Mikaela Shiffrin to miss start of Alpine skiing World Cup season

Mikaela Shiffrin
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Mikaela Shiffrin will miss the start of the Alpine skiing World Cup season for the first time since 2011, sitting out next week’s giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, with a back injury.

“After tweaking my back skiing last week, I have been advised to sit Soelden out to let my back heal so I can race the rest of the season,” was posted on Shiffrin’s social media Friday. “Having started in Soelden for the last eight years straight, this feels…really frustrating and strange (for lack of better words). Luckily, this injury will heal and I will be back in the start soon.”

Shiffrin plans to fly back to the U.S. from Europe for rest and recovery with a to-be-announced return to competition, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard. The next scheduled World Cup event is a parallel giant slalom Nov. 13 in Austria.

Shiffrin, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time World Cup overall champion, last raced Jan. 26.

She missed the rest of the abbreviated 2019-20 season after her father’s death on Feb. 2. She traveled for a potential return for the final races of last season in Sweden in March, but they ended up getting canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shiffrin made the podium in Soelden five of the last six years, including sharing a victory in 2014.

New Zealand’s Alice Robinson, then 17, edged Shiffrin for the victory in Soelden last year. Another top contender for the Oct. 17 race is Italian Federica Brignone, who passed Shiffrin in the overall standings during her absence last winter and ended up with the title.

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Alpine skiing to test new format for combined race

Alpine Skiing Combined
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Alpine skiing officials will test a new format for the combined event, a race that is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

French newspaper L’Equipe reported that the International Ski Federation (FIS) will test a new team format for the combined, which has been an individual event on the Olympic program since 1988. L’Equipe reported that a nation can use a different skier for the downhill and slalom in the new setup, quoting FIS secretary general Michel Vion.

For example, the U.S. could use Breezy Johnson in the downhill run and sub her out for Mikaela Shiffrin in the slalom run, should the format be adopted into senior competition.

The format will be tested at the world junior championships in January in St. Anton, Austria, according to the report.

In response to the report, a FIS spokesperson said, “Regarding the new format of the combined is correct, and our directors are working on the rules so for the moment the only thing we can confirm is that there will be this new format for the Alpine combined that has been proposed by the athletes’ commission.”

Some version of the combined event has been provisionally included on the 2026 Olympic program, with a final IOC decision on its place coming by April.

This will be the third consecutive World Cup season with no combined events. Instead, FIS has included more parallel races in recent years. The individual combined remains on the biennial world championships program.

L’Equipe also reported that the mixed team parallel event, which is being dropped from the Olympics, will also be dropped from the biennial world championships after this season.

“There is nothing definitive about that yet, but it is a project in the making,” a FIS spokesperson said in commenting on the report.

Vion said the mixed team event, which debuted at the Olympics in 2018, was not a hit at the Beijing Games and did not draw a strong audience, according to L’Equipe.

The World Cup season starts in two weeks with the traditional opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona men’s pro race, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Both entered Kailua-Kona, where the races were now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men. Chelsea Sodaro won the women’s race, ending a 20-year American victory drought.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

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