Mikaela Shiffrin, after ‘soul-healing’ break, moves to solo No. 2 on women’s wins list


Mikaela Shiffrin earned her 63rd World Cup win on Saturday, moving to solo No. 2 on the women’s all-time list behind Lindsey Vonn (82) and ending her longest victory drought since the PyeongChang Olympics.

Shiffrin prevailed in a giant slalom in Lienz, Austria, by 1.36 seconds over Italian Marta Bassino. Austrian Katharina Liensberger was third. Full results are here.

Shiffrin led by .61 after the opening run, but that lead was down to .33 late in her second run before she gained 1.03 seconds on Bassino in a 14-second stretch.

“I knew it was dark, and I knew it was bumpy,” she said. “I was like, OK, today you’re going to push and see what happens.”

Shiffrin nearly arrived too late for the start of the opening run. Having misread the local start time of 10:15 a.m., she was preparing for a 10:30 start. Shiffrin had to interrupt her usual warm-up routine to make it to the gate in time.

Shiffrin had not won her previous five races — though four of those were speed events where she is not dominant — while she did make two podiums. But if ever there was concern, it came with her most recent start before Lienz, 11 days ago.

She finished 17th in a GS in Courchevel, France, her worst result since PyeongChang and her worst for a tech race outside of DNFs in more than five years.

A day later, Shiffrin tweeted that “forced me to re-evaluate the coming weeks.” She later withdrew from last weekend’s downhill and combined races in Val d’Isere, which ended up being canceled anyway due to heavy snow.

“We skipped Val d’Isere because I felt like I wasn’t doing my job,” Shiffrin said.

She stayed in Europe around Christmas, training slalom and giant slalom in Courchevel and Folgaria-Alpe Cimbra, Italy. Her mom, Eileen, who had stepped back from her coaching role earlier this fall, came over before Christmas and was on the hill Saturday, along with Shiffrin’s dad. Shiffrin called it “soul-healing.”

“It’s pretty hard to believe this right now,” she said of the victory. “I know that sounds strange, but it is. … It sounds a little bit stupid, actually, to say the last week was a tough time because I still have already an amazing season. One bad race, it’s stupid, really. It’s just ski racing. But I care.

“The big question in my mind was, when there’s the pressure of a race, can I do it? Can I actually do the good skiing? This season has been really, really difficult. I know I say it doesn’t matter what I did last season [record 17 World Cup wins]. … But when you go through every single race and people are saying, well this is what you did last year. This is how many points you had last year. By this time last year you had won in multiple disciplines and all these things, I’m starting to compare every step with what I did last season, a season that might never happen again. So this last week was a lot of learning, again, to put those expectations aside because the amount of hurt that I felt after Courchevel — not that I came in 17th, but that I skied to deserve 17th.

“So I had to change a lot of things this last week and also change my attitude and come into this race really not expecting to win and knowing that I don’t deserve to win. … Doing those two runs was really, really special, and it meant a lot more that you can’t sum it up on paper.

“I don’t think it’s a problem to compare this season with last season, but the problem is when I start to think, if I don’t win 17 races this season, then I’ve failed. That’s when the pressure is just too much because that’s an unreasonable expectation.”

She will be favored again in Sunday’s slalom in Lienz (NBC Sports Gold, 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.) on the eighth anniversary of her first World Cup podium on the same track. A 43rd career World Cup slalom win would tie Vonn for the most victories in a single discipline for a woman. Vonn won 43 downhills.

Shiffrin increased her World Cup overall standings lead over Italian Federica Brignone but still trails Brignone in the giant slalom standings through four of nine scheduled GS events.

“So far, I’ve had an incredible season this year, too, but in a lot of ways, I’ve failed to compare to [last season],” she said. “The way that I’ve been feeling is I’m getting worse, even though I’m not. That’s the mental challenge, and that’s a new thing that I’m learning. It’s a difficult learning curve.”

Shiffrin had been tied with Austrian Annemarie Moser-Pröll on career World Cup wins since her last victory in Killington, Vt., on Dec. 1.

“The thing that makes me the most frustrated is if I don’t have a good race, and people say, oh, she’s just human,” Shiffrin said. “The biggest thing that motivates all of us is working hard enough to never feel that pain again.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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MORE: Shiffrin among 10 dominant Winter Olympians of 2010s decade

Faith Kipyegon smashes women’s 1500m world record in Florence


Kenyan Faith Kipyegon smashed the women’s 1500m world record, clocking 3 minutes, 49.11 seconds at a Diamond League meet in Florence, Italy, on Friday.

