Mikaela Shiffrin repeats as World Cup overall champion

AP
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OFTERSCHWANG, Germany (AP) — Mikaela Shiffrin can finally relax again.

After a tense build-up to the Olympics, the American won her second straight overall World Cup title on Friday, five races before the end of the season.

“It’s been a big battle for me mentally to know exactly where my focus should be,” said Shiffrin, who turns 23 on Tuesday. “It was quite a relief actually when the Olympics were over so I could focus on the rest of the World Cup season.”

Shiffrin won the Olympic gold medal in the giant slalom, and it was in Friday’s giant slalom that she clinched the overall World Cup title by finishing third. Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway, the Olympic silver medalist, won the race.

Even before her final run, Shiffrin was guaranteed of winning the title because her only remaining rival, Wendy Holdener, failed to finish in the top two, which she needed to maintain her mathematical title chance. The Swiss skier finished 14th.

“That’s really exciting, for sure. It’s hard to explain that feeling really,” said Shiffrin, who holds a 603-point lead over Holdener in the overall standings with only Saturday’s slalom and four races at next week’s World Cup finals in Sweden remaining.

“The best thing for me now is to have the crystal globe already locked in,” she said. “I can really just enjoy the last races and not have to fight for points to win the globe.

“After last year when I won the overall, actually some people were saying like it’s sort of fake because the other girls weren’t there and there was nobody to challenge her. So, to have the overall this year locked in already before we even go to finals, it feels like confirmation for me.”

Last season, Shiffrin clinched the World Cup overall title after her closest challenger, Swiss Lara Gut, suffered a season-ending ACL tear at the February World Championships.

Shiffrin is the second American female skier to win multiple overall titles. Lindsey Vonn won the sport’s most coveted prize four times.

Friday’s result came exactly two months after Shiffrin’s last victory in a World Cup race. She racked up a personal best 10 World Cup wins this season, but they all came in a relatively short 46-day spell between Nov. 25 and Jan. 9.

She was a clear favorite to successfully defend her maiden overall title since setting a World Cup record by winning the first five races of 2018.

However, she failed to win another race after triumphing at a night slalom in Flachau, Austria. A dip in form during her last five races before the PyeongChang Olympics saw her failing to finish three times and placing seventh twice.

In South Korea, she won Olympic gold in the giant slalom and silver in the combined event, but missed out on a medal in her strongest discipline, the slalom. She vomited before the start and later said that nerves played a role.

“I had goals for the slalom and GS globes, the overall globe, Olympic medals,” Shiffrin said Friday. “My next biggest goal was to be strong for the end of the season.”

In her first race after the Olympics, Shiffrin was fourth after the opening run but improved a spot to third, 0.74 seconds behind Mowinckel.

The Norwegian won Olympic silver medals in both giant slalom and downhill last month but called her first career World Cup win “the best feeling there is.”

“I’ve worked hard for this a really long time,” Mowinckel said. “I knew my skiing was solid.”

Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany finished 0.66 behind in second and closed in on the season title in the discipline. With one race remaining, she leads world giant slalom champion Tessa Worley of France by 92 points in the discipline standings.

Friday’s result stretched Rebensburg’s lead over Shiffrin to 101 points, leaving the American out of contention for the GS title.

However, Shiffrin could add another discipline globe this weekend, holding a 175-point lead over Petra Vlhova of Slovakia going into the penultimate slalom race of the season on Saturday (6:30 a.m. ET, Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA).

“For sure I have a big lead,” Shiffrin said. “But nothing is impossible, so I am going to stay focused.”

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

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MORE: Best Alpine skiing moments of PyeongChang Olympics

2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships TV, live stream schedule

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Every race of the world Alpine skiing championships airs live on Peacock from Feb. 6-19.

France hosts the biennial worlds in Meribel and Courchevel — six women’s races, six men’s races and one mixed-gender team event.

Mikaela Shiffrin is the headliner, in the midst of her most successful season in four years with a tour-leading 11 World Cup wins in 23 starts. Shiffrin is up to 85 career World Cup victories, one shy of Ingemar Stenmark‘s record accumulated over the 1970s and ’80s.

World championships races do not count in the World Cup tally.

