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

Tahiti chosen for Olympic surfing competition at 2024 Paris Games

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Paris 2024 Olympic organizers want the surfing competition to be held in Tahiti, an island in French Polynesia that is about 9,800 miles from Paris.

It would break the record for the farthest Olympic medal competition to be held outside the host. In 1956, equestrian events were moved out of Melbourne due to quarantine laws and held five months earlier in Stockholm, some 9,700 miles away.

The Paris 2024 executive board approved the site Thursday — specifically, the village of Teahupo’o — and will propose it to the IOC. It beat out other applicants Biarritz, Lacanau, Les Landes and La Torche, all part of mainland France.

Surfing will debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games but is not on the permanent Olympic program. Surfing was among sports added to the Paris 2024 program in June and could be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics

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Adam Jones, five-time MLB All-Star, becomes Olympic eligible

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Should the U.S. qualify for baseball’s Olympic return, a five-time MLB All-Star could be eligible for its roster in Tokyo. And he has interest.

Outfielder Adam Jones signed with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s domestic league, which, unlike MLB, will take an Olympic break next summer to allow players to take part in the first Olympic baseball tournament in 12 years.

Jones, 34, made no mention of Olympic eligibility in a social media post announcing the signing. His Instagram avatar is a photo of him in a Team USA jersey from the World Baseball Classic.

Jones’ agent later said that Jones does have interest in playing for the U.S. in Tokyo, should an American team qualify in the spring.

“To play over in Japan has always been a desire of Adam’s, and the timing worked out that the Olympics happens to be played in Tokyo the first year of his contract,” Jones’ agent wrote in an email. “It wasn’t one of the factors on his decision BUT more of a [sic] addition to the overall package to decide to go.”

Jones called being part of the U.S.’ 2017 WBC title, “probably the best experience of my life so far, especially with sports,” according to The Associated Press. He was one of five players to be on the U.S. team at each of the last two World Baseball Classics.

The U.S. still faces a difficult task to qualify for the Tokyo Games. It lost to Mexico last month in its first of up to three chances at qualifying tournaments, using a roster of mostly double-A and triple-A caliber players.

Major Leaguers are not expected to be made available for qualifying or for the Tokyo Games.

The next two qualifying tournaments will be in late March (an Americas qualifier in Arizona) and early April (a final, global qualifying event in Chinese Taipei). It remains to be seen how MLB clubs will go about releasing minor leaguers for a tournament that will take place during spring training.

Jones could become the third player with prior MLB All-Star experience to compete at the Olympics from any nation, joining Australian catcher Dave Nilsson and Canadian pitcher Jason Dickson.

Jones made five All-Star teams during an 11-year stint with the Baltimore Orioles from 2008-18 before playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.

Many players competed at the Olympics before making an MLB All-Star team, including Stephen Strasburg and Jason Giambi.

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