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

3 Comments

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Serena Williams named AP Female Athlete of the Year

Simone Biles, her name sparkling, extends 6-year win streak

Leave a comment

Simone Biles has long stood out for her gymnastics, but on Saturday she competed with her last name sparkling in silver beads on her World Champions Centre leotard for the first time. The gym’s other athletes had “WCC” on the back.

Biles lived up to the billing, extending her six-year win streak to 19 straight all-arounds, capturing the U.S. Classic, a tune-up for next month’s U.S. Championships.

Biles, the four-time Rio Olympic champion, scored 60 points in Louisville at the meet where she made her comeback last year after nearly two years off from competition. She prevailed by a comfortable 2.1 points over Riley McCusker, her largest margin of victory of her four U.S. Classic titles.

“I’m very satisfied,” she said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “I’m a little sad that I went out of bounds on floor [exercise], but overall I feel like there are improvements to be made.”

Full results are here.

Biles is prepping for nationals in Kansas City in three weeks, when she eyes a sixth U.S. all-around title to tie Clara Schroth Lomady‘s record from the AAU era in the 1940s and ’50s.

Then come the world championships in October in Stuttgart, Germany. Biles could win a fifth all-around to move one shy of Kohei Uchimura‘s record.

The world’s other top gymnasts may be her countrywomen.

Biles was outscored on balance beam on Saturday by 2018 World teammates Kara Eaker and McCusker and beaten on uneven bars by 2017 World all-around champion Morgan HurdSunisa Lee, Grace McCallum and McCusker. Biles swept all the gold medals at last year’s nationals.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: USA Gymnastics revamps Safe Sport policy amid abuse scandal

Geraint Thomas struggles; Julian Alaphilippe ups Tour de France lead

Leave a comment

LA MONGIE, France (AP) — When the team of Geraint Thomas was in its pomp at the Tour de France, a time trial followed by a big mountain stage would have been playgrounds for Sky — now in new colors as Ineos — to take cycling’s greatest race by the scruff of the neck and leave everyone else fighting for second place.

Not this year.

Thomas, the defending champion, cracked on Saturday on the Tour’s first encounter with a climb to above 2,000 meters (6,500 feet), exposing unprecedented weaknesses in his team that has won six Tours in the past seven years.

The time trial on Friday and the climb up to the legendary Tourmalet pass on Saturday seemed primed for Thomas to reel in Julian Alaphilippe, the yellow jersey-holder from France who is setting the Tour alight with his punchy riding and determination to keep the race lead, filling French fans’ heads with dreams of a first homegrown winner since 1985.

TOUR DE FRANCE: TV Schedule | Full Standings

But instead, Thomas has seen Alaphilippe only get further and further away. In two days, the Frenchman has put 50 seconds of extra daylight between him and the Welshman. His lead — up to 2 minutes, 2 seconds — is becoming large enough to start realistically envisioning Alaphilippe in yellow in Paris next weekend as the first French winner since Bernard Hinault.

Fueling the ecstasy of delirious crowds that lined Saturday’s steep uphill finish, French rider Thibaut Pinot won Stage 14, putting him back in the picture to fight for the podium after he lost mountains of time on Stage 10.

Thomas rightly pointed out that the Tour is far from done, with six more ascents to above 2,000 meters still to come.

But his inability to stay with Pinot, Alaphilippe and other title contenders at the top of the Tourmalet — he was eighth, 36 seconds behind Pinot — was a mini-earthquake for the Tour dominated by his British team since 2012 — with champions Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and, in 2018, Thomas.

“Not the best day. I just didn’t feel quite on it from the start. I was quite weak,” Thomas said.

“At the end I knew I just had to pace it. I didn’t really attempt to follow when they kicked. I just thought I should ride my own pace rather than follow them and blow up on the steepest bit at the end. It’s disappointing. I just tried to limit the damage.”

Having taken cycling to a new level since 2012 with its vast budget and attention to the minutest of details, the team run by David Brailsford has been hit both by misfortune and by the inevitability that, eventually, other teams would start to close the gap.

A horror crash in training for four-time winner Froome, now recovering from career-threatening broken bones, robbed the team of its ace. Thomas’ own preparations were hampered by a crash at the Tour of Switzerland last month.

And Egan Bernal, being groomed by Brailsford to succeed Froome and Thomas, looks increasingly unable to compete for the title this year. Bernal was fifth on the Tourmalet and is fourth overall, 3 minutes behind Alaphilippe.

Pinot, now sixth overall and 3:12 behind Alaphilippe, is showing remarkable grit in bouncing back from his Stage 10 misfortune, when he was part of a group that got separated from other title contenders in crosswinds.

“I have this rage inside me, because in my opinion it was an injustice,” said Pinot, a podium finisher in 2014.

“Since the start of the Tour I had this stage in the back of my mind. The Tourmalet, it’s mythical,” said Pinot, who has three career stage wins at the Tour.

French President Emmanuel Macron, on hand at the top of the Tourmalet to see Pinot win and Alaphilippe extend his lead, gushed about the “two fantastic riders.”

“They attack and they have heart,” Macron said.

Watch world-class cycling events throughout the year with the NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass, including all 21 stages of the Tour de France live & commercial-free, plus access to renowned races like La Vuelta, Paris-Roubaix, the UCI World Championships and many more.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!