Tatyana McFadden eyes another busy Paralympic schedule in 2021


Four years ago in Rio, Tatyana McFadden earned Paralympic medals in all six individual races from the 100m through the marathon. She wants another crack at that daunting schedule in Tokyo next year, bidding to significantly add to her 17 career medals.

“My career started as a sprinter,” McFadden, who debuted at the Paralympics in 2004 at age 15, recently told NBC Sports research. “I’m finding it’s a little harder as you get older.”

The 100m, McFadden’s primary event 16 years ago in Athens, is now her toughest. She prefers the 400m and 800m, though McFadden is best known for her marathon prowess.

She swept the Boston, London, Chicago and New York City Marathon wheelchair divisions in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. In Rio, she was shockingly edged out for marathon gold in a photo finish after 98 minutes on the roads.

Also in Rio, McFadden spoke with film producer Greg Nugent. Those conversations helped lead to this week’s Netflix release of “Rising Phoenix,” which intertwines the history of the Paralympics with the stories of nine current athletes.

Sir Ludwig Guttmann, a Jewish doctor who fled Nazi Germany for Great Britain, is considered the founder of the Paralympic movement. He established the Stoke Mandeville Games — at the British hospital of the same name — in 1948 to give rehabbing World War II veterans athletic competition.

“It’s a story that has never been told before,” McFadden said. “People have an idea about what the Paralympics is, but they don’t really know the history behind it.”

McFadden also told her story in the film. She was born in Russia, paralyzed from the waist down due to spina bifida, and adopted from a St. Petersburg orphanage at age 6 by Deborah McFadden, then Commissioner of Disabilities for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and her partner.

“We want to normalize disability through sport and make it bigger, make it better,” said Tatyana McFadden, one of three producers for “Rising Phoenix.” Sixteen percent of the film’s staff had a disability.

While McFadden was one of the world’s dominant athletes in the Rio Paralympic cycle, the last four years brought challenges. In 2017, she had multiple hospital visits and surgeries for blood clots in her legs. Last year, she finished second to Swiss Manuela Schar in all five of her major marathons starts. She didn’t compete at the world championships on the track that took place one week after her last 26.2-miler.

In addition to work on the film, McFadden spent time during the pandemic working on a nutrition book and adding a once-a-week spa day.

She’s gearing up for her next major competition, signed up for the virtual New York City Marathon. The in-person Nov. 1 event was canceled due to the coronavirus, but athletes can log their own marathons (or shorter distances) between Oct. 17-Nov. 1 through New York Road Runners.

McFadden hopes to compete through the 2028 Los Angeles Paralympics and may go for a second Winter Games appearance.

“I’ve always been resilient,” McFadden told Mike Tirico in March after the one-year postponement. “This is just another resilient moment.”

MORE: How the Olympics, Paralympics intersected over time

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Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight


Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen

Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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