Lilly King sweeps breaststrokes at swimming trials; Lydia Jacoby edged out of worlds spot

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Lilly King completed a sweep of the breaststrokes at the world swimming championships trials, while fellow gold medalist Lydia Jacoby missed a spot on the world team by nine hundredths of a second.

King, the 2016 Olympic champion and world-record holder, won the 100m breast in 1:05.67 in Greensboro, N.C., on Friday night. She previously won the 50m and 200m breast events, setting up a busy schedule at June’s worlds in Budapest.

She’s joined on the world team by training partner Annie Lazor, who made it in her last shot after placing third in her primary event, the 200m breast, earlier this week. Lazor, who was .45 behind King, edged NCAA champion Kaitlyn Dobler of USC by .07 and Jacoby by .09 for the second and final spot on the world team in the 100m breast.

“In every breaststroke race, it seems like the top three in the world are the top three in the U.S.,” said King, who took bronze in Tokyo and ranks second in the world this year behind Reona Aoki of Japan. “It’s pretty crazy and getting a lot more competitive than it used to be.”

The worlds field will be without Olympic silver medalist Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa, who is prioritizing the Commonwealth Games later this summer. The fourth- and fifth-place finishers from the Olympics are both from Russia, so they’ll be absent, too, due to the nation’s ban.

U.S. SWIMMING TRIALS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Jacoby, the Alaska high schooler who stunned for 100m breast gold in Tokyo, took third, fourth and fifth in the three breaststrokes this week with personal bests in the 50m and 200m. The 18-year-old is expected to matriculate at the University of Texas later this year, competing collegiately while taking advantage of name, image and likeness deals.

The U.S. has never carried over all of its individual Olympic gold medalists to the following year’s world championships. In 2017, Anthony Ervin didn’t make it. In 2013, Allison Schmitt didn’t qualify.

“I told her good job,” King said of Jacoby. “That’s tough. It is definitely a setback, but she has a bright future ahead of her.

“I know, especially from personal experience, that the year after the Olympics, it’s really hard. And I can’t imagine going back to high school the year after the Olympics.”

In other events Friday, Katie Ledecky extended an eight-year domestic win streak in freestyle races 200m or longer by taking the 400m in 3:59.52, supplanting Australian rival Ariarne Titmus as fastest in the world this year. Ledecky won the 200m and 800m earlier this week and has one event left, the 1500m, on Saturday. Titmus is skipping worlds to focus on Commonwealths.

Olympic bronze medalist Kieran Smith, who now trains with Ledecky, won the men’s 400m free.

Triple 2016 Olympic champion Ryan Murphy was beaten by an American in a 100m backstroke for the first time in four years. He finished second behind Hunter Armstrong, who on Thursday broke the world record in the 50m back, which is not an Olympic event.

Murphy will swim both the 100m and 200m back at worlds, having won the 200m earlier this week.

Former world-record holder Regan Smith swam the fastest time ever in an American pool, 57.76 seconds, to win the women’s 100m back over Claire Curzan. Curzan, a 17-year-old from nearby Cary, qualified for her fourth individual event in her third different stroke.

Like King, Nic Fink qualified for all three breaststrokes after winning the men’s 100m breast by .14 over Michael Andrew. Cody Miller, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, was sixth.

Trials finish Saturday, highlighted by Caeleb Dressel in the 50m free.

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Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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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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