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Stuhec flies to Shiffrin’s rescue with lift offer to Sweden

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World Cup slalom in Slovenia on Saturday. World championship downhill training in Sweden on Monday.

Facing the challenge of traveling 1,900 kilometers (1,180 miles) from Maribor to Are as quickly as possible, Mikaela Shiffrin has gladly accepted a helping hand from Slovenian skier Ilka Stuhec.

Backed by various sponsors, Stuhec chartered a private plane, which was set to leave for a direct flight from the local airport in the Slovenian city after Saturday’s race, significantly reducing the inconvenience of a regular journey between the two ski resorts with various stopovers.

Stuhec was taking fellow ski racers Shiffrin, Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener and Italy’s Federica Brignone with her on the plane.

“We’re sharing this plane, a few of the athletes,” Shiffrin said. “We get a very easy travel to up north and that’s going to make a very big difference in preparing for (the first race) Tuesday.”

Shiffrin’s head coach, Mike Day, was also pleased with “the immediate travel.”

“We’ll get up there as quickly as we can and get settled and start to figure out exactly how we want to execute the two weeks up there,” Day told The Associated Press.

Apart from the GS and slalom in the second week of the championships, Shiffrin was planning a start in the super-G on Tuesday and probably the Alpine combined three days later.

She would need at least one training run on the downhill course to be allowed a start in the combined event, consisting of a downhill and a slalom leg.

“Just like any speed race that we decide on during the season, it comes down to mental fatigue and physical fatigue,” Day said about Shiffrin’s schedule at the worlds. “We don’t want to over-extend her and be in a bad position for the technical races, so we will be careful during the first week to make sure she is prepared for week No. 2.”

Shiffrin is a three-time world champion in slalom, and added silver in GS two years ago.

Brigid Kosgei beaten as another world record smashed in Nike shoes

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Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh broke the half marathon world record by 20 seconds, beating new marathon world-record holder Brigid Kosgei in the United Arab Emirates on Friday.

Nike-sponsored runners lowered the men’s and women’s marathon and half marathon records since September 2018, each appearing to race in versions of the apparel giant’s scrutinized Vaporfly shoes.

Yeshaneh, a 28-year-old who finished 14th in the 2016 Olympic 5000m, clocked 1:04:31 for 13.1 miles to better Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei‘s world record from 2017.

Kosgei, a 26-year-old Kenyan, also came in under the old world record but 18 seconds behind Yeshaneh.

Kosgei took 81 seconds off Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record on Oct. 13, clocking 2:14:04 to win the Chicago Marathon.

Nike Vaporfly shoes, including the prototypes worn by Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge when he ran a sub-two-hour marathon, were deemed legal by World Athletics’ new shoe regulations last month, according to Nike.

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Olympic, world champion lugers pull out of World Cup event over safety

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U.S. Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer and other top lugers are skipping this weekend’s World Cup stop in Winterberg, Germany, citing unsafe track conditions and a growing frustration with the international federation over athlete concerns.

“This was brought to the attention of the FIL [International Luge Federation] and yet again we were told that everything is ok,” was posted on Mazdzer’s Instagram. “I realize that a boycott is a lose-lose situation and there are no winners. But I have no other option at this point. I feel personally that this track is not safe for doubles sleds or for athletes who do not have adequate numbers of runs.”

Mazdzer said by phone Friday that he noticed significant bumps on the track in his first training run earlier this week.

“I couldn’t drive because I’m being thrown everywhere,” he said. “When you’re going 130 kilometers an hour [80 miles per hour], you don’t really want the track to be bad.”

An FIL spokesperson said Friday that Mazdzer’s choice was “his individual decision” and declined further comment ahead of races scheduled Saturday and Sunday. Mazdzer said that he was told the race starts will be moved down.

USA Luge said in a Friday statement that it will not participate in the World Cup and would communicate its concern for athlete safety to the FIL.

Two-time U.S. Olympian Summer Britcher said she was boycotting via Instagram, calling it “a farce of a World Cup.” Top lugers said athletes suffered serious injuries in training runs.

“I love this sport, but after too many decisions too many times that disregard 1-the safety of the athletes, and 2- the integrity and fairness of our sport, I have grown a great disdain for the International Luge Federation, and those who make these decisions,” was posted on Britcher’s account. “I will not race this weekend. I do not believe the track is safe, I do not believe it has been prepared to a World Cup standard, and I do not believe that the International Federation and Winterberg World Cup organisers should get away from this with no consequences.”

Britcher’s post noted that her team notified coaches and the technical director that the track was unsafe after her first training run Wednesday.

“Our concerns, and the concerns of the rest of the athletes from other nations throughout the day were not taken seriously,” Britcher posted.

Britcher said that several coaches attempted to fix the track for several hours on Thursday after athletes refused to train.

Olympic champion David Gleirscher of Austria and World Cup standings leader Roman Repilov of Russia and the top doubles teams of Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken and Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt of Germany also posted on Instagram that they’re skipping the Winterberg World Cup, the penultimate stop of the season, for safety reasons.

Mazdzer estimated a 20 percent crash rate in training, but that the track condition has improved since Wednesday. He still plans to race next week at the last World Cup in Königssee.

“There’s a lot of problems with Winterberg,” he said after detailing the situation between athletes and the FIL, “and it’s not just the track.”

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