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Mikaela Shiffrin turns speed racer at Lake Louise

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Mikaela Shiffrin‘s slalom dominance consolidated, the double Olympic champion switches to speed racing, live on NBC Sports, NBC Sports Gold and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA this weekend.

Shiffrin is the headliner, expected to contest downhills on Friday and Saturday and a super-G on Sunday in Lake Louise, Alberta. She broke through in the Canadian Rockies last December, making her first downhill podium, then winning a downhill the following day.

Lindsey Vonn normally opens her campaign in earnest at Lake Louise, where she had so much success (18 of her 82 World Cup wins in 44 starts) that the venue is often nicknamed Lake Lindsey. But a training crash last week forced Vonn to delay her farewell season debut to, at the earliest, Dec. 8.

Shiffrin added downhills and super-Gs to her repertoire in the last Olympic cycle. While her Olympic and world medals are all in slalom, giant slalom and the super combined, she harbors a goal of winning a race in every discipline in the same season.

She already has two slalom wins in as many starts this fall, opening an early lead in the World Cup overall standings as she bids for at three-peat as the world’s best all-around skier. Shiffrin, 23 years old with 45 World Cup wins, can tie retired Austrian Renate Götschl for fourth on the World Cup list with one victory this weekend.

Her primary rivals in Lake Louise may be Slovenian Ilka Stuhec, the 2017 World downhill champion who missed last season with a torn ACL, and Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami, the 2016 World Cup overall champion. PyeongChang downhill gold medalist Sofia Goggia of Italy is out after breaking an ankle in October.

NBC Sports will also air live coverage of the men’s World Cup stop in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Two-time Olympic champion Ted Ligety won five World Cup giant slaloms at the venue, plus one of his three world titles in the GS. Ligety, riddled by injuries in the last Olympic cycle, eyes his first victory anywhere since October 2015.

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MORE: Alpine skiing season broadcast schedule

Asbel Kiprop, Olympic 1500m champ, banned 4 years

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Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic 1500m champion and a three-time world champ, was banned four years after testing positive for EPO in November 2017, according to track and field’s doping watchdog organization.

The ban is backdated to Feb. 3, 2018, when the 29-year-old was provisionally suspended after the failed test.

Kiprop repeatedly denied doping since last May, when he first acknowledged the positive test. Most recently, a 3,000-word defense from his lawyer was posted on Kiprop’s Facebook page.

Kiprop’s defenses included saying he was a victim of extortion and that he was offered “a reward” of becoming an anti-doping ambassador if he admitted guilt. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the IAAF’s independent organization to monitor doping and corruption, denied the latter last May.

A disciplinary panel dismissed six defenses from exonerating him, including the possibility his sample was spiked, in handing out the four-year ban.

Kiprop, the pre-eminent 1500m runner of the last decade, can appeal the ban.

At 19, he finished second in the Beijing Olympic 1500m but was upgraded to gold a year later after Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi failed a drug test. He is the youngest Olympic 1500m medalist of all time, according to the OlyMADMen.

Kiprop went on to earn three straight world titles in the 1500m in 2011, 2013 and 2015, matching the feats of retired legends Noureddine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj.

He struggled in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, finishing last in the London final with a hamstring injury and sixth in the Rio final won by American rival Matthew Centrowitz.

Kiprop has targeted El Guerrouj’s world record of 3:26:00, missing the mark by .69 of a second in 2015.

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Maggie Nichols is second woman in 20 years to repeat as NCAA all-around champ

Maggie Nichols
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Oklahoma junior and world champion gymnast Maggie Nichols became the first woman to repeat as NCAA all-around champion in 12 years, returning from a heel injury to compete on all four events for the first time since January on Friday.

Nichols, a Rio Olympic hopeful before being beset by a torn meniscus in 2016, joined 2004 Olympic silver medalist Courtney Kupets as the only women to win back-to-back NCAA all-arounds in the 2000s.

A junior, Nichols can next year join Jenny Hansen as the only women to three-peat in NCAA history.

Oklahoma goes for a third team title in four years on Saturday night against UCLA (featuring Olympic champions Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross), LSU and Denver.

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NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Individual Results
All-Around
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma) — 39.7125
2. Lexy Ramler (Minnesota) — 39.6625
2. Kyla Ross (UCLA) — 39.6625
4. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 39.65
5. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 39.6

Vault
1. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 9.95
1. Derrian Gobourne (Auburn)
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)

Uneven Bars
1. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 9.95

Balance Beam
1. Natalie Wojcik (Michigan) — 9.95

Floor Exercise
1. Alicia Boren (Florida) — 9.95
1. Lynnzee Brown (Denver)
1. Brenna Dowell (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)