Shiffrin doubles up, breaks two World Cup records with single slalom win

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U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin made good on the slopes of Semmering, Austria, giving alpine racing fans a thrill by becoming both the winningest skier in World Cup history in women’s slalom and setting a new record for most wins in a calendar year.

Shiffrin now holds the record for most World Cup slalom wins for a woman with 36. On her way to history she passed her childhood hero, Marlies Schild of Austria. Throughout her career Shiffrin has said Schild will always be the greatest, regardless of how many races she may win.

“Marlies for me, she’s always going to be the best,” Shiffrin said after the win. “I wouldn’t be where I am, without being able to watch her.”

Picking up her 36th World Cup slalom victory also makes Shiffrin the second winningest slalom skier for a man or woman on the World Cup. She now needs just four more wins to tie Sweden’s legendary Ingemar Stenmark for the top spot.

Shiffrin also set the single-year win record for any skier in tour history with the slalom victory — her 15th in 2018.

And just to add a little more icing to an already sweet day, Shiffrin’s slalom win was also the 51st time she topped a World Cup podium, pushing her past Italy’s Alberto Tomba on the World Cup all-time win list where she is now in sole possession of the seventh spot.

After the first trip down the slalom course in Semmering, Shiffrin and Petra Vlhova of Slovakia were sitting one and two in the standings.  Shiffrin came up short a day earlier when Vlhova posted the best time in the giant slalom, effectively putting all record setting for Shiffrin on hold.

Shiffrin took the early lead in the slalom with a .48 hundredths of a second gap between herself and Vlhova after the first run. The lead was much more comfortable on this day as opposed to the .02 hundredths of a second lead Shiffrin had after yesterday’s first run in the GS.  

Indeed, the record books required edits after Shiffrin’s second slalom run. As she climbed into the start gate, Shiffrin needed to ski faster than her Friday rival Vlhova once more. Vlhova sat in the leader’s chair with a .09 hundredths of a second lead, but it wasn’t enough. Shiffrin answered with a second run .29 hundredths of a second faster.

“[My] second run was more of a battle. I was trying to not risk everything, but making speed on every turn,” Shiffrin explained. “I had a couple mistakes…where I was fighting for my life.

”But it was a good fight.”

Joining Shiffrin and Vlhova on the podium in third was Switzerland’s Wendy HoldenerFull results are here.

Meanwhile in Bormio, the men’s World Cup tour continued with the Super-G. Friday’s downhill winner, and Bormio local, Italy’s Dominik Paris found the speed he needed to pick up his second win of the weekend. Grinding through the lower section of the course, Paris made up time and crossed the finish to beat the reigning Olympic champion in Super-G, Austria’s Mathias Mayer by just .01 hundredth of a second. Full results are here.

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Ginny Fuchs hopes to emerge from OCD, tearful Olympic experience

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None of the boxers at this week’s U.S. Olympic Trials competed at a prior Olympics, but flyweight Ginny Fuchs remembers the specifics of her one Olympic experience in Rio.

Fuchs, who won the 2016 Olympic trials but failed to clinch a spot at the Games in international qualifiers, was nonetheless named team captain and brought to Rio as a sparring partner.

She had mixed feelings. Watching from the crowd as Claressa Shields repeated as Olympic champion on the final day of the Games was motivating. Fuchs had toyed with turning professional but, after talking to Shields, decided to forge another four years as an amateur for another chance to become an Olympian.

The Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony, two weeks before that Shields final, was too much for Fuchs to bear. She could not stay in the Athletes’ Village nor march with the U.S. delegation at the Maracana.

“I remember watching the Opening Ceremony at the place I was at with everybody,” she said. “I couldn’t watch. It was hard for me to watch. I went back to my room, cried and went to bed.”

Fuchs is favored to win the 51kg/112-pound division this week at Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Lake Charles, La., with finals streaming live on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Sunday (4-7 p.m. ET). It’s one of five women’s Olympic weight classes, up from three in 2012 and 2016, the first two editions of the Games for female boxers.

