Petra Vlhova, Alexis Pinturault win Alpine skiing World Cup overall titles

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Slovakian Petra Vlhova and Frenchman Alexis Pinturault won their first Alpine skiing World Cup overall titles, while Mikaela Shiffrin finished second in the slalom standings on Saturday.

Vlhova became the first person from her nation to win ski racing’s biggest annual prize by placing sixth in the women’s slalom at the World Cup Finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

“It means a lot because I made history. I cannot believe it,” Vlhova said on ORF, noting being disappointed with the slalom result while acknowledging the difficulty of doing all 30 races so far this season. “This, for us, was main goal for this season.”

Vlhova needed to finish 15th or better to mathematically clinch over Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami with one race remaining, a giant slalom on Sunday.

Vlhova, who last year supplanted Shiffrin as the world’s best slalom skier, was overtaken in this season’s final slalom standings by Austrian Katharina Liensberger.

Liensberger, the 23-year-old gold medalist at last month’s world championships, won on Saturday by 1.24 seconds over Shiffrin, denying the American a seventh slalom season title. Liensberger came into the season with a best World Cup race finish of third, yet in the last month won worlds and two World Cups all by seven tenths of a second or more.

“I couldn’t expect anything,” before the season, said Liensberger, who steadily rose in the slalom standings in her 20s, from 14th to seventh to third last year. “I knew just from the last seasons that I’m just getting better.”

ON HER TURF: Alpine skiers explain: ‘What Mikaela Shiffrin taught me’

Shiffrin, who went 300 days between races in 2020, needed to finish higher than Liensberger to have a chance at the crystal globe.

“There’s a lot of things that went totally different this season, and I had a lot of uncertainty personally,” Shiffrin said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “It’s been quite successful, even if it’s comparatively not as successful as other seasons. It’s a really good stepping stone for me.”

Earlier, Pinturault won a men’s giant slalom and clinched the overall on his 30th birthday. Pinturault finished second or third in the overall standings on five previous occasions. He began Saturday with 33 World Cup race victories, the most for any man yet to win an overall.

“I worked so hard for so many years,” he said. “I was always searching for, pushing for [titles].”

Pinturault went into the World Cup Finals leading Swiss Marco Odermatt by 31 points. After the downhill and super-G were canceled due to weather, he was in position to win the overall by finishing ahead of Odermatt in the GS.

Pinturault not only won the GS race, but he also claimed his first season title in that discipline after placing second or third the previous eight years, usually behind Marcel Hirscher, Ted Ligety or both.

The World Cup Finals finish Sunday. A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

ON HER TURF: U.S. skier details eating disorder treatment

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Mo Farah likely to retire this year

Mo Farah
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British track legend Mo Farah will likely retire by the end of this year.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics, and I think 2023 will probably be my last year,” the 39-year-old Farah said, according to multiple British media reports.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, was announced Tuesday as part of the field for the London Marathon on April 23.

Last May, Farah reportedly said he believed his career on the track was over, but not the roads.

London might not be his last marathon. Farah also said that if, toward the end of this year, he was capable of being picked to run for Britain again, he would “never turn that down,” according to Tuesday’s reports.

It’s not clear if Farah was referencing the world track and field championships, which include a marathon and are in Budapest in August. Or selection for the 2024 British Olympic marathon team.

The fastest British male marathoner last year ran 2:10:46, ranking outside the top 300 in the world. Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, but he hasn’t run one since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

Farah withdrew four days before the last London Marathon on Oct. 2, citing a right hip injury.

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah’s best London Marathon finish in four starts was third place in 2018.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch
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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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