Justin Gatlin runs his slowest career Diamond League 100m (video)

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Justin Gatlin ran the slowest Diamond League 100m of his career, recording his worst 100m result in years, if ever, as one of several American stars handed defeat in Shanghai on Saturday.

Gatlin, the 36-year-old who beat Usain Bolt for the 2017 World 100m title, clocked 10.20 seconds for seventh place into a slight headwind in rainy conditions Saturday. Great Britain’s Reece Prescod won in 10.04.

Gatlin’s slowest previous 100m time in 28 Diamond League starts dating to 2011 was 10.14 into a stronger headwind in Doha last year. Gatlin had never finished seventh or worse in a 100m in his career, according to Tilastopaja.org.

“I got stuck in the little in the blocks tonight, and I just had too much ground and distance to make up,” Gatlin said, according to the IAAF.

Full Shanghai results are here.

In other events, world-record holder Kendra Harrison lost a Diamond League 100m hurdles for the first time since 2015, ending an 11-race win streak. She finished third in 12.56, trailing Olympic champion Brianna McNeal (12.50) and Sharika Nelvis (12.52).

In the pole vault, world champion Sam Kendricks of the U.S. shockingly failed to clear 5.61 meters, finishing ninth, his worst placement since the 2015 World Championships. World-record holder Renaud Lavillenie of France went on to win after clearing 5.81.

American Paul Chelimo fell at the finish line in a failed attempt to win his first international race in a deep 5000m. The Olympic silver medalist led for the entire final lap until Bahrain’s Birhanu Balew edged ahead in the final 20 meters. Balew prevailed in 13:09.64, .02 ahead of Chelimo, who looked over his shoulder several times before being passed.

In the long jump, world champion Luvo Manyonga of South Africa recorded a sixth and final jump of 8.56 meters to overtake Chinese 19-year-old Shi Yuhao. Olympic champion Jeff Henderson of the U.S. was fourth.

Olympic 400m champ Shaunae Miller-Uibo took the 200m in 22.06, beating a field that did not include Olympic gold and bronze medalists Elaine Thompson and Tori Bowie.

Jamaican Omar McLeod won in his first 110m hurdles race since adding the 2017 World title to his Olympic gold. He clocked 13.16 seconds, edging Olympic silver medalist Orlando Ortega of Spain by .01.

Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad held off Jamaican Janieve Russell by .01 in the 400m hurdles, clocking 53.77. The race lacked world champion Kori Carter and 18-year-old Sydney McLaughlin, the fastest in the world this year at 53.60.

Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas took the men’s 400m in 43.99, his second sub-44 clocking in the last week. Gardiner is the only man to break 44 seconds this year. Olympic and world triple jump champion Christian Taylor finished fifth in 45.24 as he focuses on the 400m with no world championships this year, hoping to break 45 seconds.

The Diamond League next moves to Eugene, Ore., for the Prefontaine Classic, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold on May 25-26.

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Wesenberg wins first U.S. skeleton World Cup medal in two years

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With a bronze medal in Lake Placid earlier today, Kendall Wesenberg became the first American to reach the World Cup podium in skeleton in two years.

Wesenberg, who finished 17th at her first Olympics in PyeongChang, had a combined time of 1:51.10 in Lake Placid. Prior to today, her last podium finish at the World Cup was in St. Moritz in January 2017.

“This has never been my strongest track, so we really broke it down piece by piece, and I think it paid off,” Wesenberg said, according to USA Bobsled and Skeleton. “The second run, I kind of tried to throw it away at the top there. By the time I made it to corner 10, I was just thinking ‘build speed, build speed.”

Wesenberg, 28, grew up in California’s Central Valley, but her interest in sliding sports piqued while watching the 2010 Vancouver Games. When the commentators discussed the athletic backgrounds of the athletes, Wesenberg realized she played some of the same sports growing up. A quick Google search brought her to the USA Bobsled and Skeleton page. She told her siblings she was thinking of trying skeleton. They said she’d never do it. Challenge accepted.

Wesenberg emailed a U.S. coach and signed up for a combine and driving training in January 2011. Seven years later, she was sliding on Olympic ice.

Sliding coverage continues today on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, with women’s bobsled live at 3:15 p.m. ET and men’s bobsled live at 4:15.

 

Mikaela Shiffrin could win historic world title, not that she’s keeping track

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Mikaela Shiffrin has spent her career breaking records.

When she claimed slalom gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, she became the youngest-ever Olympic champion in the discipline, as well as the youngest American to win gold in any alpine skiing event.

