Kaillie Humphries kicks off U.S. bobsled career, easily clinches World Cup spot

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Two-time Olympic bobsled gold medalist Kaillie Humphries, who switched her allegiance from Canada to the United States in September, finished second and first in two North American Cup races this week to clinch her spot on the U.S. team’s roster for the upcoming World Cup season.

The North American Cup races at Lake Placid, N.Y., doubled as U.S. team trials after track issues forced the cancellation of trials last week at Utah Olympic Park. Brittany Reinbolt and Lauren Gibbs had already clinched their spots on the six-woman team by winning the U.S. championship in March.

On Tuesday, Humphries and Gibbs finished second in Humphries’ first competition since the 2018 Olympics, where she won bronze. She had a bumpy entrance to the sled in her first run and trailed former Canadian teammate Christine de Bruin by 0.32 seconds, then was unable to make up the margin despite having the fastest time in the second run.

On Wednesday, Humphries and Sylvia Hoffman had the fastest start and fastest time in each run, easily outrunning de Bruin by a combined 0.54 seconds.

Reinbolt and Gibbs were fourth on Tuesday and third on Wednesday, just ahead of fellow Americans Kristi Joplin and Jasmine Jones in each race.

In the men’s competition, which had only three pilots in action, U.S. champion Codie Bascue and Josh Williamson won the first two-man bobsled race on Monday, finishing ahead of Canadian gold medalist Justin Kripps. Bascue injured his hamstring in the second two-man race and didn’t compete in the four-man races.

Hunter Church and Blaine McConnell took third in one of the two-man races. Church then took second and third in the four-man races.

Skeleton athletes already had their trials but also competed in the North American Cup, where four-time Olympian and 2012 world champion Katie Uhlaender rebounded from narrowly missing the World Cup squad to win her first two international races since the 2018 Olympics.

The U.S. teams for the World Cups:

WOMEN 

Pilots: Reinbolt (USA 1), Humphries (USA 2), Joplin (USA 3)

Push athletes: Gibbs, Hoffman, Jones

MEN

Pilots: Bascue (USA 1), Church (USA 2), Geoff Gadbois (USA 3)

Push athletes: Williamson, McConnell, Adrian Adams, Chris Avery, Michael Fogt, Kris Horn, Dakota Lynch, Jimmy Reed, Kyle Wilcox

The World Cup series begins Dec. 7-8 in Lake Placid.

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Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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