Kaillie Humphries wins in first bobsled races as U.S. citizen

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ALTENBERG, Germany — For Kaillie Humphries, this was a win unlike any other.

Capping an unforgettable week, Humphries won a women’s monobob race on Saturday, doing so less than 48 hours after she completed a 12,000-mile round trip from Germany to the United States and finished the process of gaining citizenship.

Then she won the traditional two-woman World Cup event on Sunday.

They were the 44th and 45th international victories of her career on various circuits and at various levels, plus her 12th and 13th as a member of the U.S. bobsled team — and her first two as an American citizen.

“My first win, officially, as an American,” she said on the medals stand Saturday, with her hand over her heart, just a few seconds after realizing she had prevailed.

Humphries had to rally to get each victory. In monobob, she finished .06 of a second faster than Cynthia Appiah of Canada, who held the lead after the first of two heats. Laura Nolte of Germany was third, .53 back of Humphries.

In two-woman, Humphries and push athlete Kaysha Love prevailed by .04 over German Laura Nolte, who had the first-run lead by .02.

ON HER TURF: More on Humphries’ whirlwind week

The week wasn’t easy: Humphries was in six different beds in six nights and had the halfway-across-the-world trip squeezed in, with her Olympic hopes hinging on the outcome of the citizenship process. She acknowledged Saturday that not knowing if she would be eligible to compete at the Beijing Games had taken a toll.

Without citizenship, Humphries — a three-time Olympic medalist who came to the U.S. team three years after gaining her release from her native Canada — had no path to the Games this winter. Now, she’s going to be a medal favorite.

“I’d wake up and wonder why I’m doing this, days where I lacked motivation,” Humphries said. “When things get hard you start to doubt, and when you don’t have the Olympics as the end goal that you’re fighting for, those doubts creep in. I love what I do, but being able to wake up today and not have the stress of not knowing whether or not I’d be able to compete in the Olympics was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.”

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Injured Ilia Malinin wins Grand Prix Finland, qualifies for Grand Prix Final

Ilia Malinin
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Ilia Malinin, competing “a little bit injured” this week, still won Grand Prix Finland and goes into the Grand Prix Final in two weeks as the world’s top-ranked male singles skater.

Malinin, who was second after Friday’s short program, landed four clean quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate to overtake Frenchman Kevin Aymoz.

Malinin, who landed a quad flip in competition for the first time, according to SkatingScores.com, also attempted a quad Axel to open his program, but spun out of the landing and put his hand down on the ice.

Malinin also won his previous two starts this season in come-from-behind fashion. The 17-year-old world junior champion became the first skater to land a clean, fully rotated quad Axel in September, then did it again in October at Skate America, where he posted the world’s top overall score this season.

Next, Malinin can become the second-youngest man to win the Grand Prix Final after Russian Yevgeny Plushenko. His biggest competition is likely to be world champion Shoma Uno of Japan, who like Malinin won both of his Grand Prix starts this fall. Malinin and Uno have not gone head-to-head this season.

Grand Prix Finland highlights air on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

FIGURE SKATING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier, Japan’s Mai Mihara overtook world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium to become the only woman to win both of her Grand Prix starts this season. Mihara prevailed by .23 of a point. The top three women this season by best total score are Japanese, led by a junior skater, 14-year-old Mao Shimada, who isn’t Olympic age-eligible until 2030.

Mihara and Hendrickx qualified for the Grand Prix Final, joining world champion Kaori Sakamoto and Rinka Watanabe, both of Japan, South Korean Yelim Kim and American Isabeau Levito, the world junior champion.

Italians Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini won both pairs’ programs and qualified for their first Grand Prix Final.

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara and Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier headline the Final. Both pairs won each of their Grand Prix starts earlier this fall. The Japanese have the world’s two best scores this season. The Americans are reigning world champions.

At least one Russian or Chinese pair made every Grand Prix Final podium — usually pairs from both countries — but neither nation competed in pairs this Grand Prix season. All Russian skaters are banned due to the war in Ukraine. China’s lone entry on the Grand Prix across all disciplines was an ice dance couple.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier improved on their world-leading score for this season in winning the ice dance by 17.03 points over Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. Both couples qualified for the Grand Prix Final in the absence of all three Olympic medalists this fall.

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Lara Gut-Behrami wins Killington giant slalom, and the overall title race may be on

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Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami rallied from third place after the first run for her 35th career World Cup victory, taking a giant slalom in Killington, Vermont, on Saturday.

Gut-Behrami, 31, earned her fifth World Cup giant slalom win and first in six years. She prevailed by .07 of a second over Italian Marta Bassino combining times from two windy runs. Sweden’s Sara Hector, the Olympic champion and first-run leader, ended up third.

“Last two years I’ve been getting better in GS again,” said Gut-Behrami, who won the GS at the last world championships in 2021. “Last year I was struggling with my health. I was all the time sick.”

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Gut-Behrami’s best events are downhill and super-G, so a strong start to the season in GS could put her on a path to winning the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing. She previously lifted that crystal globe in 2016.

Reigning World Cup overall champ Mikaela Shiffrin, who previously placed second, third, fourth and fifth in Killington giant slaloms, finished 13th after winning the season’s first two races, slaloms in Finland last week. It marked her lowest World Cup GS finish since December 2019.

“[Finland] was a spectacular weekend,” Shiffrin, who has not had much recent GS training, said after her 10th-place opening run Saturday. “Every race is a different story.”

Shiffrin won all five World Cup slaloms in Killington dating to 2016 and will go for her 50th career World Cup slalom victory across all venues on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC and Peacock).

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