Mikaela Shiffrin/Petra Vlhova slalom streak ends at 28 wins

1 Comment

For the first time in nearly four years, a woman other than Mikaela Shiffrin and Petra Vlhova won a World Cup slalom.

It was Swiss Michelle Gisin, the 2018 Olympic combined champion who earned her first World Cup victory in her 144th career start — eight years to the day since her World Cup debut at the same venue of Semmering, Austria.

Gisin, 27, erased Shiffrin’s lead of .02 from the first run and won by .11 over Austrian Katharina Liensberger.

Shiffrin ended up third, .57 behind, finishing a calendar year without a World Cup slalom victory for the first time since she was 16 in 2011. The Slovakian Vlhova, winner of the last five slaloms dating to last season, was fourth. Full results are here.

Shiffrin and Vlhova combined to win the previous 28 World Cup slaloms dating to January 2017.

“I broke the incredible run of two giants,” said Gisin, who got her first win with her 10th career podium and skied on a second-run course set by her coach. “It was the perfect day.”

Shiffrin last won a slalom exactly one year ago, which was also the last time she led a slalom after the opening run.

“Not sour. It was not a bad day,” said Shiffrin, who notched her 99th World Cup podium (67 of which are victories). “I know I have faster or more stable skiing, but it’s a process, and I’m going step by step.”

Shiffrin completed the most difficult year of her career. In the last six weeks, she returned to racing for the first time in 300 days — since the death of her father, Jeff, on Feb. 2 — and, in five races, finished first, second, third, fourth and fifth.

The emotional win came Dec. 14 in a giant slalom in Courchevel, France.

“I think a lot of people feel like, I won in Courchevel, so that means like I’m totally back and things are really back to normal, which, I don’t see it that way,” she said last week. “I mean, I feel like, maybe normal doesn’t exist. I didn’t like ‘come back’ in Courchevel. It’s always a process. My entire career has been a really long process, and it hasn’t changed just because I won a race again.”

The women next race in Zagreb, Croatia, for another slalom on Sunday (9:30 a.m. ET, Olympic Channel and Peacock Premium).

“I’m trying to remember how these things feel,” Shiffrin said, noting she was fighting for her life trying to bring intensity in her second run. “It’s coming. I think it’s moving in a really good direction.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
Ironman
0 Comments

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.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

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.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

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.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

Joan Benoit Samuelson
Getty
0 Comments

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!