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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Larry Nassar judge, Olympians back USOC oversight push in Congress

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DENVER (AP) — The judge who sentenced former sports doctor Larry Nassar to prison and a group of Olympians are backing an effort to create a commission to look into the operations of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Michigan Judge Rosemarie Aquilina joined the athletes and Colorado’s U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette in Denver on Monday to announce the planned introduction of the bipartisan bill Tuesday in the House. It mirrors one introduced in January by Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in the Senate, a standard practice in Congress. It would set up a panel of 16 people, half of them Olympians or Paralympians, with subpoena power.

Aquilina urged people to ask their congressional representatives to support the legislation and add their names as co-sponsors. Aquilina said she became involved because this wasn’t a partisan issue, but a “human thing. This is justice for everybody. Isn’t that what judges are supposed to be — about equal justice?”

“It’s troubling for me to hear that money and medals are valued more than the safety of athletes. We have to flip that script,” added Aquilina, who sentenced Nassar to what equates to life in prison. “How is it that the Olympics do not protect their athletes? That’s their company. That’s their bread and butter.”

The latest legislation to establish the commission comes six months after a congressional report in the wake of the Nassar sex-abuse case that recommended a review of the law that governs the USOC and how the USOC can use its authority to more actively protect athletes.

USOC spokesman Mark Jones said in a statement they will “continue to work constructively with both the House and the Senate to create healthy and safe environments for the American athletes we serve.”

Among the panel’s duties would be to evaluate how responsive the national governing bodies of each Olympic sports are to the athletes, and whether the U.S. Center for SafeSport has proper funding to effectively respond to any future reports of harassment and sexual assault. In addition, the panel would review the diversity of the USOC’s board members, its finances and whether it’s achieving its stated goals.

Gardner said he’s talked to former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about serving on the panel. “That’s likely the kind of caliber that we need,” Gardner said.

Olympic champions Nancy Hogshead-Makar, BJ Bedford and Norm Bellingham, along with Paralympic gold medalist Sarah Will were among those in attendance.

“No amount of gold medals are worth putting the health and safety of our athletes at risk,” DeGette said. “When the very body that Congress created to care for our athletes becomes more concerned about winning and protecting a brand than the athletes themselves — it’s time for change.”

Rob Koehler said he believes this will be a big step forward for athletes. He’s the director general of a group called Global Athlete, which is designed to help athletes gain a more represented voice.

“It’s time to make sure there is independent oversight, that the government takes a brave leadership role, not only for the United States but as an example for other countries, that it’s no longer acceptable for sport to self-govern itself,” Koehler said. “It’s all about the athletes. We lose focus of that. This movement is about celebrating athletes’ victories, and the growth potential is there.”

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Luca Urlando breaks Michael Phelps butterfly record

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Luca Urlando, the grandson of an Italian Olympic hammer thrower, appears to be the U.S. successor to Michael Phelps in the 200m butterfly.

Urlando, 17, broke Phelps’ national 17-18 age group record in Phelps’ trademark event on Friday night, clocking 1:53.84 at a Tyr Pro Series meet in Clovis, Calif. Phelps’ mark (1:53.93) was set in 2003, when it doubled as the world record. Urlando previously broke high school age group records held by Phelps and Caeleb Dressel in 25-yard pools.

Urlando is now the third-fastest American in history in the 200m butterfly behind Phelps and Tyler Clary. He also ranks third in the world this year behind Hungarians Kristof Milak and Tamas Kenderesi.

But Urlando will not be at July’s world championships as that team was decided in 2018.

Last summer, Urlando was the highest-ranking U.S. swimmer not to make the Pan Pacific Championships team, though it was initially announced that he did make it.

Had Urlando made Pan Pacs and then swum .17 faster there than he did at nationals, he would have made the team for July’s world championships. Urlando went to Junior Pan Pacs instead last summer and did not swim faster than at nationals.

Should Urlando make the Tokyo Games, he is in line to be the youngest U.S. Olympic male swimmer since 2000, when a 15-year-old Phelps made his Olympic debut.

His grandfather, Giampaolo Urlando, threw the hammer for Italy at the 1976, 1980 and 1984 Olympics with a best finish of seventh. He originally was fourth at Los Angeles 1984 before being disqualified for testosterone.

Luca’s father, Alessandro Urlando, holds the University of Georgia school record in the discus. Luca, a rising Sacramento high school senior, is committed to Georgia.

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