Jennifer Valente follows historic Olympic cycling gold with world title in omnium

Jennifer Valente
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Jennifer Valente, who in Tokyo became the first U.S. woman to win Olympic track cycling gold, added a world title in the same event, the omnium, on Friday.

“I achieved the Olympic dream before this one, but this really had been on the forefront of my mind for a long time,” she said, according to USA Cycling.

Valente, 27, prevailed at the world championships in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France, one day after taking bronze in a separate elimination race, which is not on the Olympic program.

The omnium, which debuted at the Olympics in 2012, is an event consisting of four races that take place on the same day: the scratch race, the tempo race, the elimination race and the points race. For the first three races, riders earn 40 points for a win, 38 for second and 36 for third and on down a descending scale.

In the final 80-lap points race, points are awarded for a sprint every 10 laps, including double points for the last sprint. Cyclists also gain and lose points by lapping the field or getting lapped.

Valente led by eight points over Dutchwoman Maike van der Duin going into the points race. She ended up winning by nine over van der Duin.

Valente, who took world championships bronze in the event in 2019, is the second American to win a world omnium title after Sarah Hammer in 2013 and 2014 (the last time an American won a world title in an individual track cycling event on the Olympic program).

Valente previously won four world titles in the team pursuit.

“The team gold medal is special in a completely different way,” Valente said, according to USA Cycling. “Every team world title that I’ve won has been with a really special group of people. But this is just a completely different experience.”

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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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