Mikaela Shiffrin ends decade with another win, record-breaking streak

Leave a comment

Mikaela Shiffrin finished the decade with a fitting, record-breaking victory in Lienz, Austria, on the eighth anniversary of her first World Cup podium at the same venue.

Shiffrin won a slalom to make it back-to-back victories in the Austrian Dolomites after Saturday’s giant slalom triumph. She prevailed by .61 of a second over Slovakian Petra Vlhova. Swiss Michelle Gisin was third, 1.72 seconds behind.

Full results are here.

“When I saw Petra go in the second run … I was like, oh, no, I can’t ski it that fast,” said Shiffrin, who led Vlhova by. 26 after the first run, then skied the finale immediately after Vlhova posted the then-fastest time in the second run. “She’s been one of the girls that when I’m skiing really well, she’s skied better, and not from luck.”

Vlhova is the only woman other than Shiffrin to win a traditional World Cup slalom in nearly three years, beating Shiffrin on four occasions (while Shiffrin won 19).

“It’s really difficult. She is all the time perfect, like today, she did both runs perfect,” Vlhova said. “Second place is good, but I always want to do better, but today she was the best.”

Shiffrin became the first man or woman to make 14 straight traditional World Cup slalom podiums (without sitting out a race), extending a streak that dates to the PyeongChang Olympics. Shiffrin won all but one of those slaloms.

With her 43rd World Cup slalom win, Shiffrin also tied Lindsey Vonn for the most victories in a single discipline for a woman. Vonn bagged 43 downhills. Swedish legend Ingemark Stenmark holds the overall mark with 46 giant slalom titles.

For the decade, Shiffrin earned 71 wins and 101 podiums in 182 races among the Olympics, world championships and the World Cup. That’s a winning percentage of 39 and a podium percentage of 55.

Those percentages increase if counting only slaloms and starting the time frame from Shiffrin’s first World Cup podium on Dec. 29, 2011 in Lienz.

Sunday also provided a winning end to an eventful year for Shiffrin, both on and off the course.

While she set a new best mark with 17 World Cup wins in the 2018-19 season and won two world titles, she moved into a new house and saw a two-year relationship with French skier Mathieu Faivre come to an end.

“I feel like I learned a lot, I feel like it’s been emotional. I have gone through a lot of changes and transitions in my life,” she said. “I feel like I grew up a lot this last year. I feel like I was 17 last year and all of a sudden I am 24.”

The women’s World Cup moves to Zagreb for another slalom on Saturday (10 a.m. ET, Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and NBC Sports Gold).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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

Maria Sharapova wraps up tennis career after nearly two decades, career Slam

Maria Sharapova
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Maria Sharapova has announced her retirement after a professional tennis career that includes five Grand Slam wins, 36 singles titles and an Olympic silver medal.

Sharapova was only 17 when she won her first major in 2004 at Wimbledon. She won the U.S. Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008 before completing her career Grand Slam in the 2012 French Open. She won the French Open again in 2014.

After moving from Russia to Florida at age 9 to train at the Bollettieri Academy, she made her professional debut just after her 14th birthday in 2001. She graduated to top-level events and majors within two years and reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2003.

In 2004, she upset Lindsay Davenport and Serena Williams at Wimbledon and beat Williams again at the Tour Championships.

By 2005, the 6-foot-2 player had claimed the top spot in the world rankings. She remained in the top five for most of the next four years before suffering an injury to her right shoulder that limited her tournament schedule in 2008 and 2009. By 2011, she had reclaimed her status as a top-five player and remained there until 2016.

Her career declined after a positive drug test at the 2016 Australian Open. The substance in question, meldonium, had been given by Russian doctors to many athletes.

An initial suspension of two years was reduced to 15 months, but she wasn’t able to get back to her previous form. She won one more tournament in 2017 and reached the quarterfinals of the 2018 French Open, but she fared poorly in sporadic appearances in 2019. Her last match was a loss to Donna Vekic in the first round of the Australian Open in January.

SEE: Sharapova discusses reduced ban on TODAY

Her meldonium suspension also cost her commercial sponsorships and her role as a UN Development Program ambassador, which she earned with her work to help survivors of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl.

She was involved in the Olympics as a silver medalist in 2012, losing to Williams in the final, and as one of the final torch bearers in the relay to the 2014 Olympics opening ceremony in her home country.

She’s also third on the all-time WTA earnings list behind Serena and Venus Williams, taking in more than $38m in her career on top of lucrative endorsement deals.

Federica Brignone hopes World Cup rival Mikaela Shiffrin will return soon

Shiffrin and Brignone
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mikaela Shiffrin‘s prolonged absence from the World Cup Alpine skiing circuit has opened the door for Italy’s Federica Brignone to break the American’s grip on the season title, but Brignone hopes her friend and rival will be back in competition soon.

“I really do hope that she will return soon for herself so she can do again what she loves most,” Brignone said.

Brignone took the season lead from Shiffrin, who has won the last three World Cup overall titles, on Sunday and has a 73-point advantage with 11 of the season’s 40 races remaining. She also leads Shiffrin by 74 points in the giant slalom standings.

READ: Brignone moves into World Cup lead

No Italian woman has won the overall World Cup. Brignone was fifth in 2017 and won the Alpine combined discipline title last season.

Brignone will have a chance to clinch another Alpine combined discipline title and extend her overall lead in her home country this weekend. While some other sports events in Italy have been canceled or otherwise affected by the coronavirus outbreak, the host resort of La Thuile has so far been spared from the virus’ spread.

Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, the only other skier with a realistic chance of winning the overall trophy, is dealing with a knee injury and might not be able to race this weekend. Vhlova leads Shiffrin by 20 points in the slalom standings.

Shiffrin has not competed since the death of her father Feb. 2, and she has not announced plans to return. She was not on pace to match her astounding 17-win 2018-19 season but still had six wins and had reached the podium in 13 of 19 races.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!