Shiffrin wins giant slalom race to seal World Cup title

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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.

Federica Brignone passes Mikaela Shiffrin for World Cup overall lead

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Italian Federica Brignone passed an absent Mikaela Shiffrin for the World Cup overall standings lead by winning a combined in Switzerland on Sunday.

Brignone prevailed by .92 of a second adding times from super-G and slalom runs in Crans-Montana. Full results are here.

Brignone moved 73 points ahead of Shiffrin in the overall through 29 of 40 scheduled races. A race winner receives 100 points on a descending scale through the 30th-place finisher. The season runs through March 22.

Shiffrin, the three-time reigning World Cup overall champion, has not competed since the unexpected death of her father on Feb. 2. She has not announced if or when she will return this season.

Brignone, 29, is having a career season with five wins and 10 podiums across four disciplines.

Brignone’s best previous World Cup overall standings finish was fifth. She earned giant slalom medals at the 2018 Olympics (bronze) and 2011 World Championships (silver).

She could become Italy’s first female World Cup overall champion. The last Italian male winner was Alberto Tomba in 1995.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves to La Thuile, Italy, for a super-G and a combined next Saturday and Sunday.

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Jade Carey on brink of becoming first gymnast to qualify for U.S. Olympic team

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The U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials aren’t until late June, but Jade Carey is in position to qualify for the Tokyo Games in March.

Carey, seeking an individual Olympic gymnastics spot outside of the team competition, earned the maximum points in a World Cup series that is one path to Olympic qualification.

Carey has three wins each on floor exercise and vault with two World Cups left in March. Carey will mathematically clinch an Olympic spot if no other gymnasts earn maximum points on one of the apparatuses to force a tiebreaker.

A gymnast’s top three finishes across the eight-stop series count in Olympic qualifying. If Carey finishes atop the floor or vault standings, she goes to the Olympics.

Carey picked up those third wins on floor and vault at the sixth World Cup in Melbourne, Australia, this weekend.

So far, no other gymnast has two wins on floor. One other gymnast can get to the maximum points on vault with one win between the last two stops (and others with two).

The one downside to qualifying this route: Carey would not be able to compete in the team competition at the Olympics. Those four spots will be determined at and after June’s trials in St. Louis, with Simone Biles likely grabbing one of them.

“I knew I would be giving up being on the team,” Carey said in October of going the World Cup route, “but I think, for me, it made sense to just go for it.”

Carey is a world medalist on vault and floor, but she doesn’t have the all-around credentials of Biles and some other U.S. gymnasts.

Olympic team event roster sizes were cut from five to four for Tokyo, putting a greater onus on all-around prowess given a team must put three gymnasts on each apparatus in the Olympic final.

The U.S. is the deepest country in women’s gymnastics, so the only truly safe pick to make the four-woman Olympic team event roster is Biles.

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