Oksana Masters ties U.S. record for most Winter Paralympic medals

Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics - Day 8
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Oksana Masters won her sixth medal in six biathlon or cross-country skiing events at the Paralympics this week, tying the U.S. record for most career Winter Paralympic medals.

Masters, a 32-year-old born in Ukraine, took silver in her last individual event of the Games, 37.2 seconds behind China’s Yang Hongqiong in a 7.5km cross-country race. It marked the lone U.S. medal on the penultimate day of competition in China.

Masters earned her 13th Winter Paralympic medal between biathlon and cross-country skiing over the last three Games. She tied Alpine skiers Sarah Billmeier and Sarah Will for the U.S. Winter Paralympic medals record. She also tied the U.S. record for most Winter Paralympic medals at a single Games, set by fellow Nordic skier Dan Cnossen in 2018.

Masters could break both records if she is put on a relay on Sunday.

PARALYMPICS: Broadcast Schedule | Team USA medal count | Viewer Guide | FAQs

The Paralympics have six sports. Three of them have more than two medal events on the current program — Alpine skiing, biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Also Saturday, Canadian Brian McKeever won his 16th gold medal in cross-country skiing, tying the men’s record for Winter Paralympic titles held by German Gerd Schönfelder, an Alpine skier who competed in six Winter Games from 1992-2010.

McKeever, 42, has won all 12 of his individual Paralympic cross-country races over the last four Games. He has said he plans to retire after these his sixth Games.

“I think if we end up back here trying to race in four years, we’ll be coming in on canes,” he joked. “We’ll probably be back, but I’m sure in more coaching and waxing roles.”

The Paralympics close on Sunday, highlighted by a U.S.-Canada matchup in the sled hockey final. The U.S. goes for a fourth consecutive title.

ON HER TURF: In sled hockey, coed in name only, women  build their own Paralympic pipeline

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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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