Kipyegon, a two-time Olympic champion and two-time world champion, took 96 hundredths of a second off Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba‘s world record from 2015. Kipyegon began the day as the second-fastest woman in history at 3:50.37.

“I didn’t expect to run a world record,” she said. “I was looking forward to run a world lead, which was 3:54.”

The 29-year-old was already the most decorated female miler in history, the only one with four global 1500m titles. Her Olympic gold medals in 2016 and 2021 were separated by a 22-month maternity leave from competition (that included 12 months without running).

Kipyegon was the eighth of nine children growing on a farm in the Kenyan Rift Valley. She was a soccer player at age 14 when she lined up for a one-kilometer run in PE class, according to World Athletics.

“I won that race by 20 meters,” Kipyegon said, according to World Athletics in 2016. “It is only then I knew I could run fast and be a good athlete.”

In 2010, a barefooted Kipyegon placed fourth in the world cross country championships junior race as, at age 16, the youngest finisher in the top 21. The next year, she won it. The year after that, she made her Olympic debut at age 18. By 2015, Jenny Simpson, arguably the best American miler in history, had a nickname for her: “The Sniper,” for her ability to run people down in the final lap.

After the pacers dropped out, Kipyegon ran the last lap on Friday in 58.87 seconds.

Next year, Kipyegon can become the second person to win the same individual Olympic track race three times, joining Usain Bolt. She repeated after Friday’s world record that she may move up to the 5000m after the Paris Olympics en route to, eventually, the marathon.

“After Olympics, we will see what is possible,” she said.

Full meet results are here.

Also in Florence, world champion Fred Kerley extended a year-plus win streak in the men’s 100m, prevailing in 9.94 seconds over Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala (10.04) and American Trayvon Bromell (10.09, after returning from a March Achilles injury at a meet last Sunday).

Dutchwoman Femke Bol won the 400m hurdles in 52.43 seconds, the fastest time ever recorded this early in a year. Bol, the Olympic bronze medalist and world silver medalist, is the world’s fastest this year by eight tenths of a second. World record holder Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone has yet to race this outdoor season and could bypass the 400m hurdles entirely for the flat 400m.

Erriyon Knighton, a 19-year-old American, took the 200m in 19.89 seconds to rank third in the world this year. Knighton may be the favorite at July’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships given Noah Lyles, who won the 2022 World title in an American record 19.31, has a bye into August’s worlds as defending champion.

World champion Grant Holloway won the 110m hurdles in 13.04 seconds. Holloway, the world’s fastest man this year at 13.01, outsprinted Devon Allen, the world’s fastest man in 2022, in two Diamond League head-to-heads this week.

Spain’s Mohamed Katir won the 5000m in 12:52.09, edging Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha by three hundredths. Woody Kincaid (12:54.40) and Joe Klecker (12:55.16) ran personal bests to move into Nos. 3 and 4 on the U.S. all-time list behind Grant Fisher and Bernard Lagat.

Olympic champion Valarie Allman won the discus in her first matchup with China’s Feng Bin since Feng won the world title last July. Allman, who has the world’s top nine throws this year, prevailed with a 65.96-meter toss, five centimeters farther than Feng.

Olympic and world champion Katie Moon won a pole vault that included the top five women from last August’s worlds. Moon cleared 4.71 meters and has the world’s top clearance this season of 4.81.

American JuVaughn Harrison earned his second Diamond League high jump win this season by clearing 2.32 meters, just as he did in Doha last month.

Italian Larissa Iapichino was the surprise long jump winner, going 6.79 meters. She beat a field that included Olympic and world champion Malaika Mihambo of Germany, who was fifth. Jamaican Ackelia Smith, a University of Texas sophomore, remains best in the world this year at 7.08 meters.

The Diamond League season continues with a meet in Paris next Friday, live on Peacock. McLaughlin-Levrone is scheduled to make her outdoor season debut in the flat 400m, an event she is also expected to contest at July’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. If McLaughlin-Levrone finishes in the top three at USATF Outdoors, she will choose either the 400m or the 400m hurdles to race at August’s world championships, her coach said last month.

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2023 French Open women’s singles draw, scores

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At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Having turned 22 on Wednesday, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula, the highest-seeded American man or woman, was eliminated in the third round.

No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, is the best hope to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

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