Shiffrin stands alone atop slalom podium, gets second win in Maribor

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The U.S.’ Mikaela Shiffrin and Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova were locked in an Alpine ski battle for the second time this weekend in Maribor. A day after the two friendly rivals happily shared first place in giant slalom, Shiffrin and Vlhova laid down thier opening runs in slalom, with Shiffrin holding an edge of a full second at the break.

Vlhova pushed Shiffrin in the second run of Friday’s GS, but could she do it again in slalom, an event Shiffrin has owned on the World Cup, winning more than half the races she’s entered — 37 wins in all.

The previous slalom held this season was won by Vlhova, who’s second run was fast enough to relegate Shiffrin to second, stopping Shiffrin one win short of tying the most-consecutive World Cup slalom win record of eight.  In the last 17 slalom races staged on the World Cup stretching back to March 2017, the top podium spot has either gone to Shiffrin (13 wins) or Vlhova (4 wins).

With race time air temperatures in the mid-50s, and a second run course set to help mitigate ruts in the soft surface around the gates, Vlhova dropped in just ahead of Shiffrin, while Sweden’s Anna Swenn Larsson sat at the bottom of the hill as the current leader.

Vlhova could not produce a second run like she had in Friday’s GS to contend for the win, crossing the finish with the fourth best combined time. It’s the first time this season Vlhova has not appeared on a World Cup slalom podium.

Shiffrin, with her biggest challenger out of the podium picture, started her event closing run by picking up time early and never relenting. Despite conditions being less than ideal, Shiffrin crossed the finish to win her third-consecutive slalom in Maribor. Swenn Larsson joined Shiffrin on the podium in second with Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener finishing third.    

Full results are here.

With two slalom events remaining on the World Cup calendar this season, Shiffrin can tie the all-time slalom win record for a man or woman, set by Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark.

The win is also Shiffrin’s 13th victory this season. The entirety of the women’s World Cup field has a combined win total of just 14.  

The women’s tour now turns its focus to the biggest event of the year, the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Are, Sweden. Shiffrin has said she plans to compete in Super-G, giant slalom and slalom and potentially the super combined. Racing kicks off with the women’s Super-G, where the U.S.’ Lindsey Vonn, who sent shockwaves through the Alpine world with her recent retirement announcement, is expected to compete. Vonn has also said she will race in the downhill.

This morning heavy snowfall in Garmisch-Partenkirchen forced the cancellation of the final men’s downhill before next week’s World Championships. The men’s giant slalom is still on the schedule for Sunday morning in GaPa, with the first run beginning at 4:30 a.m. ET and the second run at 7:30 a.m. ET. Watch the first run on OlympicChannel.com or with the NBC Sports Gold Snow Pass. Catch the second run live on TV or streaming with Olympic Channel or NBC Sports Gold.

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MORE: Lindsey Vonn to retire after World Championships

Eliud Kipchoge sets next marathon

Eliud Kipchoge
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Eliud Kipchoge will race the London Marathon on April 26 before he is expected to defend his Olympic title in Japan on Aug. 9, which would mark the shortest break between marathons of his career.

Kipchoge, who in his last 26.2-mile effort became the first person to break two hours at the distance, won all four of his London Marathon starts, including breaking the course record in 2016 and 2019.

His time this past April 28 — 2:02:37 — is the third-fastest time in history. Kipchoge has the world record of 2:01:39 set at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. His sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna on Oct. 12 was not in a record-eligible race.

Kipchoge’s previous shortest break between marathons came in 2016, when he also ran London and the Olympics. The Olympics will be two weeks earlier in 2020 than in 2016.

Kipchoge, 35, has won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team.

He has yet to race the two most prestigious marathons in the U.S. — Boston and New York City — but has said they are on his bucket list.

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Canadians become first female doubles luge team in World Cup

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WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless made luge history Saturday, becoming the first female team to compete in a World Cup doubles race.

The 16-year-olds from Whistler combined to finish 22nd in a field of 23 sleds, though that seemed largely irrelevant. There have been four-woman teams in what is typically called four-man bobsledding, but luge has never seen a pairing like this until now.

The German sled of Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken won the race in 1 minute, 16.644 seconds. Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt finished second and the Russian team of Vsevolod Kashkin and Konstantin Korshunov placed third for their first medal of the season.

The U.S. team of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman placed 11th.

But the story was the Canadian teens, who qualified for the World Cup event on Thursday. They were nearly a half-second behind any other finisher and almost 2.7 seconds back of Eggert and Benecken. But they’ll forever be able to say that they were winning the race at one point — a technicality because they were the first ones down the hill at the Whistler Sliding Center, but accurate nonetheless.

The only sled they beat was the Italian team of Ivan Nagler and Fabian Malleier, who crashed in the second heat.

There are women’s singles and men’s singles races on the World Cup luge circuit, but there is no rule saying doubles teams must be composed of two men. There have been more female doubles racers at the junior level in recent years, and it was generally considered to be just a matter of time before it happened at the World Cup level.

That time became Saturday.

Canada had the chance to qualify a second sled into the doubles field because some teams typically on the circuit chose to skip this weekend’s stop, and Nash and Corless got into by successfully finishing a Nations Cup qualifying race on Thursday.

They were 11th in that race out of 11 sleds, more than a full second behind the winner and nearly a half-second behind the closest finisher. But all they had to do was cross the line without crashing to get into Saturday’s competition, and earned their spot in the luge history books as a result.

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