Mikaela Shiffrin takes lead into World Cup Finals; winter sports TV, live stream schedule

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Mikaela Shiffrin duels with rival Petra Vlhova for the biggest annual prize in ski racing, live on on Peacock this week.

Alpine skiing’s World Cup Finals headline the winter sports schedule as seasons wind down.

At the Finals in France, the men and women race once in each of the four disciplines — downhill, super-G, giant slalom and slalom — to close out the campaign.

Crystal globes are awarded to the top skier over the course of the season in each discipline, plus a larger crystal globe for the overall champions combining results from all 37 races dating to October.

Most of the crystal globes are already clinched — men’s super-G (Aleksander Aamodt Kilde) and giant slalom (Marco Odermatt), women’s super-G (Federica Brignone) and slalom (Petra Vlhova) — or nearly clinched — men’s overall (Odermatt) and women’s downhill (Sofia Goggia).

The women’s overall is the most compelling storyline of the five-day finals. Shiffrin has a 56-point lead over Vlhova with four races left, meaning it could come down to the final race of the season on Sunday.

Race winners receive 100 points, with second place getting 80 and third getting 60 on a descending scale through 15th place at the Finals. Shiffrin will look to pad that cushion in the downhill and super-G, eyeing a fourth overall title to match Lindsey Vonn for second in women’s history.

The best route for Vlhova, who last year became the first Slovakian to win the overall, is to win the slalom on Saturday and giant slalom on Sunday and hope Shiffrin misses a podium or two in those technical events.

Elsewhere, the world women’s curling championship begins in Canada.

Both Scotland and the U.S. entered their reigning national champion teams, which means the field does not include Olympic champion Eve Muirhead‘s foursome, since the Scottish Championships began without Muirhead the day after the Olympics.

Nor does it include the U.S. Olympic team skipped by Tabitha Peterson, which last year won the nation’s first women’s world medal (bronze) in 15 years. Cory Christensen‘s team, runner-up at the Olympic Trials, won the most recent national championship in May 2021.

Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals — Courchevel/Meribel, France

Day Time (ET) Event Platform
Wednesday 5 a.m. Men’s Downhill Peacock | STREAM LINK
6:30 a.m. Women’s Downhill Peacock | STREAM LINK
Thursday 5 a.m. Women’s Super-G Peacock | STREAM LINK
6:30 a.m. Men’s Super-G Peacock | STREAM LINK
Friday 7 a.m. Mixed Team Parallel Peacock | STREAM LINK
Saturday 4 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom Run 1 Peacock | STREAM LINK
5:30 a.m. Women’s Slalom Run 1 Peacock | STREAM LINK
7 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom Run 2 Peacock | STREAM LINK
8:30 a.m. Women’s Slalom Run 2 Peacock | STREAM LINK
Sunday 4 a.m. Women’s Giant Slalom Run 1 Peacock | STREAM LINK
5:30 a.m. Men’s Slalom Run 1 Peacock | STREAM LINK
7 a.m. Women’s Giant Slalom Run 2 Peacock | STREAM LINK
8:30 a.m. Men’s Slalom Run 2 Peacock | STREAM LINK

Women’s Curling World Championship — Prince George, British Columbia, Canada

Day Time (ET) Event Platform
Saturday 5 p.m. USA vs. Czech Republic Olympic Channel | STREAM LINK
Sunday 10 p.m. USA vs. Japan Olympic Channel | STREAM LINK

Biathlon World Cup — Oslo, Norway

Day Time (ET) Event Platform
Thursday 10:35 a.m. Women’s Sprint Peacock | STREAM LINK
Friday 10:35 a.m. Men’s Sprint Peacock | STREAM LINK
Saturday 7:42 a.m. Women’s Pursuit Peacock | STREAM LINK
9:50 a.m. Men’s Pursuit Peacock | STREAM LINK
Sunday 7:40 a.m. Women’s Mass Start Peacock | STREAM LINK
9:50 a.m. Men’s Mass Start Peacock | STREAM LINK

Ski Jumping World Cup — Oberstdorf, Germany

Day Time (ET) Event Platform
Friday 12:15 p.m. Men Qualifying Peacock | STREAM LINK
Saturday 11 a.m. Men Peacock | STREAM LINK
Sunday 11 a.m. Men Peacock | STREAM LINK

Freestyle Skiing World Cup — Megeve, France (Moguls) and Veysonnaz, Switzerland (Ski Cross)

Day Time (ET) Event Platform
Friday 1 p.m. Moguls Peacock | STREAM LINK
Saturday 5 a.m. Ski Cross Peacock | STREAM LINK
10:40 a.m. Dual Moguls Peacock | STREAM LINK

Snowboarding World Cup — Rogla, Slovenia and Berchtesgaden, Germany (Alpine), Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic (Slopestyle) and Veysonnaz, Switzerland (Snowboard Cross)

Day Time (ET) Event Platform
Wednesday 8 a.m. Parallel Giant Slalom Peacock | STREAM LINK
Saturday 7 a.m. Slopestyle Peacock | STREAM LINK
7:45 a.m. Parallel Slalom Peacock | STREAM LINK
Sunday 6 a.m. Team Parallel Slalom Peacock | STREAM LINK
9:30 a.m. Snowboard Cross Peacock | STREAM LINK

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IOC looks for ways Russian athletes ‘who do not support war’ could compete as neutrals

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GENEVA (AP) — Russian athletes who do not endorse their country’s war in Ukraine could be accepted back into international sports, competing under a neutral flag, IOC president Thomas Bach said in an interview published Friday.

“It’s about having athletes with a Russian passport who do not support the war back in competition,” Bach told Italian daily Corriere della Sera, adding, “We have to think about the future.”

