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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Chicago Marathon features Emily Sisson’s return, Conner Mantz’s debut, live on Peacock

Emily Sisson
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At Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, Emily Sisson makes her return, nearly three years after Olympic Trials disappointment. Conner Mantz makes one of the most anticipated U.S. men’s debuts in 26.2-mile racing.

It is not the norm, but an American will be one of the spotlight runners in both the men’s and women’s elite races at a major marathon. Peacock airs live coverage at 8 a.m. ET.

Sisson, 30, starts her first mass marathon since dropping out of the Olympic Trials on Feb. 29, 2020, her legs “destroyed” on the hilly Atlanta course where she started as arguably the favorite. She ran the virtual New York City Marathon later in 2020, but that was solo (and not in New York City). Her 2:38:00 isn’t recorded in her official results on her World Athletics bio.

Since, Sisson won the Olympic Trials 10,000m on the track and was the top American in Tokyo in 10th place. She moved back to the roads, winning national titles at 15km and the half marathon and breaking the American record in the latter.

Sisson vaulted into the elite group of U.S. female marathoners in 2019, when she clocked the second-fastest debut marathon in American history, a 2:23:08 on a windy day in London, where the early pace was slow.

At the time, it was the 12th-best U.S. performance all-time. In the last two years, Keira D’Amato, 37, and Sara Hall, 39, combined to run seven faster marathons. At Chicago, a flat course that produced a world record three years ago, Sisson can answer them and perhaps get close to D’Amato’s American record 2:19:12.

“I’m hoping sub-2:20,” coach Ray Treacy said, according to LetsRun.com. “With the [super] shoes and the training behind her, I would think that’s [worth] at least three minutes.”

It is less likely that Sisson can challenge for the win on Sunday given the presence of Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich, the 2019 World champion and defending champion in the Windy City. The 28-year-old mom is the fifth-fastest woman in history with a personal best of 2:17:08. And Ethiopian Ruti Aga, a podium finisher in Berlin, New York City and Tokyo with a best time of 2:18:34, though she has one marathon finish since the pandemic (a seventh place).

Like Sisson, Mantz has shown strong recent road racing form. The American men’s debut marathon record of 2:07:56 (Leonard Korir) is in play. If he can break that, Mantz will be among the five fastest U.S. marathoners in history.

Rarely has a U.S. male distance runner as accomplished as Mantz moved up to the marathon at such a young age (25). At BYU, he won NCAA cross-country titles in 2020 and 2021 and placed fifth in the Olympic Trials 10,000m, then turned pro and won the U.S. Half Marathon Championships last December.

“If everything goes as planned, I think sub-2:08 is realistic,” Mantz said in a Citius Mag video interview last month. “If everything goes perfect on the day, I think a sub-2:07, that’s a big stretch goal.”

The men’s field doesn’t have the singular star power of Chepngetich, but a large group of East Africans with personal bests around 2:05. The most notable: defending champion Seifu Tura of Ethiopia and 2021 Boston Marathon winner Benson Kipruto of Kenya.

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Alpine skiing to test new format for combined race

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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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