Mikaela Shiffrin wins Killington slalom to tie World Cup record

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Mikaela Shiffrin tied the record for World Cup wins in a single discipline with her 46th slalom victory, prevailing at the circuit’s lone stop in the U.S. in Killington, Vermont, for a fifth straight time.

Shiffrin, with the fastest second run, prevailed by .75 of a second over Slovakian rival Petra Vlhova. She was in tears in the winner’s chair.

“Over the years I’ve had some really special moments here with family,” Shiffrin, who endured a difficult two years with the loss of her maternal grandmother just before the last Killington race in 2019 and her father in February 2020, said on ORF. “Two of them are not here anymore. So it’s emotional.”

Vlhova, who led Shiffrin by two tenths after the first run, got wrong-footed early in her second run. Swiss Wendy Holdener was third, her 28th World Cup slalom podium without a win.

Full results are here.

Shiffrin, who has won all five Killington World Cup slaloms, tied Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record for career World Cup wins in a single discipline.

Stenmark won 46 giant slaloms in the 1970s and ’80s. Stenmark has the most total World Cup wins — 86. Shiffrin, 26 years old, is third on that list with 71.

“I actually didn’t know the [46 wins] record,” said Shiffrin, who posted her largest slalom margin of victory since the last Killington stop in 2019. “I won’t say it’s not meaningful. It certainly is, but I’m trying not to focus on those numbers. The closer I get to these marks, it’s hard not to think about it and want that.”

Vlhova, who beat Shiffrin in the season’s first two slaloms, led Shiffrin by .24 of a second at the first split in the second run before her mistake.

“I am happy because it could be much worse,” Vlhova said.

Shiffrin or Vlhova won 35 of the last 38 World Cup slaloms dating to 2017. Since the start of 2020, Vlhova won nine. Shiffrin has now won three, missing one slalom in February 2020 while going 300 days between races following her father’s death.

Vlhova developed into a bona fide rival leading up to the PyeongChang Olympics, where both missed the medals in the event.

After Shiffrin dominated the 2018-19 season with 17 total World Cup wins, Vlhova stepped it up. The Slovakian, whom Shiffrin’s mom once reportedly said, “skis like Mikaela more than Mikaela skis like Mikaela,” defeated Shiffrin in consecutive slaloms in January 2020, in November 2020 and again earlier this month.

Shiffrin’s training was curtailed by a recurring back injury in early November, right before Vlhova won back-to-back slaloms in Levi, Finland.

There are four more World Cup slaloms between now and the Olympics, all in a two-week span in late December and early January. Those will determine who goes into the Olympics as the favorite.

“Every single race is an enormous test, and it’s very nerve-racking as well,” Shiffrin said of competing against Vlhova. “When we go to the start of the next slalom race, it’s going to feel like the start of a new season.”

The World Cup moves next weekend to Lake Louise, Canada, for the season’s first speed races.

Shiffrin is expected to compete there as she sizes up for a potential Olympic schedule of racing all five individual events.

The men’s World Cup has speed races in Beaver Creek, Colorado, starting Thursday.

MORE: Alpine Skiing broadcast schedule

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Coco Gauff rallies past 16-year-old at French Open

Coco Gauff French Open
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Coco Gauff rallied to defeat 16-year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva in the French Open third round in Gauff’s first Grand Slam singles match against a younger opponent.

The sixth seed Gauff, the 2022 French Open runner-up, outlasted Andreeva 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-1 to reach the fourth round, where she will play Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova or American Kayla Day. Gauff could play top seed and defending champ Iga Swiatek in the quarterfinals.

This week, Andreeva became the youngest player to win a French Open main draw match since 2005 (when 15-year-old Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria made the quarterfinals). She was bidding to become the youngest to make the last 16 of any major since Gauff’s breakout as a 15-year-old.

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The American made it that far at 2019 Wimbledon (beating Venus Williams in her Grand Slam main draw debut) and the 2020 Australian Open (beating defending champion Naomi Osaka) before turning 16. At last year’s French Open, Gauff became the youngest player to make a Grand Slam final since Maria Sharapova won 2004 Wimbledon at 17.

This was only Gauff’s third match against a younger player dating to her tour debut in 2019. It took Gauff 50 Grand Slam matches to finally face a younger player on this stage, a testament to how ahead of the curve she was (and still is at age 19).

While Gauff is the only teenager ranked in the top 49 in the world, Andreeva is the highest-ranked player under the age of 18 at No. 143 (and around No. 100 after the French). And she doesn’t turn 17 until next April. Andreeva dropped just six games in her first two matches at this French Open, fewest of any woman.

Gauff is the last seeded American woman left in the draw after No. 3 Jessica Pegula, No. 20 Madison Keys and No. 32 Shelby Rogers previously lost.

The last U.S. woman to win a major title was Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major span without an American champ is the longest for U.S. women since Monica Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

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Rafael Nadal expected to miss rest of 2023 season after surgery

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Rafael Nadal is expected to need five months to recover from arthroscopic surgery for a left hip flexor injury that kept him out of the French Open, effectively ruling him out for the rest of 2023 ATP tournament season.

Nadal underwent the surgery Friday night in Barcelona on the eve of his 37th birthday. He posted that, if all goes well, the recovery time is five months.

The timetable leaves open the possibility that Nadal could return for the Nov. 21-26 Davis Cup Finals team event in Malaga, Spain, which take place after the ATP Tour tournament season ends.

Nadal announced on May 18 that he had to withdraw from the French Open, a tournament he won a record 14 times, due to the injury that’s sidelined him since January’s Australian Open.

Nadal also said he will likely retire from professional tennis in the second half of 2024 after a farewell season that he hopes includes playing at Roland Garros twice — for the French Open and then the Paris Olympics.

When Nadal returns to competition, he will be older than any previous Grand Slam singles champion in the Open Era.

Nadal is tied with Novak Djokovic for the men’s record 23 Grand Slam singles titles.

While Nadal needs to be one of the four-highest ranked Spanish men after next year’s French Open for direct Olympic qualification in singles, he can, essentially, temporarily freeze his ranking in the top 20 under injury protection rules.

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