Dominik Paris takes Alpine World Cup downhill win record in Bormio

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Italian skier Dominik Paris etched his name on one of the prime ski locations in his home country, becoming the winningest downhill racer in World Cup events in Bormio.

Paris won for the fourth time Friday, breaking a tie for wins on the Bormio slope with retired Austrian skier Michael Walchhofer. The 30-year-old skier also moved into second place in the overall World Cup standings and in the downhill standings. His best World Cup season was last year, when he was fourth overall, first in the super-G and second in the downhill.

Two-time defending World Cup downhill champion Beat Feuz maintained his lead in the World Cup downhill standings with a second-place finish. Austria’s Matthias Mayer rounded out the podium to move up to fourth overall. Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde placed fourth and is only five points behind Paris in the overall standings.

Travis Ganong was the top American, taking eighth place for his third top-10 run of the season. Ryan Cochran-Siegle continued his breakthrough year with an 11th-place finish, putting him 18th in the overall standings after never finishing higher than 53rd in past years.

Ganong crashed in Bormio two years ago, ruining his chances of racing in the 2018 Olympics.

“It’s really nice to finally have another good result here in Bormio,” Ganong said in a U.S. Ski & Snowboard release. “This is where I had my first top 10, but also two years ago I blew out my knee, and last year it was really bad luck with my ski popping off and I tore my LCL. It was just a grade two tear, so I was able to come back, but I hadn’t had a finish here in two years.”

The speed specialists will have a chance to surge past overall leader Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway with a second downhill scheduled for Saturday in Bormio. The weekend wraps with a combined event Sunday.

Saturday’s race was on the original World Cup season schedule. Friday’s race was a makeup race, rescheduled after bad weather canceled a race in Val Gardena, Italy.

Mikaela Shiffrin will try to rebound from a shocking giant slalom performance when women’s World Cup racing resumes Friday in Lienz, Austria. Shiffrin lost the World Cup lead in giant slalom with a 17th-place finish Dec. 17 in Couchevel, France. She still has a substantial lead in her quest for a fourth consecutive World Cup overall title with 546 points. Italy’s Federica Brignone, who took the giant slalom lead from Shiffrin, is second with 381 points.

The women also have a slalom scheduled on Sunday. Shiffrin has won 12 of her last 13 World Cup slalom races and has finished no lower than second since failing to finish in January 2018.

NBC Sports Gold will have all of the races live this weekend, with the women’s giant slalom runs scheduled for 4:15 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday. The men’s downhill race will also be on the Olympic Channel at 5:30 a.m. ET.

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Shelby Houlihan shatters American 5000m record

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Shelby Houlihan chopped 10.52 seconds off her own American 5000m record, clocking 14:23.92 at a Bowerman Track Club intrasquad meet in Portland, Ore., on Friday night.

Houlihan, who was 11th in the Rio Olympic 5000m, has in this Olympic cycle improved to become one of the greatest female distance runners in U.S. history.

She first broke Shannon Rowbury‘s American record in the 5000m by 4.47 seconds in 2018. In 2019, she broke Rowbury’s American record in the 1500m by 1.3 seconds in finishing fourth at the world championships in 3:54.99.

On Friday, Houlihan and second-place Karissa Schweizer both went under the American record. Schweizer, 24 and three years younger than Houlihan, clocked 14:26.34, staying with Houlihan until the winner’s 61-second final lap.

“I knew Karissa was going to try to come up on me and take the lead. She does that every time,” Houlihan told USATF.tv. “I had decided I was not going to let that happen.”

Houlihan improved from 41st to 12th on the world’s all-time 5000m list, 12.77 seconds behind Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba‘s world record.

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Can T.J. Oshie, other established Olympic hockey stars hold on for 2022?

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T.J. Oshie will be 35 years old during the next Winter Olympics. Jonathan Quick will be 36. Now that the NHL is one key step closer to returning to the Winter Games, the question surfaces: which 2014 Olympians will have a difficult time returning to rosters in 2022?

Oshie was the last of the 14 forwards chosen for the U.S. Olympic team for Sochi, beating out Bobby Ryan and Brandon Saad, in part for his shootout prowess.

In group play against Russia, Oshie was memorably tapped by U.S. head coach Dan Bylsma six times in a shootout, including all five in the sudden-death rounds. Oshie beat Sergei Bobrovsky four times, including the game winner.

“After I went out for my third attempt, I figured I was going to keep going,” Oshie said, according to USA Hockey. “Each time I would look up to see what [Bylsma] had to say, and he would just give me a nod every time. I kind of started laughing toward shot five and six because it was getting kind of ridiculous.”

Oshie became known as “T.J. Sochi” on social media. President Barack Obama congratulated him on Twitter. The U.S. eventually lost to Canada in the semifinals and Finland in the bronze-medal game.

When the NHL chose not to send its players to the PyeongChang Winter Games, it may have spelled the end of Oshie’s Olympic career.

Consider that the oldest forward on the 2014 U.S. Olympic team was 29, six years younger than Oshie will be come 2022. A recent Olympic roster prediction from The Hockey Writers put Oshie in the “Just Missed Out” list.

NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire has Oshie among the finalists for the last forward spots in his early U.S. roster prediction.

“I wouldn’t discount T.J. Oshie because shootout is still part of it,” McGuire said. “He still has his shootout moves, even though he’s not getting any younger.”

Quick, the unused third goalie in 2010, played 305 out of 365 minutes in net for the U.S. in Sochi. He was coming off a Stanley Cup in 2012 and en route to another one in 2014.

Since, he was sidelined by a knee injury that required surgery. He remains the Los Angeles Kings’ No. 1 goalie, which almost automatically puts an American in the Olympic roster discussion these days.

“Somebody like Jonathan definitely merits consideration just because of his achievement level over time, but I think he’d be the first person to tell you injuries have definitely affected him,” McGuire said of Quick, looking to become the second-oldest U.S. goalie to play in the Olympics after Tom Barrasso in 2002. “It’s not going to be easy for him.”

The U.S. could bypass Quick for three Olympic rookies in 2022. Connor Hellebuyck, John Gibson and Ben Bishop have superior save percentages and goals-against averages and more games played than Quick since the start of the 2018-19 season.

A wild card is Spencer Knight, the 19-year-old No. 1 from the world junior championships who last year became the highest-drafted goalie since 2010 (No. 13 to the Florida Panthers). Knight would break defenseman Bryan Berard‘s record as the youngest U.S. Olympic hockey player in the NHL era.

The Canadian roster has traditionally been deeper than the U.S. The talent is overwhelming at center, led by Sidney CrosbyConnor McDavidPatrice Bergeron and Nathan MacKinnon. The Canadians must get creative if the likes of veterans Jonathan Toews and John Tavares will join them in Beijing.

Toews, then 21, was the best forward at the 2010 Vancouver Games and Canada’s only one on the all-tournament team. While Toews’ last NHL All-Star selection was in 2017, his last two seasons have been his best in terms of points per game since 2011.

“The one thing that Canada is very good at, they do it extremely well, they select players that fit roles,” McGuire said, noting Mike Richards shifting to the wing during the 2010 Olympics. “When you look at the overwhelming depth that Canada has, that’s going to be the thing that’s going that’s going to be very interesting to watch to see how it plays out at center.”

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