Mikaela Shiffrin wins 50th World Cup, youngest to hit milestone

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Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest Alpine skier to reach 50 World Cup wins and tied a childhood idol for the career slalom victories record, prevailing in Courchevel, France on Saturday.

Shiffrin won for the second straight day, for her fifth straight start and for the 14th time in 2018, extending her female World Cup record for one year.

She beat Slovakian rival Petra Vlhova by .29 of a second over two runs, making up a .04 deficit on the last split, 16 seconds before the finish. Full results are here.

A day after yelling at the finish line, out of character, Shiffrin was her quieter self on Saturday with a pair of subdued arm pumps while breathing heavily.

“Physically, my energy is good,” Shiffrin, who overcame a back injury and illness in recent weeks, said after having the fastest first run by .04 over Vlhova, “but mentally waking up is a struggle.”

The 23-year-old supplanted all-time wins leader Ingemar Stenmark as the quickest to 50 victories by age (by two months). However, Stenmark reached 50 wins in 100 starts, while Shiffrin did it in 142 starts. Lindsey Vonn did it in 297, according to Olympic historian Bill Mallon of the OlyMADMen.

“I was trying as hard as I could not to focus on [the 50 milestone] today because it’s so distracting to think about those numbers,” Shiffrin said. “There’s, like, a list of statistics and records that happened today, and I don’t even know what they are. … I’m not chasing these victories. I’m skiing freely.”

It’s likely Shiffrin gets to 60 World Cup wins before February’s world championships. The next five races through Jan. 8 are all giant slaloms or slaloms, Shiffrin’s specialties.

“I think she will beat all the records that you can beat,” said Swede Frida Hansdotter, who took slalom gold in PyeongChang (when Shiffrin was shockingly fourth) and was third on Saturday.

Shiffrin now has 35 slalom wins, matching retired Austrian Marlies Schild for the female record in that discipline. Shiffrin, who has 39 slalom wins if including head-to-head parallel events, still defers to Schild as the greatest female slalom skier ever.

“She was the one who made it possible for me to ski slalom the way that I do,” said Shiffrin, who as a teen studied video of Schild’s technique and said last month that she still watches her old runs. “So I can’t ever feel like, oh yeah, I took that record from her.”

The World Cup moves to Semmering, Austria, for a giant slalom and slalom next weekend, streaming live on NBC Sports Gold.

“I’m going to go hibernate for the next four days,” Shiffrin joked.

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Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

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Conseslus Kipruto tests positive for coronavirus, canceling world-record bid

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Conseslus Kipruto, the Olympic and world 3000m steeplechase champion, tested positive for the coronavirus without symptoms, which will keep him from a world-record chase on Friday, according to his social media.

The Kenyan was to race in the first in-person Diamond League meet of the year in Monaco on Friday.

“Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities,” was posted. “Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League.

“I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well.”

Kipruto, 25, is the 14th-fastest steepler in history with a personal best of 8:00.12. The world record is 7:53.63, set by Kenyan-born Qatari Saif Saaeed Shaheen in 2004.

Last year, Kipruto won the world title by .01, extending a streak of a Kenyan or Kenyan-born man winning every Olympic or world title in the event since the 1988 Seoul Games. He was sidelined by a stress fracture in his left foot until opening his season extremely late on Aug. 24.

MORE: Trayvon Bromell’s road back through destruction, death

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Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities. Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League on August 14th. I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well. Wish to thank Monaco for all the work they have done and I wish them and my colleagues a wonderful competition. Athletics is back and I will be back as well. Anyone willing to organise a steeple once I can be cleared? @diamondleaguemonaco #nike #quarantine #WR #Kenya

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