David Boudia changes diving events after concussion

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David Boudia says he has dived off the 10-meter platform in competition for the last time.

“Definitely done,” he said.

But Boudia will still go for a fourth Olympics in 2020 — on the three-meter springboard instead.

Boudia, the 2012 Olympic platform champion and four-time medalist, switched after returning to training in early summer from a February concussion.

The 29-year-old said he just about belly-flopped in a February crashed dive in platform practice, the worst he had missed a dive in more than a decade. His head and stomach hit the water first, and he took most of the next week off while also dealing with sinus issues.

It wasn’t until April that Boudia stopped training on the platform altogether, though, and saw a doctor after struggling with dizziness, blackouts, numbness and fatigue.

Boudia was told he had not taken enough time off after the February crash, so he rested for six weeks and consulted with longtime coach Adam Soldati. They decided to leave the platform in his past after three Olympics and 14 years.

Part of it was the anxiety Boudia, married with two daughters, had climbing the equivalent of three stories and diving again after the crash. Part of it was physical. It’s easier to recover from practice on the springboard than on the platform, and at 29, Boudia is in the latter part of his career.

“I was just mentally checked out of platform,” Boudia said, summarizing. “We needed to freshen up. We just needed a turn in our training.”

Boudia competed last week for the first time since the Rio Olympics and on the springboard for the first time in four years. He placed second at a Grand Prix event in Australia that lacked a springboard medalist from the most recent Olympics, world championships or FINA World Cup.

He’s next headed to Atlanta for Winter Nationals in December.

As the Olympic Trials get closer, Boudia hopes to add synchronized springboard. The plan is to “give it a whirl” with 2016 Olympic silver-medal synchro platform partner Steele Johnson once Johnson returns from foot surgery in 2019.

Other high-profile divers shed platform late in their careers, such as Russian Dmitry Sautin and Canadian Alexandre DespatieMark Ruiz was the last American to compete individually at the Olympics in both springboard and platform, doing so in the same Games at Sydney 2000.

Boudia considered the switch at this point in the last Olympic cycle. In December 2014, he broke his right foot slipping off the board in practice. Early in 2015, Boudia scrapped the springboard.

“Going into the Rio Games, I think that I would be able to do well on three events [both platform events and individual springboard], but I don’t think I could have done great,” he said. “We invested all of our time in those two events on platform so that we could get the best results.”

That led to Boudia earning medals in both of his Olympic events for a second straight Games, the synchro silver and individual bronze in Brazil. Boudia then considered retiring while taking a year off after Rio. His career may end in Tokyo in two years.

“If it’s looking like this, yes [2020 will be the last Olympics], as far as the toll it takes,” he said with an exhale. “I’m going to be 31 at this next Olympic Games, but we’ll get through the next two years and figure what the future looks like.”

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MORE: Relive Greg Louganis diving board accident on 30th anniversary

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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