Getty Images

Single-season win record eludes Mikaela Shiffrin in Austria, finishes 5th in giant slalom

1 Comment

After Mikaela Shiffrin won her single season World Cup record-tying 14th race on December 22 — also her 50th career win on tour — she was asked if records mattered to her.

“It’s not really my motivation to break records,” Shiffrin said. “My big motivation is to ski well.”

After a short break for the Christmas holiday Shiffrin continued her 2018-19 World Cup season by skiing well in Semmering, Austria, however, others skied faster.

Shiffrin led the field by a slim .02 hundredths of a second lead after her first run. Austria’s Stephanie Brunner, skiing in front of her home crowd, initially posed the most-imminent threat to Shiffrin’s record-breaking day, while the FIS point leader in GS heading into the race, Italy’s Frederica Brignone, finished her first run .18 hundredths back in sixth place.

Ultimately, it was Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova who played spoiler to Shiffrin. Vlhova jumped from fourth to first after her second run. Skiing last, Shiffrin was unable to put together a run to bump Vlhova off the top podium spot and finished .66 hundredths behind the winner. Full results are here.

Shiffrin was looking for her 15th win of 2018 in Semmering, which would have made her the winningest skier in a single year on the World Cup.

Tomorrow Shiffrin can break two records with one event. In addition to the single-season win record, Shiffrin has a chance to take the top spot for career World Cup slalom wins. Watch the second run of women’s slalom tomorrow morning at 7:30 AM ET, streaming live on NBC Sports Gold.

In men’s World Cup downhill racing, Italy’s Dominik Paris won for the third time in his career on home snow in Bormio. Full results are here.

Paris’s first downhill win at Bormio was a tie in 2012 with Austria’s Hannes Reichelt. His second came in 2017, when Paris was able to hold off two of Norway’s “Attacking Vikings,” Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud, for the win.

U.S. skier Travis Ganong was back in Bormio on Friday, nearly a year after he tore a ligament in his knee on the same mountain in a brutal crash that resulted in him missing the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. A day before the race in training, Ganong’s struggles on the Italian slopes continued. Ganong went down again, this time avoiding injury, but after further discussions with his coaches, he withdrew from Friday’s race.

The World Cup event at Bormio wraps up for the men on Saturday with Super G. Watch live on the Olympic Channel at 5:30 AM ET or stream it on NBC Sports Gold.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: How to watch Mikaela Shiffrin ski for history this weekend

WATCH LIVE: U.S. Figure Skating Championships rhythm dance, women’s free skate

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Can Bradie Tennell hold off 14-year-old Alysa Liu? The U.S. Figure Skating Championships crowns its female medalists on Friday, live on NBC Sports.

Action starts with the rhythm dance at 4:30 p.m. ET for NBC Sports Gold subscribers, with NBCSN broadcast coverage joining in at 5. The women start at 7:25 on Gold, with NBC TV coverage starting at 8.

LIVE STREAM: Rhythm dance — Gold | NBCSN | Skate Order
LIVE STREAM: Women’s free skate — Gold | NBC | Skate Order

Tennell topped Thursday’s short program with a clean slate of jumps, plus the highest artistic score.

She bettered Liu in the short program last year, too, but fell in the free skate to take silver. Liu, meanwhile, landed two triple Axels to win by 3.92 points and become the youngest U.S. champion in history.

Another skater to watch is Gracie Gold, the two-time U.S. champion competing at nationals for the first time in three years. Gold, lauded for her return from an eating disorder, depression and anxiety, struggled with jumps in the short and is in 13th place of 18 skaters.

In the rhythm dance, past U.S. champions Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue and Madison Chock and Evan Bates are expected to begin a duel that should come down to Saturday’s free dance.

Key Skate Times
5:32 p.m. — Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue
5:38 — Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker
5:44 — Madison Chock/Evan Bates
8:07 — Gracie Gold
10:03 — Karen Chen
10:11 — Amber Glenn
10:27 — Bradie Tennell
10:35 — Mariah Bell
10:43 — Alysa Liu

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

Iran’s only female Olympic medalist, who defected, eyes Tokyo Games as German or refugee

AP
Leave a comment

LÜNEN, Germany (AP) — Iran’s only female Olympic medalist said Friday she wants to compete for Germany after defecting from her native country.

Kimia Alizadeh is trying to rebuild her life and career after she announced this month she had left Iran, citing sexism on the part of officials there.

“Even if I do not make it to the Olympics, it does not matter because I have made up my mind,” Alizadeh said at a meeting with journalists at a taekwondo club.

“I am sure that I will be judged by many, but I am just 21 years old and can attend world tournaments and future Olympics. However, I will spare no effort to get the best result at this time as well.”

She added she doesn’t expect ever to compete in Iran again.

Alizadeh was just 18 when she won bronze in taekwondo at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, catapulting her to instant fame at home. Despite Iran’s long history of victories in men’s wrestling and weightlifting, no Iranian woman had ever won a medal before.

However, Alizadeh was frustrated with life in Iran despite her Olympic success. In an Instagram post this month announcing she had left Iran, she accused Iranian officials of sexism and criticized wearing the mandatory hijab headscarf.

Alizadeh hasn’t given up hope of being able to compete at this year’s Olympics in Tokyo. However, getting there would require highly unusual exemptions from the usual rules on nationality switches and qualification, regardless of whether she tries to represent Germany or the International Olympic Committee’s refugee team.

Alizadeh spent time in the Netherlands before heading to Germany this week to meet with taekwondo officials there. The German Taekwondo Union has spoken up in favor of Alizadeh staying in the country in what it calls a first step toward her gaining nationality and becoming eligible to compete for Germany.

“If the German government assists me and I can go through this process as fast as possible, I might be able to make it to the Olympics, too,” she said.

In recent years, many Iranian athletes have left their country, citing government pressure. In September, the former world judo champion Saeed Mollaei moved to Germany after walking off the Iranian team at the world championships in Japan. He said Iranian officials had tried to force him to withdraw so as not to compete against an Israeli opponent.

Alireza Faghani, an Iranian international soccer referee, also left Iran for Australia last year.

Alizadeh said she just wants “a peaceful life,” and she’s not looking back.

“I have a great feeling to have made a decision for my life that would definitely change my future,” she said. “I think it is not even clear enough now and. in the years to come, I will understand what a good decision I made.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Full list of U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics