Mikaela Shiffrin rallies in parallel slalom for third straight World Cup win

Leave a comment

Mikaela Shiffrin earned a third straight World Cup win, her fifth in nine races this season and the 48th of her career, taking a parallel slalom in St. Moritz, Switzerland on Sunday. But it was close.

The Olympic slalom and giant slalom champion cruised through the bracket-format event before a close final. Shiffrin qualified fastest by .48 of a second, then won each of her four head-to-head rounds by clear margins (1.31, .62, .2 and .56) before rallying to beat Slovakian Petra Vlhova by .11 in the final.

Last December, Shiffrin edged Vlhova by .04 in a parallel slalom.

“I saw the look in her eyes before the final at the start,” Shiffrin said of her younger rival. “I was thinking, ooh, she really wants to beat me.”

Shiffrin made an early mistake in the final and trailed Vlhova midway down the side-by-side courses before pushing ahead in the last several gates.

“I was going a little bit off the course, and I could see her next to me, just ahead,” Shiffrin said. “She was going faster and faster, and I was thinking, oh, no, you’re giving it away.”

Shiffrin is the first woman to win five of the first nine races in a season since Lindsey Vonn in 2011.

“If you want to beat her,” Vlhova said, “you have to go without any mistake.”

Shiffrin, who has been a little ill in St. Moritz, will skip next week’s downhill and super-G in Val Gardena, Italy. Her next expected starts are a Dec. 21-22 giant slalom and slalom in Courchevel, France.

If Shiffrin wins that slalom, she will tie Austrian Marlies Schild‘s record 35 slalom victories. If she wins both Courchevel races, Shiffrin will tie Alberto Tomba for seventh on the World Cup list with 50 victories.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Lindsey Vonn gets favorite course named after her

Asbel Kiprop, Olympic 1500m champ, banned 4 years

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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

Maggie Nichols
Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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)