Mikaela Shiffrin calls out ‘unprofessional’ delay after Petra Vlhova wins

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Mikaela Shiffrin called out an “unprofessional” delay after just missing a 70th World Cup victory as Slovakian rival Petra Vlhova won a giant slalom on her home hill in Jasna, Slovakia, on Sunday.

Shiffrin, the first-run leader by .16 of a second over Vlhova, ended up third after the second run, when she was held at the start for two and a half minutes while at least two course workers fixed a gate after Vlhova, the penultimate skier, went into the lead.

Shiffrin said she believed the delay was done on purpose, calling it “unprofessional” and “ridiculous” while not taking away from Vlhova’s 19th World Cup victory.

“That should take 30 seconds,” Shiffrin said. “I just felt like she’s a good enough skier to win these races on her own and doesn’t need this unprofessional act from something that she doesn’t have control over, or I don’t have control over, but just [for others] to say, oh, she’s in the lead, and let’s see if we can do something to, I don’t know, get in my head or something. I have to handle those situations better, because it happens more often than you think. But that was frustrating because I could have come down in third anyway, she would have won.

“It’s just a bit ridiculous, and that’s really obvious.”

Vlhova prevailed by .16 over New Zealand’s Alice Robinson for an extra meaningful victory.

Vlhova, who last year supplanted Shiffrin as the world’s top slalom skier, ended a 20-race victory drought, her longest internationally since her second World Cup win in March 2017.

“I had a small crisis,” Vlhova said in an emotional finish-area interview. “At the end, on my home slope, I won. This was my dream.”

Shiffrin dropped to third, .37 behind, for her 102nd career podium in her 188th start. She got upset while waiting at the start.

“I just was thinking this is so obviously false, and that makes me mad because, for sure, life’s not fair,” she said. “I know that better than anyone, and ski racing is certainly not always fair, but at least it can be professional.”

Italian Marta Bassino placed fourth and clinched the World Cup season title in the GS.

American Nina O’Brien was fourth after the opening run, then fell in her second run going for her first World Cup podium. Full results are here.

Vlhova gained 71 points on Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami in the standings for the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing. A Slovakian has never captured it.

Gut-Behrami, who is better in downhill and super-G, leads by 36 points going into the last six races. A race winner gets 100 points. Second place gets 80.

Shiffrin, who is not going for the overall title this season, tries again for win No. 70 in slaloms on Friday and Saturday in Are, Sweden, live on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and Peacock Premium. A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

Friday marks the 10th anniversary of her World Cup slalom debut at age 15.

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Svetlana Romashina, seven-time Olympic champion artistic swimmer, retires

Svetlana Romashina
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Russian Svetlana Romashina, the most decorated artistic swimmer in Olympic history with seven gold medals, announced her retirement at age 33.

Romashina entered seven Olympic artistic swimming events and won all of them, starting in 2008. She won four Olympic titles in the team event and three in the duet (two with Nataliya Ishchenko and one with Svetlana Kolesnichenko).

The Tokyo Games marked her last major competition.

Romashina is the only woman to go undefeated in her Olympic career while entering seven or more events. The only man to do so was American track and field athlete Ray Ewry, who won all eight of his Olympic starts from 1900-08, according to Olympedia.org.

Romashina also won 21 world championships medals — all gold, second in aquatics history behind Michael Phelps‘ 26.

She took nearly two years off after giving birth to daughter Alexandra in November 2017, then came back to win three golds at her last world championships in 2019 and two golds at her last Olympics in 2021.

Romashina is now an artistic swimming coach, according to Russian media.

Russian swimmers swept the Olympic duet and team titles at each of the last six Olympics.

Russians have been banned from international competition since March due to the war in Ukraine.

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Mikaela Shiffrin, three gates from gold, skis out of world championships combined

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Mikaela Shiffrin was three gates from a record-tying seventh world championships gold medal when she lost her balance and straddled a gate, skiing out of the first race of worlds on Monday.

Italian Federica Brignone won the women’s combined instead, prevailing by 1.62 seconds over Swiss Wendy Holdener, the largest Olympic or world championships men’s or women’s margin of victory in the event since it switched from three runs to two in 2007.

Austrian Ricarda Haaser took bronze in an event that is one run of super-G followed by one run of slalom.

At 32, Brignone, the 2020 World Cup overall champion, won her first global title and became the oldest female world champion in any event.

“What was missing in my career was a gold medal,” she said. “So I’m old. No, I’m just kidding.”

ALPINE WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Shiffrin was sixth fastest in the opening super-G run, 96 hundredths behind Brignone. She skied aggressively in the slalom in a bid to beat Brignone. Shiffrin cut the gap to eight hundredths by the last intermediate split with about 10 seconds left on the course in Meribel, France.

Shiffrin looked set to overtake Brignone until tripping up slightly with five gates left. It compounded, and Shiffrin couldn’t save the run, losing control, straddling the third-to-last gate and skiing out. The timing system still registered her finish — 34 hundredths faster than Brignone — but it was quickly corrected to the obvious disqualification.

Asked on French TV if she lost focus, Shiffrin said, “People are going to say that no matter what.”

“The surface changed a little bit on these last gates, so [on pre-race] inspection I saw it’s a bit more unstable on the snow,” she added. “I tried to be aware of that, but I knew that if I had a chance to make up nine tenths on Federica, or more than that, like one second, I had to push like crazy. So I did, and I had a very good run. I’m really happy with my skiing.”

It marked Shiffrin’s first time skiing out since she did so in three races at last February’s Olympics, where her best individual finish was ninth in five races. At the Olympics, she skied out within the first 13 seconds in each instance. On Monday, she was more than 40 seconds into her run.

“I was thinking, now I’m going to go through the mixed zone. and everyone’s going to ask, ‘Oh, is this Beijing again?'” Shiffrin said. “I didn’t really think about that for myself, but more for the people asking. But I also said before, coming into this world champs multiple times, I’m not afraid if it happens again. What if I don’t finish every run? What happened last year, and I survived. And then I’ve had some pretty amazing races this season. So I would take the season that I’ve had with no medals at the world championships. If it’s either/or, then I would take that. I’m happy with it. But I’m going to be pushing for medals, because that’s what you do at world champs. You wear your heart on your sleeve, and you go for it. I’m not afraid of the consequences, as long as I have that mentality, which I had today.”

NBC Sports analyst Steve Porino said what happened Monday was “completely different” from the Olympics, calling it “an error of aggression.”

“It certainly wasn’t nerves that sent her out,” Porino said on the Peacock broadcast. “This was Shiffrin knowing that she had to have a huge run to get the gold medal.

“The way she went out this time, I think she can brush that one off.”

Shiffrin was bidding to tie the modern-era records for individual world championships gold medals (seven) and total medals (12). Coming into Monday, she earned a medal in her last 10 world championships races dating to 2015.

Her next chance to match those records comes in Wednesday’s super-G, where she is a medal contender. Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel is the world’s top-ranked super-G skier through five races on the World Cup this season, though she was 71 hundredths behind Brignone in Monday’s super-G run.

Shiffrin has raced two super-Gs this season with a win and a seventh place.

She is expected to race three more times over the two-week worlds, which is separate from the World Cup circuit that she has torn up this season.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup wins in 23 starts across all disciplines since November, moving her one shy of the career victories record of 86 accumulated by Swede Ingemar Stenmark in the 1970s and ’80s. Again, world championships races do not count toward the World Cup, which picks back up after worlds end in late February.

Worlds continue Tuesday with the men’s combined.

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