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Mikaela Shiffrin to skip World Cup races this weekend

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Mikaela Shiffrin will not race on the World Cup this weekend, upon re-evaluating after a 17th-place finish in a Tuesday giant slalom.

Shiffrin announced Thursday that she will skip a Saturday downhill (4:15 a.m. ET, Olympic Channel) and Sunday combined (8 a.m., Olympic Channel) in Val d’Isere, France, a venue she had been planning to race for the first time in speed events.

“Wellllll I wanted to try for @valdisere. I was pretty excited, really-and it would have been the first time that I made that schedule work…but I have to get some work done now, so Merry Christmas and see you in Lienz [Dec. 28-29]!” was posted on her social media.

A day earlier, Shiffrin’s account posted, “As always my plan is day-by-day and [Tuesday] forced me to re-evaluate the coming weeks. Gonna take a little pause and skip tomorrow’s downhill training in Val d’isere and go from there.”

On Tuesday, Shiffrin was “visibly upset, speechless and a little stunned,” according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard, after her worst result since the PyeongChang Olympics and her worst for a tech race outside of DNFs in more than five years.

“I have a lot of thoughts, but I probably shouldn’t say any of them on camera,” she joked. “Look, it’s not really OK for me to expect something more from the day. I mean, I skied how I skied, and I placed how I placed. The girls who are ahead of me… skied harder. They skied better, cleaner.

“I don’t have any excuse, really. They did an amazing job preparing the surface. The slope was actually in an amazing condition, really. Both courses were really fun, awesome to ski, and my equipment has been really great in training and everything. There’s really nobody to blame but myself here.

“I’m for sure going to watch my video a lot more, but it is experience. It’s true. There’s always a lesson to learn. Right now it feels a lot like what I’m trying to do I’m not actually able to do, but it’s also not the end of the world.”

Shiffrin opened the season with four straight podiums, including two wins, and then made podiums in two out of four speed races. She then skipped a parallel slalom in Switzerland on Sunday — her third time skipping a tech race aside from injury since she burst on the scene in 2012 — to prepare for Tuesday’s GS and this weekend’s races in France.

Shiffrin, eyeing a fourth straight World Cup overall title, leads the season standings by a significant margin — 165 points — after 10 of 41 scheduled races.

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MORE: 2019-20 Alpine skiing season TV schedule

World short-track speedskating championships will be moved, postponed or canceled

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The International Skating Union announced Tuesday that the world short-track speedskating championships will not proceed as scheduled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Seoul’s Mokdong Ice Rink, where the competition was set to be held March 13-15, held the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships earlier this month but closed on Monday.

The ISU left open the possibility that the championships will be postponed or relocated, but the window to do so may close rapidly.

“Taking into account the uncertain world-wide development of the coronavirus, the limited and uncertain available time slots during the coming weeks and the logistical challenges of potential organizers and participating teams, a postponement and/or relocation of the Championships would be difficult to achieve,” the ISU said. “Nevertheless, a postponement and/or relocation of this Championships might be considered if the circumstances would allow so in due time.”

South Korea is one of short-track speedskating’s traditional powers. Last year, the country dominated the world championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, winning both relays and taking gold in all of the men’s individual races. South Korea also led the medal count on home ice in the 2018 Olympics.

The coronavirus outbreak has forced the cancellation of many events in China, where the illness was first found. The world indoor track and field championships were pushed back a whole year.

With the virus spreading to other regions, other countries’ sports schedules are being affected. Several soccer games are proceeding in empty stadiums in Italy and Iran.

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Daniel Romanchuk’s ascent to marathon stardom accelerated at University of Illinois

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The rise of Daniel Romanchuk has been one of the major stories of this Paralympic cycle. The wheelchair racer was eliminated in the first round of all five of his races in Rio.

But now, he’s the world’s best marathoner with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, a world-record holder on the track and already qualified for the Tokyo Games.

Romanchuk, born with spina bifida, was profiled by NBC Sports Chicago as part of a series of NBC Sports Regional Networks pieces published this week — marking 150 days until the Tokyo Olympics and six months until the Tokyo Paralympics.

NBC RSN Olympic and Paralympic Profiles
NBC Sports Bay Area

Abbey Weitzeil (Swimming) — LINK

NBC Sports Boston
Margaret Bertasi (Rowing) — LINK
Abbey D’Agostino Cooper (Track and Field) — LINK

NBC Sports Chicago
Ryan Murphy (Swimming) — LINK

NBC Sports Northwest
Galen Rupp (Marathon) — LINK
Mariel Zagunis (Fencing) — LINK

NBC Sports Philadelphia
Vashti Cunningham (Track and Field) — LINK
Julie Ertz (Soccer) — LINK

NBC Sports Washington
Katie Ledecky (Swimming) — LINK
Kyle Snyder (Wrestling) — LINK

Romanchuk, 21, swept the Boston, London, Chicago and New York City Marathon titles in 2019. He attributes that success to his native Baltimore and his training residence of the University of Illinois.

At age 2, he was enrolled in Baltimore’s Bennett Blazers, an adaptive sports program for children with physical disabilities. Tatyana McFadden, a 17-time Paralympic medalist who dominated women’s wheelchair marathons, planted her athletic roots there.

“Their motto is to teach kids they can before they’re told they can’t,” Romanchuk said.

Things really blossomed for Romanchuk after he moved from Baltimore to the University of Illinois. Illinois was designated a U.S. Paralympic training site in 2014 and has produced McFadden, Jean Driscoll and other U.S. Paralympic stars.

“Without this program, I certainly would not be where I am,” Romanchuk said. “It’s a very unique combination of coaching and teammates.”

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MORE: Ten Paralympic hopefuls to watch for 2020 Tokyo Games