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

 

Pole vaulter, 84, sets her sights on more records

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BURLINGTON, Vt. — An 84-year-old pole vaulter isn’t putting her pole down anytime soon.

Flo Filion Meiler left Thursday for the World Masters Athletics Championship Indoor in Poland, where she’ll compete in events including the long jump, 60-meter hurdles, 800-meter run, pentathlon and pole vault, for which she’s the shoo-in.

The petite, energetic woman from Shelburne, Vermont, said she feels more like 70 than nearly 85.

“But you know, I do train five days a week. And when I found out I was going to compete at the worlds, I’ve been training six days a week because I knew I would really get my body in shape,” she said last week, after track and field training at the University of Vermont.

But she literally won’t have any competition in the pole vault in the championships, which runs March 24-31 in Torun, Poland. She is the only one registered in her age group, 80-84, for the sport, for which she set a world record at age 80. In the men’s pole vault, nine men are listed as competing in that age group.

Meiler said she the events she likes the best are the hurdles and the pole vault – one of the more daring track and field events, in which competitors run while carrying a fiberglass or composite pole, brace it against the ground to launch themselves over a high bar, and land on a mat.

“You really have to work at that,” she said. “You have to have the upper core and you have to have timing, and I just love it because it’s challenging.”

Meiler is used to hard work. She grew up on a dairy farm, where she helped her father with the chores, feeding the cattle and raking hay. In school, she did well at basketball, took tap and ballroom dancing, and, living near Lake Champlain, she water skied.

Meiler, who worked for 30 years as a sales representative for Herbalife nutritional supplements, and her husband, Eugene, who was a military pilot and then became a financial analyst, together competed in water skiing.

“Many times when I did water ski competition I was the only gal in my age group,” she said.

She’s a relative newcomer to pole vaulting and track and field, overall. At age 60, she was competing in doubles tennis with her husband in a qualifying year at the Vermont Senior Games when a friend encouraged her to try the long jump because competitors were needed.

“That was the beginning of my track career,” she said, standing in a room of her home, surrounded by hundreds of hanging medals. She took up pole vaulting at 65.

Athletics has helped her though some hard times, she said. She and her husband adopted three children after losing two premature biological babies and a 3-year-old. Two years ago, their son died at age 51.

And she desperately misses her training partner, a woman who started having health problems about five years ago and can no longer train. It’s tough to train alone, she said, and she hopes to find a new partner.

“She’s incredibly serious about what she does,” said Meiler’s coach, Emmaline Berg. “She comes in early to make sure she’s warmed up enough. She goes home and stretches a lot. So she pretty much structures her entire life around being a fantastic athlete, which is remarkable at any age, let alone hers.”

And it has paid off, said Berg, an assistant track coach at Vermont.

Berg herself first started following Meiler 10 years ago while she was a student at New Hampshire’s Dartmouth College, watching her at the annual Dartmouth Relays.

“She was like a local celebrity,” she said.

Setting a record at age 80 with a 6-foot (1.8-meter) pole vault at the USA Track and Field Adirondack Championships in Albany, New York, while her husband watched, Meiler said, was one of her happiest days.

“I was screaming, I was so happy,” she said.

The overall world record for women’s pole vaulting is 16.6 feet (5.6 meters), according to the International Association of Athletics Federations.

Meiler turns 85 in June, when she’ll head to the National Senior Games in New Mexico.

That will put her in a new age group, in which she hopes to set even more records.

Meiler’s athletic achievements are remarkable and something to be celebrated, said Dr. Michael LaMantia, director of the University of Vermont Center on Aging.

Pole vaulting clearly isn’t for everyone of her age, but in general, activity should be, LaMantia said.

“She can serve as a role model for other seniors,” he said.

Amateur boxing president steps aside during IOC inquiry

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland — With Olympic boxing under investigation by the IOC, the president of the sport’s governing body said on Friday he was stepping aside to let an interim leader take charge.

Gafur Rakhimov sai d he was not resigning as AIBA president, however, and did not call for new elections.

Rakhimov’s status on a U.S. Treasury Department sanctions list as an alleged heroin trafficker is part of an inquiry by an International Olympic Committee-appointed panel.

The panel will update the IOC executive board next week in Lausanne, Switzerland. AIBA could be derecognized by IOC members in June.

The IOC halted planning for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic boxing tournaments and blocked AIBA officials from contacting organizers in Japan.

“The allegations against me were fabricated and based on politically motivated lies,” Rakhimov said. “I trust that the truth will prevail. Nevertheless, I have always said that I would never put myself above boxing, and as president, I have a duty to do everything in my power to serve our sport and our athletes.”

Under AIBA statutes, an interim president is picked from among the five vice-presidents, who include several Rakhimov supporters. The executive committee is due to meet by telephone this weekend. The interim leader can serve only a maximum 365 days before fresh elections, however, meaning that arrangement can’t last through to the Tokyo Olympics.

When Rakhimov was elected last year, his supporters pushed for a plan to allow the president to step aside while still retaining key influence and being able to return at any time, but that was defeated.

It’s not clear if Rakhimov’s departure would be enough to calm the IOC, which has also criticized AIBA over how fights are judged, anti-doping measures, and its debts.

The IOC could try to host an Olympic boxing tournament without AIBA, and some national boxing officials have tried to form a group which could help the IOC stage the event.