Petra Vlhova wins in Zagreb; Mikaela Shiffrin just misses 100th podium

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Mikaela Shiffrin finished fourth, missing her 100th career World Cup podium by five hundredths of a second, in a slalom won by Slovakian rival Petra Vlhova on Sunday in Zagreb.

Shiffrin was fourth fastest in the opening run and could not overtake any of the top three under the lights in the Croatian capital. She finished .27 behind Vlhova.

“Fourth and three tenths out is OK,” Shiffrin said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “I had a better second run with fewer mistakes — maybe a little less risk, but some better position on my skis. I can take that and go with it.”

Vlhova, who overtook Shiffrin as the top slalom skier over the last year, made a significant mistake late in her second run but still prevailed by .05 over Austrian Katharina Liensberger.

“I didn’t expect that I’d win,” Vlhova said on ORF.

Swiss Michelle Gisin was third. Full results are here.

Shiffrin’s last win in her trademark discipline of slalom was Dec. 29, 2019.

Since then, Vlhova has won six of the seven World Cup slaloms. Shiffrin missed one of those slaloms while going 300 days between races following the Feb. 2 death of her father.

In four slaloms this season, Shiffrin has finished second, third, fourth and fifth.

“I feel like I haven’t really skied my top level of slalom since the beginning of last season,” Shiffrin, who won a giant slalom last month, said before the Zagreb race. “Things are sort of starting to feel more familiar, and I feel like my skiing is starting to come back.

“In the beginning of the season, my goal was to figure out if I actually wanted to do this season and If I could ski fast. … Still being here right now and enjoy skiing somewhat is well beyond what my goal was. So now it’s like, OK, goals maybe have to do with some results, and if I can get a podium in slalom, then can I win? What is it going to take to get back to that place?”

The next Alpine skiing World Cup race is a men’s slalom on Wednesday in Zagreb (live on Olympic Channel and Peacock Premium).

The women have a downhill and super-G on Saturday and Sunday in St. Anton, Austria.

Shiffrin, who has focused on slalom and GS so far this season, will next race in a slalom in Flachau on Jan. 12. She might return to speed races in time to defend her world title in the super-G in February.

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

Ironman Kona World Championship
Ironman
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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.

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.

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

Joan Benoit Samuelson
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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.”

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