Marcel Hirscher secures GS win with second run magic

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A mid-race fog rolled in and put the brakes on the men’s giant slalom event in Adelboden, Switzerland. Austria’s Marcel Hirscher was forced into a holding pattern, while sitting in second place behind Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen, after his first run.

After a 45-minute delay, the skiers got the all clear, and Hirscher roared back to win his fourth GS of the season.

Hirscher attacked the course in his second run to take the lead by just over a second. With no room for error, Kristoffersen dropped in, but halfway down course it was apparent the Norwegian would not have the speed to overtake Hirscher. Kristoffersen finished in second, .71 hundredths of a second behind Hirscher. France’s Thomas Fanara finished third for his second GS podium of the season. Full results are here.

The giant slalom in Adelboden marked Hirscher’s attempt to reclaim the top podium spot after he opened the 2018-19 season with three-straight GS wins. Hirscher then dropped out of the top three, placing sixth in the fourth installment in Saalbach back in December.

At the conclusion of the first run in Adelboden, Kristoffersen clung to a slim .12 hundredths of a second lead over Hirscher. When asked about having to go “all in” on his second run after the race, Hirscher explained his strategy.

“It’s always important to give 100%, and on the other hand, to have [the] perfect setup on my feet,” Hirsher explained. “And it worked amazing on my second run.”

Knowing he had to compete with Hirscher, Kristoffersen went all in when he blasted out of the start gate for his opening run. Kristoffersen was in full control of his line through the midsection of the course. Only as he made his final turn toward the finish did it appear his body was starting to feel the punishment of the mountain. The Norwegian elicited an audible gasp from the grandstand when he caught more air than he may have expected, just two gates from the finish.

Tommy Ford laid down some impressive first tracks for U.S. skiers, positioning himself in 5th, .39 hundredths of a second behind the lead, after his opening run. Ford made a play for the podium, placing third after finishing his second run with a “rough ride” as he called it as he caught his breathe at the bottom. Unfortunately for Ford, at that point too many heavy hitters remained in the start gate. Ford finished in sixth, a personal best a Adelboden, on a course which Hirscher described after the race as “maybe the hardest GS in the world.”

Also skiing for the U.S., Ted Ligety showed his grit as he battled pain to finish the day in 16th. Ligety’s health continues to be his biggest hurdle. He underwent back surgery which ended his 2016-17 World Cup season, but the five-time GS Crystal Globe winner was able to bounce back for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. His best finish this season came in Beaver Creek, when he finished 7th in the GS.

Tomorrow in Adelboden, the men are back on the slopes competing in slalom. Watch the second run on Olympic Channel or stream it on NBC Sports Gold at 7:30 a.m. EST.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

Joan Benoit Samuelson
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Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

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