Mariah Bell moves on from competitive figure skating

Mariah Bell
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Mariah Bell, who last season became the oldest U.S. women’s figure skating champion in 95 years and made her first Olympic team at age 25, announced she is ending her competitive career.

“All good things must come to an end and I am so lucky I am ending with my love of skating at an all time high,” Bell wrote on social media. “See you on the ice again but now just for the fun of shows.”

Bell endured by winning her first national title in her ninth senior nationals appearance, a record wait in women’s singles, before placing 10th at the Olympics and fourth at the world championships.

She did not enter this fall’s Grand Prix Series while deciding her competitive future.

After winning the 2013 U.S. junior silver medal, she had her senior breakout three years later: a runner-up at Skate America, two months after moving from Colorado to California to train under Rafael Arutunian.

She was fifth at the 2018 U.S. Championships, missing that three-woman Olympic team. Bell rebounded to place third and second at the next two nationals, including a mesmerizing “Hallelujah” free skate at the latter after adding Adam Rippon to her coaching team.

After not making the 2021 World Championships team, she rebounded again to win the 2022 national title and become the oldest U.S. Olympic women’s singles skater since 1928.

“If you have a dream, there is no limit on the time you have to achieve that dream,” Bell said at nationals.

Bell is the second woman from the three-woman U.S. Olympic team to announce the end of her competitive career after Alysa LiuKaren Chen, the third member of the team, is not competing this fall while returning to classes at Cornell and has not announced if or when she will compete again.

Bell is the first U.S. woman to leave competitive skating rather than defend a national title since Sasha Cohen in 2007 and the first to outright end her competitive career as national champion in three decades.

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Olympic flame to travel by sea for Paris 2024, welcomed by armada

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024
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The Olympic flame will travel from Athens to Marseille by ship in spring 2024 to begin the France portion of the torch relay that ends in Paris on July 26, 2024.

The torch relay always begins in the ancient Olympic site of Olympia, Greece, where the sun’s rays light the flame. It will be passed by torch until it reaches Athens.

It will then cross the Mediterranean Sea aboard the Belem, a three-masted ship, “reminiscent of a true Homeric epic,” according to Paris 2024. It will arrive at the Old Port of Marseille, welcomed by an armada of boats.

Marseille is a former Greek colony and the oldest city in France. It will host sailing and some soccer matches during the Paris Olympics.

The full 2024 Olympic torch relay route will be unveiled in May.

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Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024

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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