Alpine skiing World Cup Finals: Surprise winner in last women’s slalom of season

Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup - Women's Slalom

MERIBEL, France — Mikaela Shiffrin already got the overall World Cup title. Petra Vlhová had the Olympic and World Cup titles in slalom. Maybe that left space for a surprise Saturday.

Andreja Slokar stepped up with a career-best result to win the slalom at the World Cup Finals meeting in the sunny French Alps.

The 24-year-old Slovenian skier finished 0.48 seconds ahead of Lena Dürr, who let another first-run lead slip as she did at the Beijing Olympics last month.

WORLD CUP FINALS: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Vlhová, who won five of the previous eight World Cup slalom races, was 0.81 back in third.

Shiffrin had been fifth-fastest in the morning then dropped to finish eighth, 1.48 back. Only Slokar among the contenders found their speed on a second-run surface that degraded under a warming sun.

The 18-year-old world junior champion, Zrinka Ljutic of Croatia, also excelled in the afternoon to finish fifth.

Slokar had won a parallel racing on the World Cup circuit in November, though never finished better than fourth in slalom during her career.

Her fifth-place finish at the Olympics, just 0.10 out of the medals, also hinted at her potential.

It was another disappointment for Dürr, who still seeks a victory after more than 100 starts in World Cup slaloms.

The 30-year-old German could not retain a 0.37 lead from the morning — and a 0.75 advantage over Slokar — though at least earned her fourth podium finish this season in slaloms. In China, her first-run lead slipped to a fourth place just 0.07 away from the bronze medal.

After the race, Vlhová was presented with the small crystal globe trophy for topping the slalom standings. She also won it in 2020.

Shiffrin will be presented with her fourth giant crystal globe as overall champion on Sunday, after the giant slalom that ends the women’s season.

She and Vlhová are in a four-way contest for the giant slalom discipline title with Olympic champion Sara Hector and two-time world champion Tessa Worley.

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

Lucas Braathen

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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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

Sifan Hassan

Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”

Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”

London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.

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