No boxer can clinch an Olympic spot this week, but failing to make a final would all but end Tokyo hopes.

Fuchs’ toughest opponent in this Olympic cycle — which included an undefeated 2017 and a 2018 World bronze medal among more than 130 fights — may be herself. Fuchs has been open about struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It started in fifth grade.

“I can remember the first time I was on the school bus, and I was looking at the ground and looking at everybody’s backpacks on the floor,” said Fuchs, a 31-year-old from the Houston area. “And an instant thought came in mind, like, Oh my god. Everybody’s backpack is getting contaminated by this dirty floor on the bus.”

She cited a more recent example: spending up to 40 minutes washing her hands searching for that “perfect clean feeling.” Fuchs found boxing via a boyfriend after she was kicked off the LSU cross-country running team as a freshman walk-on for damaging school property in a prank.

She said the disorder hit her hardest this year. In January, she was driving to a Walmart three times a day to buy cleaning supplies, according to The New York Times.

She underwent intensive therapy and skipped October’s world championships, where she could have established herself as a clear Olympic gold-medal favorite.

“I still am going to probably do therapy for the rest of my life,” Fuchs said. “Maybe not as intense as I’m doing it right now, but it’s almost like training for boxing.

“You’ve got to keep training to keep winning in boxing. So I’ve got to keep training my OCD thoughts and how to handle and manage it. … Boxing is giving me hope almost. Like OK, outside the ring and in my room and the bathroom, I feel like [OCD] controls me and feel trapped. But I have this environment in this space in the gym, in the boxing ring, where I can be myself. And not let it attack me in a way where I can still enjoy life and not be trapped.”

Should Fuchs make the final of her division in Lake Charles, she will advance to a January camp and tournament, after which the U.S. roster for Olympic qualifying will be named.

If selected, Fuchs would head to a North and South American Olympic qualifying event in early spring in Buenos Aires to clinch the spot she could not secure four years ago. If necessary, she could get a second chance at a global qualifier in May in Paris.

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Yulia Efimova has lawyer ready if Russia ban affects her

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Yulia Efimova, the Russian swimmer who earned two Rio Olympic silver medals after initially being excluded from the Games for serving a prior doping ban, is bracing for another legal fight after the latest sanctions against her nation.

On Monday, Russia was banned from the 2020 and 2022 Olympics and the next four years of world championships in Olympic sports due to more recent anti-doping violations. However, its athletes can still compete as neutrals, if meeting specific anti-doping criteria, similar to how they did at the PyeongChang Winter Games.

Efimova was initially barred from the Rio Olympics under an IOC mandate that any Russian who previously served a doping ban would be ineligible due to the country’s anti-doping violations at that time.

Efimova appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which ruled that IOC stipulation unenforceable. She went on to earn 100m and 200m breaststroke silver medals and develop a rivalry with American Lilly King, who said Efimova should not have been eligible.

It’s unclear from Monday’s ruling whether Efimova will be allowed to compete as a neutral, should Russia accept the sanctions or any appeal to CAS by the nation be denied.

“I will behave in a similar way,” to 2016, Efimova said, according to RT.com. “I have already hired a lawyer. There is a rule that a person can’t be punished twice for the same offense. If you violate a driving code or instigated a brawl you will not be punished twice for that. I hope it will work, but I cannot be sure of [a positive outcome].

“Right after my race at the Rio Games, I said that this doping controversy was not over, it was just the beginning, and we would have problems in the future. It was quite clear. And with every new year the situation is only getting worse and worse.”

Efimova, 27 and the two-time reigning world 200m breast champion, was banned 16 months between 2013 and 2015 after testing positive for a steroid. A FINA panel ruled that Efimova was not intentionally trying to cheat but was negligent in failing to read the label of a GNC store supplement.

“Yes, long ago I made a doping violation,” Efimova said this week, according to RT. “But there are a great number of U.S. and European athletes who have a similar situation regarding doping, and they are competing without any restrictions. If you want to introduce those regulations, they must be equally applied to all athletes, not only Russian competitors.”

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