Mikaela Shiffrin, Petra Vlhova share win in Maribor giant slalom

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The U.S.’ Mikaela Shiffrin returned to World Cup racing after a short recharging hiatus looking to win her third giant slalom of the season and extend her lead in the FIS GS point standings. Adding a giant slalom crystal globe win to her prolific list of accolades has been a goal for Shiffrin since the beginning of the season.

Shiffrin led the field by just under a half second after run #1 was complete. Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova was positioned behind Shiffrin in second, with the reigning GS world champion, France’s Tessa Worley in third.

Vlhova, who entered the day fifth on the list of GS points, displayed the improvements she has made in her skiing this season. In her second run in Maribor, Vlhova burst through the finish to take the lead by .93 hundredths of a second. Before Vlhova, Worley’s day was ruined when her skis caught a rut on course, significantly slowing the French skier on her way to the finish.

With Worley unable to make the podium, and Vlhova well behind Shiffrin in the GS point standings, Shiffrin had the option to back off a touch, and still earn enough points from the race to retain her lead for the crystal globe.

Shiffrin appeared to do just that, at least in the section of the course which took Worley out of contention, but upon nearing the finish, Shiffrin began to make a charge. But instead of winning outright, Shiffrin crossed the finish, dead even with Vlhova with a combined two-run time of 2 minutes 31.31 seconds.

“It was a fight in the second [run],” Shiffrin said after the race. “I almost lost it at the bottom. It’s always nice when you kind of have this luck.

“I saw Petra from the start and I was like, “Okay, I better up the ante a little bit.””

Full results are here.

Joining Shiffrin and Vlhova on the podium was Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel in third. Worley finished the day in ninth, making Shiffrin’s quest for her first GS crystal globe one that is hers to either win or lose. There now remains just two GS events on the 2018-19 World Cup calendar.

The women are back on the Slovenian snow tomorrow to race slalom. Stream the first run live on OlympicChannel.com or with your NBC Sports Gold Snow Pass starting at 4:00 a.m. ET, and catch the second and deciding run at 7:00 a.m. ET on TV or streaming with Olympic Channel or NBC Sports Gold.

The men’s World Cup tour starts their weekend in Garmisch-Partenkirchen with the downhill on Saturday morning beginning at 5:30 a.m. ET. Catch the race live on  Olympic Channel on TV, or stream it live on all devices using an NBC Sports Gold Snow Pass.

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MORE: Mikaela Shiffrin highlights Olympic sports action this week

Jim Redmond, who helped son Derek finish 1992 Olympic race, dies

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Jim Redmond, who helped his injured son, Derek, finish his 1992 Olympic 400m semifinal, died at age 81 on Sunday, according to the British Olympic Association, citing family members.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Derek pulled his right hamstring 15 seconds into his 400m semifinal, falling to the track in anguish.

He brushed off help from officials, got up and began limping around the track. About 120 meters from the finish line, he felt the presence of an uncredentialed man who rushed down the stadium stairs, dodged officials and reportedly said, “We started this together, and we’re going to finish this together.”

“As I turned into the home straight, I could sense this person was about to try and stop me,” Derek said in an NBC Olympics profile interview before the 2012 London Games. “I was just about to get ready to sort of fend them off, and then I heard a familiar voice of my dad. He said, ‘Derek, it’s me. You don’t need to do this.'”

Derek said he shouted to his dad that he wanted to finish the race.

“He was sort of saying things like, ‘You’ve got nothing to prove. You’re a champion. You’ll come back. You’re one of the best guys in the world. You’re a true champion. You’ve got heart. You’re going to get over this. We’ll conquer the world together,'” Derek remembered. “I’m just sort of saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.'”

At one point, Derek noticed stadium security, not knowing who Jim was, having removed guns from their holsters.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever heard my dad use bad language,” Derek said. “He just goes, ‘Leave him alone, I’m his father.'”

Derek told himself in that moment, “I’m going to finish this race if it’s the last race I ever run.” It turned out to be the last 400m race of his career, after surgery and 18 months of rehab were not enough to yield a competitive comeback, according to Sports Illustrated.

Derek had missed the 1988 Seoul Games after tearing an Achilles, reportedly while warming up for his opening race. He looked strong in Barcelona, winning his first-round heat and quarterfinal.

“I’d rather be seen to be coming last in the semifinal than not finish in the semifinal,” he said, “because at least I can say I gave it my best.”

Asher Hong leads U.S. men’s gymnastics world team selection camp after first day

Asher Hong
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Asher Hong, 18, posted the highest all-around score on the first of two days of competition at the U.S. men’s gymnastics selection camp to determine the last three spots on the team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Hong, bidding to become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009, totaled 84.6 points in Colorado Springs. He edged Colt Walker by one tenth. Tokyo Olympians Shane Wiskus (84.15) and Yul Moldauer (83.95) were next. Full apparatus-by-apparatus scores are here.

Brody Malone, who repeated as U.S. all-around champion at August’s national championships, and runner-up Donnell Whittenburg already clinched spots on the five-man team for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. They did not compete Monday, though their results from the first day of nationals are shown in the official scores.

The three remaining team spots will not necessarily go to the top three all-arounders at this week’s camp, which is supposed to be weighed equally with results from August’s nationals. Hong was third at nationals, but if excluding difficulty bonus points from that meet that will not be considered by the committee, would have finished behind Walker and Moldauer in August.

A selection committee is expected to announce the team soon after the second and final day of selection camp competition on Wednesday evening. The committee will look at overall scoring potential for the world team final, where three men go per apparatus, and medal potential in individual events.

Stephen Nedoroscik, who last year became the first American to win a world title on the pommel horse, is trying to make the team solely on that apparatus. He wasn’t at his best at nationals and struggled again on Monday, hurting his chances of displacing an all-arounder for one of the last three spots.

The U.S. has reason to emphasize the team event over individual medals at this year’s worlds. It will clinch an Olympic berth by finishing in the top three, and its medal hopes are boosted by the absence of the Russians who won the Olympic team title. All gymnasts from Belarus and Russia are banned indefinitely from international competition due to the war in Ukraine.

In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

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