Shiffrin is expected to race at least four times at worlds, starting with Monday’s combined. She earned a medal in 11 of her 13 career world championships races, including each of the last 10 dating to 2015.

Shiffrin won at least one race at each of the last five world championships (nobody has gold from six different worlds). Her six total golds and 11 total medals are American records. At this edition, she can become the most decorated skier in modern world championships history from any nation.

She enters one medal shy of the record for most individual world championships medals since World War II (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt) and four medals shy of the all-time record. (Worlds were held annually in the 1930s, albeit with fewer races.)

She is also one gold medal shy of the post-World War II individual record shared by Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson.

The other favorites at these worlds include Italian Sofia Goggia, the world’s top female downhiller this season, and the two leading men: Swiss Marco Odermatt (No. 1 in super-G and giant slalom) and Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (No. 1 in downhill).

2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships Broadcast Schedule

Date Event Time (ET) Platform
Mon., Feb. 6 Women’s Combined Super-G Run 5 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Combined Slalom Run 8:30 a.m. Peacock
Tues., Feb. 7 Men’s Combined Super-G Run 5 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Combined Slalom Run 8:30 a.m. Peacock
Wed., Feb. 8 Women’s Super-G 5:30 a.m. Peacock
Thu., Feb. 9 Men’s Super-G 5:30 a.m. Peacock
Sat., Feb. 11 Women’s Downhill 5 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 2:30 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 12 Men’s Downhill 5 a.m Peacock
Highlights 3 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Tue., Feb. 14 Team Parallel 6:15 a.m. Peacock
Men’s/Women’s Parallel Qualifying 11 a.m. Peacock
Wed., Feb. 15 Men’s/Women’s Parallel 6 a.m. Peacock
Thu., Feb. 16 Women’s Giant Slalom Run 1 3:45 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Giant Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Fri., Feb. 17 Men’s Giant Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Giant Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Sat., Feb. 18 Women’s Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 2:30 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 19 Men’s Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 3 p.m.* NBC, Peacock

*Delayed broadcast
*All NBC coverage streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for TV subscribers.

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Diana Taurasi says 2024 Paris Olympics ‘on my radar’

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi said immediately after winning her fifth Olympic gold medal in Tokyo that she might try for a record sixth in Paris.

It’s still on her mind 17 months out of the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“It’s something that it’s on my radar,” Taurasi told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday after the first day of a USA Basketball training camp in Minnesota, her first national team activity since Tokyo. “I’m still competitive, still driven, still want to play, I still love being a part of USA Basketball.”

Taurasi will be 42 at the time of the Paris Games — older than any previous Olympic basketball player — but said if she’s healthy enough she’d like to give it a go.

“If the opportunity comes to play and be a part of it, it’s something I’ve always taken a lot of pride in,” said Taurasi, who shares the record of five Olympic basketball gold medals with the retired Sue Bird. “When you get to my age at this point in my career, you just try to win every day. Right now this is a good opportunity to be part of this team moving forward we’ll see what happens.”

She said she would have played at the FIBA World Cup last year in Australia, but had a quad strain that kept her out of the end of the WNBA season.

“I got hurt a little bit before. I had a good conversation with Coach (Cheryl) Reeve and (USA Basketball CEO Jim) Tooley. I felt like I hadn’t played enough basketball to be out there and help,” Taurasi said. “That’s the biggest thing with USA Basketball is being able to help the team win.”

Reeve said Monday that when she succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach a few months after Tokyo, she wasn’t sure whether Taurasi would play for the national team again. That was before her conversation with Taurasi.

“I look forward to having a chance to have her be around and be, as I told her, a great voice,” Reeve said. “Obviously, the competitive fire that she competes with is something that we all do well with.”

In Tokyo, Taurasi started all six games and averaged 18.8 minutes per game, sixth-most on the team (fewer than backup guard Chelsea Gray). Her 5.8 points per game were her fewest in her Olympic career, though she was dealing with a hip injury.

Taurasi is an unrestricted free agent although she is expected to return back to Phoenix where she’s spent her entire career since getting drafted No. 1 overall in 2003.

“Phoenix still has things they need to work out,” the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer said.

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