Mikaela Shiffrin on brink of World Cup overall title after first downhill win in two years

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Mikaela Shiffrin moved closer to her fourth World Cup overall title by notching her first downhill victory in two years, prevailing at the World Cup Finals in Courchevel, France, on Wednesday.

Shiffrin, in her 15th career World Cup downhill start, earned her third career downhill win and 74th World Cup victory across all disciplines. She trailed at all but the last intermediate split, then crossed the finish line one tenth ahead of Austrian Christine Scheyer and Swiss Joana Haehlen.

WORLD CUP FINALS: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Shiffrin covered her mouth in an act of speechlessness. Moments later, she embraced boyfriend Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, the Norwegian who won the men’s downhill season title two hours earlier.

“Are you kidding me? That was amazing,” Kilde told her. “How did you actually do that?”

Shiffrin said she benefited from talking downhill course strategy with Kilde earlier this week. Shiffrin, whose best finish in three previous downhills this season was 18th, said she considered not racing the event at Finals, where all four disciplines are contested in a five-days span.

Then she was fastest in Tuesday’s training run.

“I’m supposed to not be winning downhills,” she said. “I’m not a downhill skier right now. I mean, I have great pieces, but it takes a lot of thought, a lot of work, a lot of effort. And some of the things that, for many of the other women comes natural, is not coming natural for me.”

Shiffrin upped her lead in the standings for the overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing, from 56 points to 156 points over Slovakian rival Petra Vlhova. Vlhova, the Olympic slalom gold medalist, was 16th on Wednesday in her worst discipline, scoring zero points.

A race winner receives 100 points, with 80 for second, 60 for third and 50 for fourth on a descending scale through the 15th skier. Vlhova must average making up more than 50 points per race on Shiffrin in the final three races to overtake her, starting with Thursday’s super-G.

The overall title goes to the best racer by combining results from races in all disciplines over the 37-race season that started in October. Shiffrin is trying to tie Lindsey Vonn for second place in women’s history with four titles, trailing only Austrian legend Annemarie Moser-Pröll, who won six in the 1970s.

Shiffrin ranks third in World Cup history with 74 wins, trailing Vonn (82) and Swede Ingemar Stenmark (86). She also joined Anja Pärson, Marc Girardelli and Bode Miller as skiers to win at least three times each in the primary disciplines of downhill, super-G, giant slalom and slalom.

Wednesday marked Shiffrin’s first victory since the Olympics, where her best individual finish was ninth among five races. Three times this season Shiffrin came back from significant adversity to top a World Cup podium, also including a back injury in October and November and a COVID quarantine over Christmas.

Earlier Wednesday, Swiss Marco Odermatt clinched his first overall title by finishing second in the downhill behind Austrian Vincent Kriechmayr.

Odermatt, 24, upped an already comfortable 329-point lead to an insurmountable 359 points over Kilde with three races left.

Kilde, by finishing fourth Wednesday, clinched his first downhill season title.

He came into the finals with a 23-point lead in the discipline standings over Swiss Olympic gold medalist Beat Feuz, who finished third, gaining 10 points on the Norwegian. Feuz would have passed Kilde with a second-place finish.

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Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Olympic 400m champion, announces pregnancy

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Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the two-time reigning Olympic 400m champion, announced she is pregnant with her first child.

“New Year, New Blessing,” she posted on social media with husband Maicel Uibo, the 2019 World Championships silver medalist in the decathlon for Estonia. “We can’t wait to meet our little bundle of joy.”

Miller-Uibo, 28, followed her repeat Olympic title in Tokyo by winning her first world indoor and outdoor titles last year.

Also last year, Miller-Uibo said she planned to drop the 400m and focus on the 200m going into the 2024 Paris Games rather than possibly bid to become the first woman to win the same individual Olympic running event three times.

She has plenty of experience in the 200m, making her world championships debut in that event in 2013 and placing fourth. She earned 200m bronze at the 2017 Worlds, was the world’s fastest woman in the event in 2019 and petitioned for a Tokyo Olympic schedule change to make a 200m-400m double easier. The petition was unsuccessful.

She did both races anyway, finishing last in the 200m final, 1.7 seconds behind the penultimate finisher on the same day of the 400m first round.

She did not race the 200m at last July’s worlds, where the 200m and 400m overlapped.

Notable moms to win individual Olympic sprint titles include American Wilma Rudolph, who swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 1960 Rome Olympics two years after having daughter Yolanda.

And Dutchwoman Fanny Blankers-Koen, who won four gold medals at the 1948 London Olympics, when the mother of two also held world records in the high jump and long jump, two events in which she didn’t compete at those Games.

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Germany goes 1-2 at bobsled worlds; Kaillie Humphries breaks medals record

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Kim Kalicki and Lisa Buckwitz gave Germany a one-two in the world bobsled championships two-woman event, while American Kaillie Humphries earned bronze to break the career medals record.

Kalicki, who was fourth at last year’s Olympics and leads this season’s World Cup standings, edged Buckwitz by five hundredths of a second combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Humphries, with push athlete Kaysha Love, was 51 hundredths behind.

Olympic champion Laura Nolte was in third place after two runs but crashed in the third run.

Humphries, 37 and a three-time Olympic champion between two-woman and monobob, earned her eighth world championships medal in the two-woman event. That broke her tie for the record of seven with retired German Sandra Kiriasis. Humphries is also the most decorated woman in world championships monobob, taking gold and silver in the two times it has been contested.

Humphries rolled her ankle after the first day of last week’s monobob, plus took months off training in the offseason while also doing two rounds of IVF.

“I chose to continue the IVF journey through the season which included a Lupron Depot shot the day before this race began,” she posted after her monobob silver last weekend. “My weight and body fluctuating all year with hormones, it was a battle to find my normal while competing again. I’m happy with this result, I came into it wanting a podium and we achieved it as a team.”

Love, who was seventh with Humphries in the Olympic two-woman event, began her transition to become a driver after the Games.

Worlds finish Sunday with the final two runs of the four-man event.

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