Mikaela Shiffrin breaks 30-year World Cup single-season win record

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Taking a victory lap the only way she knows how, the U.S.’ Mikaela Shiffrin rewrote the World Cup record books with her 15th win of the season. In 53 World Cup seasons no man or woman has won more than 14 races. Until now.

Switzerland’s Vreni Schneider had held the record after winning 14 races of her own during the 1988-89 World Cup campaign.

The win is Shiffrin’s sixth World Cup slalom win of the season, further justifying her dominance in the discipline on tour which extends back to 2013.

Shiffrin had already clinched her third overall World Cup title, as well as her third-consecutive slalom crystal globe. Any World Cup points picked up in today’s race would only add to her stifling control of the leaderboard.

After the first run this morning through falling Czech snow, Shiffrin held the lead by just over three tenths, with Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener in second, and Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter in third, nearly a second and a half behind Shiffrin. Hansdotter recently announced her plans to retire from competition at the end of the season.

In the second run, Holdener came out attacking, skiing just ahead of Shiffrin. Holdener made it cleanly through the top section of the course which kept many of the top slalom skiers of the day off balance, including Hansdotter, who’s mistakes landed her off the podium in seventh. Holdener crossing the finish line with the lead by more than a second.

However, Shiffrin had the final say, and came out on top with a clean run more than eight tenths faster than Holdener. Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova finished in third, more than two seconds behind Shiffrin.  

Full results are here.

Prior to racing this week, Shiffrin had been holed up in Italy, training and resting ahead of the final two weeks of the season. She teased fans by posting a photo of herself holding up a pair of skis on Facebook with the caption “P.S. Yes, these are my super-G skis,” which all but confirms she will attempt to win the tightly contested super-G globe next week in Andorra. Shiffrin currently clings to a 32-point lead over Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein in the standings.

In addition to the super-G crystal globe, Shiffrin also has the opportunity to win the giant slalom season title.

Speaking after her third-place finish in this Friday’s giant slalom in Spindleruv Mlyn, Shiffrin explained, despite her 97-point cushion in the GS standings, she must stay focused if she expects hold off her Slovakian rival, Vlhova. Vlhova won on Friday, skiing six tenths faster than Shiffrin.

“I think there is still something possible at the finals so I won’t celebrate yet. But I am really happy to have this kind of advantage,” said Shiffrin according to the Associated Press. “Slalom, overall and GS are my biggest goals this year so it’s an incredible place to be right now.”

The World Cup men were racing in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia today where Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen got the win in giant slalom, his third win and sixth podium appearance in a GS race this season. Austria’s Marcel Hirscher finished off the podium in sixth. A win would have allowed Hirscher to clinch his eighth-consecutive World Cup overall title, but that will now have to wait at least a day.

Kristoffersen’s countryman Rasmus Windingstad landed on his first World Cup podium, finishing in second. Windingstad jumped up five spots to make the podium with his second run performance.

Full results are here.

Hirscher gets another chance at the overall title tomorrow as racing continues in Slovenia with the men’s slalom. The first run is scheduled to begin at 4:30 a.m. ET and the second at 7:30 a.m. ET. Watch the first run live on OlympicChannel.com or with an NBC Sports Gold Snow Pass. The second run will air live on Olympic Channel on TV and streaming with coverage also available on NBC Sports Gold.

Beginning on Wednesday, the 2018-19 World Cup season finale gets underway in Andorra with the men’s and women’s downhill.

To see Shiffrin attempt to win two more crystal globes this season, watch the women’s super-G on Thursday and Sunday’s giant slalom.

Check out the full schedule below for times, events and where to watch live on TV and streaming.

ALPINE SKIING WORLD CUP FINAL — Soldeu, Andorra

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Wednesday 5:30 a.m. Men’s & Women’s Downhill Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
12:30 p.m. Men’s & Women’s Downhill* NBCSN
Thursday 5:30 a.m. Men’s & Women’s Super-G Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
11:00 p.m. Men’s & Women’s Super-G* NBCSN
Friday 7:00 a.m. Team Event Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Saturday 4:30 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. Women’s Slalom (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
7:00 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
8:00 a.m. Women’s Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Sunday 4:30 a.m. Women’s Giant Slalom (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
7:00 a.m. Women’s Giant Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
8:00 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
3:30 p.m. Women’s Giant Slalom* NBCSN

 

Katie Ledecky wins race by 30 seconds, takes back No. 1 ranking

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In her last race of the year, Katie Ledecky ensured she would finish 2019 as the world’s fastest 1500m freestyler.

