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Austria’s Stephanie Venier tames rough downhill for first World Cup win

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Racing was halted almost before it started in Germany today in the women’s World Cup downhill. When the second and third skiers out of the gate flew through the air off a jump further than the FIS race director felt was safe, crews were on the course making adjustments, shaving down the Seilbahn Stadl, or Gondola Barn, jump.

Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel was next up, skiing fourth. Mowinckel’s guinea pig run was a success, as teams began relaying the new course recon up to the start gate.

Watching her fellow skiers find the best line to the finish, Austria’s Stephanie Venier, skiing 11th, used the precious intel to her advantage, picking up her first World Cup win. Venier was able to relegate reigning Olympic downhill champion, Italy’s Sofia Goggia, to second place by .25 hundredths of a second. Venier was also on the downhill podium last weekend, taking third in Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Goggia nabbed her second podium finish of the weekend, in what was her first World Cup event since fracturing her ankle earlier this season. Germany’s Kira Weidle, skiing on the home snow, finished third.

Full results are here.

Austria’s Cornelia Huetter, seventh in World Cup downhill standings, avoided serious injury and skied away from a nasty red-net crash when her skis knocked together to put her on her back in a rattly section on course.

The downhill in GaPa was the final speed event for the women before athletes head to Are, Sweden from February 4-17 for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.

Prior to Worlds, the women’s World Cup will race giant slalom and slalom in Maribor, Slovenia next weekend. On Friday, the GS gets underway at 4:00 a.m. ET and slalom begins on Saturday, also at 4:00 a.m. ET. Livestream both events on OlympicChannel.com or NBC Sports Gold.

Also on Sunday morning, the men were setting the Kitzbuehel Super-G course on fire with Germany’s Josef Ferstl picking up his first World Cup win of the season. France’s Johan Clarey and Italy’s Dominik Paris finished the day in second and third, respectively.

Full results are here.  

Next weekend the men’s tour takes over Garmisch-Partenkirchen, racing the downhill and giant slalom, after an early-week stop in Austria on Tuesday for a slalom competition. Catch the downhill from GaPa live Saturday morning on Olympic Channel or stream it on NBC Sports Gold starting at 5:30 a.m. ET. The second run of the men’s giant slalom on Sunday can be seen live on Olympic Channel at 7:30 a.m. ET, with streaming coverage beginning at 4:30 a.m. ET on OlympicChannel.com and NBC Sports Gold.

WATCH LIVE: Nathan Chen in U.S. Figure Skating Championships free skate

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Nathan Chen tries to become the first man to win four straight U.S. figure skating titles since 1988, live on NBC Sports on Sunday.

NBC Sports Gold streams live coverage of the men’s free skate for subscribers starting at 2:30 p.m. ET in Greensboro, N.C. NBC joins with TV coverage at 3.

LIVE STREAM: Men’s Free Skate — Gold | NBC | Skate Order

Chen, a 20-year-old Yale sophomore, is undefeated since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics. He can become the seventh man since World War II to win four straight national titles.

Five of the previous six went on to earn Olympic gold, including Dick ButtonScott Hamilton and, most recently, Brian Boitano in 1988.

Chen carries a substantial 13.14-point lead from Saturday’s short program, where he landed two quadruple jumps on one week of full training following a flu bout.

The anticipated drama Sunday comes in the battle for silver and bronze medals and the last two world championships team spots.

Jason BrownAndrew TorgashevVincent Zhou and Tomoki Hiwatashi are separated by 8.78 points. Brown, the 2015 U.S. champion, and Zhou, the 2019 World bronze medalist, are the only men in the field other than Chen with world team experience.

Key Skate Times
5:01 p.m. (ET) — Vincent Zhou
5:18 — Tomoki Hiwatashi
5:26 — Andrew Torgashev
5:35 — Nathan Chen
5:43 — Jason Brown

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NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

Mikaela Shiffrin, with 66th World Cup win, moves one shy of career dream

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Mikaela Shiffrin has said one of her career dreams is to win in every discipline in one season. She is now one victory shy of realizing it.

Shiffrin earned her 66th World Cup victory — and her second in three days — at a super-G in Bansko, Bulgaria, on Sunday.

She prevailed by .29 of a second over Italian Marta Bassino and .70 over Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami. Gut-Behrami, the last skier other than Shiffrin to win a World Cup overall title back in 2016, earned her first podium in exactly one year.

Full results are here.

“Perfect weekend for me,” said Shiffrin, who moved one shy of recently retired Austrian Marcel Hirscher for third place on the World Cup career wins list. “The whole team is excited about the whole weekend, but especially today.”

She is en route to a fourth straight World Cup overall title. And she is a combined victory away from wins in all five disciplines in one season. Only Marc GirardelliPetra KronbergerJanica Kostelic and Tina Maze have done it.

“The thing that I’m most proud of right now is that I know how to win in slalom, [giant slalom], super-G and downhill, which I never expected that would really happen,” she said.

Shiffrin struggled with confidence during a winless stretch in early January, trying not to compare herself to last season, when she won a record 17 times. She still leads the men’s and women’s tours with six victories this season, a little more than halfway through.

“Every race is such a big fight, and I haven’t been the one on top of this fight every time,” she said. “Certainly I’ve been like sometimes the expectations that I have or that other people might have, I’m not quite living up to that. Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like I’m failing sometimes, even though this is still just an incredible season.”

There are two combined races left this season for Shiffrin to achieve the dream — Feb. 23 in Switzerland and March 1 in Italy. While combined — mixing a speed run and a technical run — might seem perfect for Shiffrin, she has one victory in four starts in the discipline between the World Cup and Olympics.

And Shiffrin is careful about her race schedule. She is undecided on entering a downhill and super-G next weekend at the 2014 Olympic venue in Russia.

“After this weekend my brain is a little bit dead,” she joked.

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