IOC calls for no sports events in Belarus, Russia; ski World Cups in Russia canceled

2018/19 FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup: ski cross
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The International Olympic Committee Executive Board urged all international federations to relocate or cancel their sports events currently planned in Russia and Belarus.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, a move supported by the government of Belarus.

The IOC board said both nations violated the Olympic Truce, which calls for peace over a period from seven days before the Olympics through seven days after the Paralympics. The Paralympics open next Friday and run through March 13.

“[Federations] should take the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian and Belarussian governments into account and give the safety and security of the athletes absolute priority,” the IOC said in a statement.

The board also urged for the Russian and Belarussian flags and anthems to be outlawed from international sports events. The Russian flag and anthem are already banned from major championships into mid-December 2022 over the nation’s doping offenses.

Earlier Friday, the International Ski Federation (FIS) said it will not hold any World Cup events in Russia for the rest of this season.

Competitions in cross-country skiing, freestyle skiing and ski jumping will be relocated or canceled. Russia was scheduled to host six World Cup stops through the end of March.

The decision was made “in the interest of the safety of all participants and to maintain the integrity of the World Cup,” according to a FIS press release.

Before the decision, a World Cup ski cross event began on Friday in Sunny Valley, Russia, along the Ural Mountains. It was canceled after the qualification round, where 72 skiers from 13 nations were listed as “did not start.” The 13 skiers who did start were all Russian.

Aerials World Cups scheduled in Russia this Saturday and Sunday and the following weekend will not be held. The cross-country World Cup Finals were scheduled for Tyumen from March 18-20. Women’s ski jumping World Cups in Russia were slated for the last two weekends of March.

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Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

Mikaela Shiffrin
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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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