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

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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.

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

World champion wins doping case citing bodily fluids from boyfriend

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — A world champion canoeist won a doping case Monday after persuading a tribunal that her positive test was caused by bodily fluid contamination from her boyfriend.

The International Canoe Federation (ICF) ended its investigation into 11-time world champion Laurence Vincent Lapointe, who tested positive for a steroid-like substance in July. She faced a four-year ban and could have missed her event’s Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games.

The Canadian canoe sprint racer and her lawyer detailed in a news program that laboratory analysis of hair from her then-boyfriend showed he was likely responsible for a tiny presence of ligandrol in her doping sample.

“The ICF has accepted Ms. Vincent Lapointe’s evidence which supports that she was the victim of third-party contamination,” the governing body said in a statement, clearing her to return to competition.

The legal debate is similar to tennis player Richard Gasquet’s 2009 acquittal in the “cocaine kiss” case. The Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted Gasquet’s defense that kissing a woman who had taken cocaine in a Miami nightclub, after he had withdrawn injured from a tournament, caused his positive test.

The 27-year-old Vincent Lapointe was provisionally suspended for almost six months and missed the 2019 World Championships, which was a key qualifying event for the Tokyo Olympics. American 17-year-old Nevin Harrison won the 200m world title in her absence.

She can still qualify for the Olympic debut of women’s canoe sprint events with victory at a World Cup event in May in Germany.

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U.S. women’s soccer team begins Olympic qualifying, which should rest on one match

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The U.S. women’s soccer team has never been in danger in Olympic qualifying, but that doesn’t change this fact: It must win on Feb. 7 to reach the Tokyo Games.

The CONCACAF tournament begins Tuesday in Houston, where the world champion Americans face world No. 72 Haiti. The last two group games are against No. 68 Panama on Friday and No. 37 Costa Rica on Feb. 3. The top two nations from the group advance to Feb. 7 semifinals.

The U.S. roster, with 18 of its 20 players coming from the 2019 World Cup team, is here.

Since CONCACAF qualifies two nations to the Olympics, the semifinals are the deciding games.

Should the U.S. win its group, it would face the runner-up from the other group in a winner-goes-to-Tokyo match. The other group (world ranking):

Canada (8)
Mexico (37)
Jamaica (53)
St. Kitts and Nevis (127)

Chaos could result in the unlikely event that either the U.S. or Canada finishes second in its group, and the two North American powers play a semifinal.

The U.S. is undefeated in Olympic qualifying history, since the tournament format began in 2004 — 15-0 with a goal differential of 88-1 (not counting matches played once they’ve already clinched qualification). The lone goal allowed came in a group-stage match in 2008, when the U.S. was already assured a spot in the semifinals.

Still, the U.S. knows the feeling of one poor outing in an important match. In 2010, it lost to Mexico in a winner-to-the-World Cup match. The U.S. was forced to win a last-chance, home-and-home playoff against a UEFA team — Italy — for the last spot in the World Cup.

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