Ledecky clocked 15:35.98 at the U.S. Open in Atlanta, winning the longest event on the Olympic pool program by 29.97 seconds. Typical for Ledecky, who owns the nine fastest times in history. This one came in at No. 8. Full meet results are here.

Ledecky scratched the 1500m free final at the summer world championships due to illness. Italian Simona Quadarella went on to win that title in 15:40.89, which was the world’s fastest time this year until Saturday night.

“I didn’t have time on my mind at all today. I just wanted to have a consistent swim,” Ledecky, undefeated in 1500m free finals for nine years, said on NBCSN. “That’s probably the best mile that I’ve had in a while.”

The women’s 1500m freestyle debuts at the Olympics in Tokyo. Ledecky is expected to add that to her Rio Olympic individual lineup of 200m, 400m and 800m frees, assuming she is top two in each event at the June Olympic trials.

In other events Saturday, Erika Brown handed Simone Manuel a rare defeat in the 100m freestyle. Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, clocked 53.42 and lowered her personal best by .71 between prelims and the final. Brown moved from sixth to fourth in the U.S. rankings this year, upping her stock as a contender to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool via a top-six finish at trials.

Brown previously lowered her personal best in the 50m free on Thursday. She ranks third in the U.S. this year in that event.

Emily Escobedo dealt Lilly King a rare domestic defeat in the 200m breaststroke. Escobedo lowered her personal best by .87 and clocked 2:22.00, moving to seventh fastest in the world this year and remaining fourth among Americans.

In the men’s 200m breast, Olympic champion Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan was beaten by Cody Miller, the Olympic 100m breast silver medalist. Both were slower than their best times this year.

The next significant swim meet is a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., from Jan. 16-19.

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Mikaela Shiffrin runner-up in Lake Louise downhill

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LAKE LOUISE, Alberta (AP) — Here’s a scary thought for her competition: Mikaela Shiffrin is still getting comfortable with the intensity and the speed of the downhill.

That’s why podium finishes are still a little surprising even to her.

The American three-time overall World Cup champion finished runner-up to Nicole Schmidhofer of Austria in a downhill race Saturday. Schmidhofer cruised through the course in 1 minute, 49.92 seconds to edge Shiffrin by 0.13 seconds. Francesca Marsaglia of Italy wound up third.

Schmidhofer has four career World Cup wins, with three of them arriving at Lake Louise.

Known as a tech specialist, Shiffrin is steadily getting up to speed in the speed events. This was Shiffrin’s fourth career World Cup podium finish in the downhill, which includes a Lake Louise win in 2017.

So, does Shiffrin anticipate this kind of downhill success?

“No, no, no,” the 24-year-old from Colorado said. “It’s certainly not normal (for a downhill podium). Even racing downhill doesn’t feel normal. But I feel every year like I have more experience and get more comfortable.”

Shiffrin currently sits at 62 World Cup wins, which ties her with Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Proell for second-most on the women’s side. Lindsey Vonn had 82 wins before her retirement.

“I’m certainly more comfortable with the long skis,” Shiffrin said of downhill racing. “Right now, it’s enjoying it, because speed is a little bit extra for me. My goal is to be able to succeed in speed as well. It’s making the transition and trying to have fun with it.”

Czech Republic skier and snowboarder Ester Ledecka finished fourth Saturday. She was the surprise winner of Friday’s season-opening downhill, which was delayed and shortened by heavy snowfall on the mountain. The race Saturday was restored to its full length.

Next up, a super-G on Sunday.

“It’s always been a little bit tricky for me from downhill skis to super-G skis and to change the timing a little bit,” Shiffrin said. “I’m going to have fun.”

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