Mikaela Shiffrin fifth in expected-to-be last race before Olympics

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SAN VIGILIO DI MAREBBE, Italy — After waiting seven years for a second World Cup win, Sara Hector now has three more victories in giant slalom — and they could not have come at a better time with the Winter Olympics starting next week.

Hector won the final World Cup GS on Tuesday before the Beijing Olympics, with 2018 gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin in fifth.

Hector was second after the opening run but overtook defending overall champion Petra Vlhova for her second straight GS victory, and her third this season. Her only previous World Cup win had been in December 2014.

The Swedish skier let out a scream after crossing the line 0.15 seconds ahead of Vlhova on a clear and cold day at Kronplatz mountain in the Dolomites.

“Crazy! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw I was that fast when I came to the finish. Incredible,” Hector said. “There are so many good skiers I’m definitely not unbeatable. But now I’ve been fast so that’s really, really cool.”

ALPINE SKIING WORLD CUP: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Tessa Worley of France was third, 0.52 behind Hector and just ahead of Federica Brignone. Shiffrin was 0.81 slower than Hector and slipped to third in the giant slalom standings.

Hector leads the standings ahead of Worley by 95 points. The 29-year-old puts her improvement down to developing a better understanding of her needs.

“I think for me the most important is to really feel calm…so I can focus. I’m easily wound up and then I’m having problems,” Hector said.

“It took me a long time to understand what I need. Now I know much more about what I need and that’s been cool to find out.”

Hector, 10th in the 2018 Olympic GS, won three of the last four World Cup GS races after the reigning Olympic champion Shiffrin won the first two this season.

Before this season, Hector had one World Cup podium since the start of 2015.

Shiffrin goes into the Olympics ranked second in the World Cup in slalom (behind Vlhova) and third in GS (behind Hector and Worley, though she would likely be ahead of Worley if she didn’t miss one GS due to COVID).

Shiffrin has said her plan is to race all five individual events at the Olympics, where the first women’s race is the GS on Feb. 7.

Her best shot at gold appears to be the combined, which is not on the World Cup calendar this season. Shiffrin won the combined at last season’s world championships.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves to Garmisch-Partenkirchen for speed races on Saturday and Sunday, live on Peacock.

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WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona World Championships women’s pro race

Ironman Kona World Championship
Ironman
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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U.S. men’s gymnastics team named for world championships

Asher Hong
Allison and John Cheng/USA Gymnastics
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Asher Hong, Colt Walker and world pommel horse champion Stephen Nedoroscik were named to the last three spots on the U.S. men’s gymnastics team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Brody Malone and Donnell Whittenburg earned the first spots on the team by placing first and second in the all-around at August’s U.S. Championships.

Hong, Walker and Nedoroscik were chosen by a committee after two days of selection camp competition in Colorado Springs this week. Malone and Whittenburg did not compete at the camp.

Hong, 18, will become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009. He nearly earned a spot on the team at the U.S. Championships, but erred on his 12th and final routine of that meet to drop from second to third in the all-around. At this week’s camp, Hong had the lowest all-around total of the four men competing on all six apparatuses, but selectors still chose him over Tokyo Olympians Yul Moldauer and Shane Wiskus.

Walker, a Stanford junior, will make his world championships debut. He would have placed second at nationals in August if a bonus system for attempting difficult skills wasn’t in place. With that bonus system not in place at the selection camp, he had the highest all-around total. The bonus system is not used at international meets such as world championships.

Nedoroscik rebounded from missing the Tokyo Olympic team to become the first American to win a world title on pommel horse last fall. Though he is the lone active U.S. male gymnast with a global gold medal, he was in danger of missing this five-man team because of struggles on the horse at the U.S. Championships. Nedoroscik, who does not compete on the other five apparatuses, put up his best horse routine of the season on the last day of the selection camp Wednesday.

Moldauer, who tweeted that he was sick all last week, was named the traveling alternate for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. It would be the first time that Moldauer, who was fourth in the all-around at last fall’s worlds, does not compete at worlds since 2015.

Though the U.S. has not made the team podium at an Olympics or worlds since 2014, it is boosted this year by the absence of Olympic champion Russia, whose athletes are banned indefinitely due to the war in Ukraine. In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

The U.S. women’s world team of five will be announced after a selection camp in two weeks. Tokyo Olympians Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles are in contention.

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