Gustav Iden wins Ironman Kona World Championship, smashes course record

Gustav Iden
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Gustav Iden won the Ironman Kona World Championship in a course record time, becoming the second consecutive Norwegian to win the men’s world title and the first to do so in Kona.

Iden, 26, clocked an unofficial 7 hours, 40 minutes, 24 seconds for the 140.6-mile race (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run) with temperatures in the 80s on the Big Island of Hawaii.

“That was so freakin’ hard,” Iden said. “The last 10K, I was worried about the legend of the island killing me. … The island really, really tried to put me down, but I think my heart must be stronger than the legend of the island. That was so, so epic.”

He crushed the course record of 7:51:13 set by German Jan Frodeno the last time Kona held the event in 2019. The race was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. The 2021 edition was postponed to this past May and moved to St. George, Utah, where another Norwegian, Kristian Blummenfelt, prevailed.

The men’s course record has been lowered at the last four editions of Kona dating to 2017. Going into the 2017 race, the course record was 8:03:56.

IRONMAN KONA: Results

Iden also broke the course record for the marathon run, covering the roads in 2:36:15 and becoming the first person in race history to average sub-six-minute-mile pace. The previous run record was 2:39:45, set by German Patrick Lange in 2016.

Iden needed a strong run. He trailed Frenchman Sam Laidlow by 6 minutes, 15 seconds, after the bike. Laidlow, 23, broke the bike course record by covering the 112 miles in 4:04:36. Iden passed Laidlow in the 22nd mile of the run.

Laidlow held for second place, two minutes behind Iden. Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic champion, was third. The top four men all went faster than the 140.6-mile course record.

Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, became the first man to win in his Kona debut since Belgian Luc Van Lierde in 1996. Van Lierde was the first European man or woman to win Kona (which began in 1978). Iden is the ninth consecutive European man to win the Ironman world title.

Iden, eighth in the Tokyo Olympic triathlon, became the youngest man to win Kona since 1982.

“I’m not sure if I’m coming back here,” Iden said. “This was too hard.”

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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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