When she won the slalom at the 2017 World Championships, she became the first woman to win three consecutive world titles in the discipline in 78 years.

On Dec. 22, she notched her 50th World Cup victory, becoming the youngest skier – and also just the eighth all-time – to reach the mark.

One week later, she broke the women’s record for most career slalom wins on the World Cup circuit (she now owns 38).

So far at these 2019 World Championships, she has claimed super-G gold and giant slalom bronze.

For those who like discussing alpine skiing records, Shiffrin is a gift. With each win, we dig into the databases and comb through stats to find some new nugget of information, some fresh way of qualifying her level of success. It’s our way of providing historic context for the way a 23-year-old skier from Colorado carves turns down a snowy slope. Because while it seems obvious that what she is doing is historic, records are the result of asking the question, “Historic in what way?”

To discuss these records, we become fluent in qualifier words. Words like ‘youngest’ or ‘oldest.’ Phrases like ‘first woman’ or ‘first American.’ Qualifier words are what make records accurate, but if you add enough of them, anything can become a record.

Given Shiffrin’s age, the fact that the majority of her success has come in a single discipline (slalom), and that the United States does not boast the deepest alpine skiing team, most of her accolades and records are qualified by these terms.

But at the 2019 World Championships in Are, Sweden, there’s a different type of record on the line, a record that doesn’t have anything to do with age, gender, nationality, or discipline. That’s because no alpine skier has ever won four straight world championship titles in the same discipline.

Full stop.

Seven athletes, including Shiffrin, have won three straight world titles in the same discipline since the first world championships were held in 1931.

  • Christl Cranz of Germany won three straight in both the slalom and the combined in 1937, 1938, and 1939. Cranz won the combined again at the 1941 World Championships, but given that the competition only included Axis-friendly nations, the international ski federation cancelled the results three years later. The world alpine skiing championships then went on hiatus until 1948 due to World War II and Cranz wasn’t competing by the time they were held again.
  • France’s Marielle Goitschel also won three straight titles in the combined (1962, 1964, 1966), but she finished second behind Canadian Nancy Greene in 1968.
  • Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden claimed three straight slalom titles in 1978, 1980, and 1982. But in his attempt for a fourth straight, he instead placed fourth, 0.92 seconds behind the winner.
  • Switzerland’s Erika Hess won three straight combined titles in 1982, 1985, and 1987, but then retired from competition.
  • Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt claimed three straight in the combined (1997, 1999, 2001), but it was American Bode Miller who claimed gold in 2003, with Aamodt finishing third.
  • American Ted Ligety won three straight giant slalom titles between 2011 and 2015, but he didn’t have the chance to go for a fourth straight after injury caused him to miss the 2017 World Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

Finally, there’s Shiffrin, who has claimed the last three world titles in slalom.

She’ll step into the start house on Saturday with the opportunity to become the first athlete to win four straight world titles in the same discipline. Not the first woman or the first American or the first in slalom. The first athlete. It’s a simple record, unencumbered by qualifier words.

But while Shiffrin is a goal setter, she isn’t a record chaser. The Colorado native has always insisted that she puts more emphasis on the way she skis than the result that appears next to her name.

“High standards, but low expectations,” she said in a media call in January. “That sort of mentality is what allows me to ski my best. If I think about the results first, I tend to kind of tighten up, and it’s not as easy.”

She emphasized this in a long Instagram post last Saturday, writing, “From the outside, people see the records and stats. As I have said, those numbers dehumanize the sport and what every athlete is trying to achieve… My goal has never been to break records for most WC wins, points or most medals at World Champs. My goal is to be a true contender every time I step into the start…”

Needless to say, Shiffrin likely isn’t entering Saturday’s slalom thinking about the historic implications of winning a fourth straight slalom title, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be a significant accomplishment.

Of all the ‘firsts’ that Shiffrin has added to her resume – whether consciously or not – this one would mean something different. It would solidify her status not only as one of the greatest female skiers or greatest slalom skiers or greatest American skiers, but instead underscore the fact that she is, simply, just one of the greatest.

 

Coverage of the Women’s Slalom at the 2019 World Alpine Skiing Championships: 

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 5:00 a.m. Women’s Slalom (Run 1) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
7:00 a.m. Women’s Slalom (Run 1)* NBCSN
8:00 a.m. Women’s Slalom (Run 2) NBCSN NBCSN/NBC Sports Gold
1:00 p.m. Women’s Slalom* NBC

*Same-day delay

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