged by many, but I am just 21 years old and can attend world tournaments and future Olympics. However, I will spare no effort to get the best result at this time as well.”

She added she doesn’t expect ever to compete in Iran again.

Alizadeh was just 18 when she won bronze in taekwondo at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, catapulting her to instant fame at home. Despite Iran’s long history of victories in men’s wrestling and weightlifting, no Iranian woman had ever won a medal before.

However, Alizadeh was frustrated with life in Iran despite her Olympic success. In an Instagram post this month announcing she had left Iran, she accused Iranian officials of sexism and criticized wearing the mandatory hijab headscarf.

Alizadeh hasn’t given up hope of being able to compete at this year’s Olympics in Tokyo. However, getting there would require highly unusual exemptions from the usual rules on nationality switches and qualification, regardless of whether she tries to represent Germany or the International Olympic Committee’s refugee team.

Alizadeh spent time in the Netherlands before heading to Germany this week to meet with taekwondo officials there. The German Taekwondo Union has spoken up in favor of Alizadeh staying in the country in what it calls a first step toward her gaining nationality and becoming eligible to compete for Germany.

“If the German government assists me and I can go through this process as fast as possible, I might be able to make it to the Olympics, too,” she said.

In recent years, many Iranian athletes have left their country, citing government pressure. In September, the former world judo champion Saeed Mollaei moved to Germany after walking off the Iranian team at the world championships in Japan. He said Iranian officials had tried to force him to withdraw so as not to compete against an Israeli opponent.

Alireza Faghani, an Iranian international soccer referee, also left Iran for Australia last year.

Alizadeh said she just wants “a peaceful life,” and she’s not looking back.

“I have a great feeling to have made a decision for my life that would definitely change my future,” she said. “I think it is not even clear enough now and. in the years to come, I will understand what a good decision I made.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Full list of U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics