Shiffrin wins giant slalom race to seal World Cup title

1 Comment

SOLDEU, Andorra — Another race won, another crystal trophy earned, another World Cup record written by Mikaela Shiffrin.

Shiffrin won a giant slalom Sunday to seal the season-long standings title and, while shedding a few tears in the finish area, lifted a record-tying fourth World Cup crystal globe in the same season.

“I wanted to come out here today and really earn it. Really earn it and deserve it,” said Shiffrin, whose 17th World Cup win this season extended her own record.

A fourth discipline title in one season matched the women’s World Cup record jointly held by Lindsey Vonn (2010, 2012) and Tina Maze (2013).

Shiffrin needed only a top-15 finish to ensure closest challenger Petra Vlhova could not overhaul the American star’s points total.

Instead, the Olympic giant slalom champion retained her first-run lead in style to finish 0.30 seconds ahead of 17-year-old Alice Robinson. Vlhova was third, 0.41 back.

While Shiffrin is the undisputed current star of women’s Alpine skiing, a bright future was seen Sunday for Robinson. She earned her World Cup finals entry by winning the giant slalom at the junior world championships last month.

The New Zealand prospect got her first career podium when just six months older than Shiffrin was getting her first top-3 finish, in a December 2011 slalom.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Robinson told Swiss broadcaster RTS. “It’s crazy, so cool to share the first podium with Petra and Mikaela. They’re such great skiers.”

Shiffrin’s four crystal globes tops the three earned by the men’s standout Marcel Hirscher.

Hirscher already clinched the slalom titles, and a record-extending eighth straight overall title, before the final race Sunday.

Seeming fatigued by a long season, Hirscher was sixth-fastest in the first run, trailing 1.43 behind Clement Noel in what could be his last World Cup race.

The 30-year-old Hirscher said Saturday after placing sixth in giant slalom that he could spend next season with his young family “cooking and holding the baby.”

“I’m thinking about this every day,” Hirscher said of possibly retiring, acknowledging he has a “very hard decision” in the next two weeks.

Noel took a clear lead with only the tall Swiss teammates Ramon Zenhaeusern and Daniel Yule within a second of his time on another sun-soaked day in Andorra.

The 2-meter (6-feet-6) Zenhaeusern was 0.84 back, and the 1.87-meter (6-feet-2) Yule had 0.95 to make up in the afternoon second run.

Yule has pledged half his prize money Sunday to a non-profit agency campaigning against climate change, and was on track to earn 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,000) for third place.

Beach volleyball player’s dog becomes social media sensation

Mathias Berntsen
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Norwegian beach volleyball player Mathias Berntsen‘s dog, Kiara, captivated social media this weekend.

A video of Kiara peppering with Berntsen and a pair across the net on a grass field spread from Berntsen’s Instagram across platforms. Kiara now has 12,000 Instagram followers, more than twice the total of Berntsen.

Berntsen, 24, is one half of Norway’s second-best beach volleyball team.

He and partner Hendrik Mol are ranked 45th in the world and well outside the Tokyo Olympic picture (24 teams go to the Games), but could get in the mix depending on how qualification is amended once sports resume.

Berntsen and his cousin Mol are part of a group called the Beach Volley Vikings. Mol’s younger brother, Anders, and family friend Christian Sorum are the world’s top-ranked team (profiled here).

MORE: Beach volleyball players fly to Australia, learn event is canceled

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

FIFA rules on Olympic men’s soccer tournament age eligibility

Gabriel Jesus
Getty Images
Leave a comment

For the first time since 1988, some 24-year-olds will be eligible for the Olympic men’s soccer tournament without using an over-age exception.

FIFA announced Friday that it will use the same age eligibility criteria for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 that it intended to use in 2020 — that players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997 are eligible, plus three over-age exceptions. FIFA chose not to move the birthdate deadline back a year after the Olympics were postponed by one year.

Olympic men’s soccer tournaments have been U-23 events — save those exceptions — since the 1992 Barcelona Games. In 1984 and 1988, restrictions kept European and South American players with World Cup experience ineligible. Before that, professionals weren’t allowed at all.

Fourteen of the 16 men’s soccer teams already qualified for the Games using players from under-23 national teams. The last two spots are to be filled by CONCACAF nations, potentially the U.S. qualifying a men’s team for the first time since 2008.

The U.S.’ biggest star, Christian Pulisic, and French superstar Kylian Mbappe were both born in 1998 and thus would have been under the age limit even if FIFA moved the deadline to Jan. 1, 1998.

Perhaps the most high-profile player affected by FIFA’s decision is Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus. The Manchester City star was born April 3, 1997, and thus would have become an over-age exception if FIFA pushed the birthdate rule back a year.

Instead, Brazil could name him to the Olympic team and still keep all of its over-age exceptions.

However, players need permission from their professional club teams to play in the Olympics, often limiting the availability of stars.

MORE: Noah Lyles details training near woods, dog walkers

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!