Most sports followed IOC advice in February and banned Russian teams and athletes from their events within days of the country’s military invasion of Ukraine.

With Russians starting to miss events that feed into qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics, an exile extending into next year could effectively become a wider ban from those Games.

In an interview in Rome, Bach hinted at IOC thinking after recent rounds of calls with Olympic stakeholders asked for views on Russia’s pathway back from pariah status.

“To be clear, it is not about necessarily having Russia back,” he said. “On the other hand — and here comes our dilemma — this war has not been started by the Russian athletes.”

Bach did not suggest how athletes could express opposition to the war when dissent and criticism of the Russian military risks jail sentences of several years.

Some Russian athletes publicly supported the war in March and are serving bans imposed by their sport’s governing body.

Olympic gold medalist swimmer Yevgeny Rylov appeared at a pro-war rally attended by Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Gymnast Ivan Kuliak displayed a pro-military “Z” symbol on his uniform at an international event.

Russian former international athletes are being called up for military service in the current mobilization, according to media reports. They include former heavyweight boxing champion Nikolai Valuev and soccer player Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.

Russians have continued to compete during the war as individuals in tennis and cycling, without national symbols such as flags and anthems, even when teams have been banned.

Bach told Corriere della Sera it was the IOC’s mission to be politically neutral and “to have the Olympic Games, and to have sport in general, as something that still unifies people and humanity.”

“For all these reasons, we are in a real dilemma at this moment with regard to the Russian invasion in Ukraine,” he suggested. “We also have to see, and to study, to monitor, how and when we can come back to accomplish our mission to have everybody back again, under which format whatsoever.”

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How did U.S. women’s basketball replace its legends? It starts with Alyssa Thomas.

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If this FIBA World Cup marks the beginning of a new era of U.S. women’s basketball, it is notable, if not remarkable, that no player has been more visible than Alyssa Thomas.

Thomas is making her global championship debut in Sydney. She is the only woman on the team in her 30s. Rarely, if ever, has a player who waited this long to put on a U.S. uniform made such an impact out of the gate. Certainly not since the last major tournament in Australia, when 30-year-old Yolanda Griffith starred at the 2000 Olympics.

Over the last week, Thomas leads the U.S. in minutes played and is one of two players to start all seven games along with Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP. She ranks fourth on the team in scoring (10.6 points per game), is tied for second in rebounding (6.7), second in assists (4.6) and first in steals (2.7).

The Americans, with their new breakthrough power forward, face China in Saturday’s final, seeking a fourth consecutive world title and 60th consecutive victory between Olympic and world championship play dating to 2006.

“She takes a lot of pressure off of us,” two-time WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson said after Thomas had 13 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in a quarterfinal win over Serbia. “I think she’s the glue of this team, the X-factor of this team, because that’s her game and that’s her style.”

Thomas earned the nickname “Baby Bron Bron” at the University of Maryland for her LeBron James-like play. USA Basketball took notice in 2013, when she was one of six collegians named to a 33-player national team training camp.

But that participation was the last of Thomas’ bullet points on her USA Basketball bio for another nine years, until she was named to the FIBA World Cup qualifying team last February.

Thomas had to wait her turn.

The U.S. was loaded in the frontcourt in the 2010s with more established players — Candace ParkerTina CharlesSylvia FowlesBrittney GrinerElena Delle Donne — and then Stewart and Wilson came along, becoming arguably the two most valuable Americans in the last Olympic cycle.

Thomas produced, to that point, the best WNBA season of her career in 2020, but tore an Achilles playing overseas in January 2021, ruling out any chance of making the Tokyo Olympic team. (Thomas was not in the 36-player national team pool at the time of her injury.)

The combination of players’ absences this year — Charles, after three Olympic golds, ceded to younger players, Fowles retired and Griner is being detained in Russia — and Cheryl Reeve becoming head coach created an opportunity.

Thomas seized it, leading the Connecticut Sun to the WNBA Finals, where she recorded triple-doubles in the last two games of a series loss to the Las Vegas Aces. Then she boarded a plane to Sydney for her first major international experience and has similarly flourished.

Jennifer Rizzotti, part of the USA Basketball selection committee, said the 6-foot-2 Thomas combines the movement of Lindsay Whalen, the passing of Parker and the physicality of Rebekkah Brunson. She plays with labrum tears in each shoulder. There’s no single player like her.

“There’s definitely some post players that have that point forward mentality, but not quite with the guard skills that Alyssa has,” Rizzotti said. “I don’t see anybody, including guards, that can do what she does in the open court. Then you talk about how disruptive she is defensively and her ability to guard one through five. A’ja can guard one through five, Stewie can guard one through five, but nobody’s as disruptive as Alyssa is. On the perimeter and off the ball.”

Thomas also fit what Reeve, who succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach, was looking for in retooling the roster following the retirement of Sue Bird and possible end of Diana Taurasi‘s national team career at age 40.

“[Reeve] made it clear that she was hoping with the guard turnover that we would be able to play faster, more athletically, more possessions in the game,” Rizzotti said. “And therefore, she wanted to have post players that could push tempo, that could facilitate and kind of fit in with a ball-handling, passing mentality from the trail spot.”

Still, Thomas did not expect to be putting on a USA jersey this year. “Shocked” is the word USA Basketball chose to describe her reaction to making this team.

“It was kind of a surprise,” she said, according to USA Basketball. “I had just really taken my name out of it.”

Rizzotti said Thomas is an example — a very successful one, it turns out — of an asset in the eyes of the selection committee: patience.

“I think a lot of players feel like if they don’t make the USA national team right away, it’s never going to happen,” she said. “You get the comments like, oh, it’s political, or they keep inviting the same guys back. And it’s not true.”

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