Mikaela Shiffrin
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Mikaela Shiffrin faces decision on rare World Cup weekend; TV, stream schedule

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There are 41 scheduled World Cup races this season. Mikaela Shiffrin has never started more than 30 events in one campaign. After skiing the first seven this fall, and more than doubling the next-best woman in World Cup points, it may soon come time for a rest.

Perhaps this weekend. Perhaps in Shiffrin’s best event, a slalom (albeit a parallel slalom, different than the traditional, Olympic format).

Shiffrin is scheduled to start the first of two World Cup events this weekend, a super-G in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Saturday (4:30 a.m. ET, Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and live streaming on NBC Sports Gold).

Later Saturday, a 30-minute special on Shiffrin’s historic 2018-19 season, titled “Mikaela’s Masterpiece,” will air on NBCSN at 2 p.m. ET. A trailer is here.

It’s TBD whether she will come back for Sunday’s parallel slalom (7:30 a.m., Olympic Channel and NBC Sports Gold). She will announce after Saturday’s race, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard. It’s rare to have a speed event (downhill or super-G) and a technical event (slalom or giant slalom) at the same World Cup stop.

Parallel events can be more demanding than the usual format where skiers take two runs and combine times. In parallel, a bracket-elimination format, Shiffrin took seven runs last year (each run about half the time as a typical slalom) en route to winning in St. Moritz.

Later in the season, and again before this season, Shiffrin mentioned back soreness that is common in ski racing.

“So it’s just a little bit like what’s my body going to allow me to do as well,” she said in Cotober. “I know I’m only 24, but at the same time I sort of feel like I’m already 24 [laughs], and I feel it.”

Shiffrin, while adding more and more downhills and super-Gs, has skipped just two technical races since bursting on the World Cup scene in 2012 at age 15. Those were in city events, also bracket formats.

She passed on one in Stockholm in 2016, when she was coming back from a two-month knee-injury absence and had no chance of winning the season title in slalom. She skipped Stockholm again in late January 2018, prioritizing preparing for the PyeongChang Olympics.

In other winter sports events this weekend, the men’s Alpine World Cup heads to Val d’Isere, France, for a Saturday slalom (7 a.m., Olympic Channel and NBC Sports Gold) and Sunday giant slalom (6:30 a.m., Olympic Channel and NBC Sports Gold). Last Sunday, Tommy Ford ended the U.S. men’s longest victory and podium droughts in two decades.

In hockey, the Olympic and world champion U.S. women face Canada in an exhibition in Hartford on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Freestyle skiers and snowboarders compete at the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colo., on Friday (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) and Saturday (2:30 p.m., NBCSN).

A full list of Olympic sports events airing this weekend can be found here.

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MORE: 2019-20 Alpine skiing season TV schedule

Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

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Conseslus Kipruto tests positive for coronavirus, canceling world-record bid

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Conseslus Kipruto, the Olympic and world 3000m steeplechase champion, tested positive for the coronavirus without symptoms, which will keep him from a world-record chase on Friday, according to his social media.

The Kenyan was to race in the first in-person Diamond League meet of the year in Monaco on Friday.

“Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities,” was posted. “Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League.

“I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well.”

Kipruto, 25, is the 14th-fastest steepler in history with a personal best of 8:00.12. The world record is 7:53.63, set by Kenyan-born Qatari Saif Saaeed Shaheen in 2004.

Last year, Kipruto won the world title by .01, extending a streak of a Kenyan or Kenyan-born man winning every Olympic or world title in the event since the 1988 Seoul Games. He was sidelined by a stress fracture in his left foot until opening his season extremely late on Aug. 24.

MORE: Trayvon Bromell’s road back through destruction, death

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Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities. Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League on August 14th. I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well. Wish to thank Monaco for all the work they have done and I wish them and my colleagues a wonderful competition. Athletics is back and I will be back as well. Anyone willing to organise a steeple once I can be cleared? @diamondleaguemonaco #nike #quarantine #WR #Kenya

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