Pernille Blume, Olympic swimming champion, retires

Pernille Blume
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Pernille Blume, the surprise 2016 Olympic 50m freestyle champion from Denmark, retired from swimming at age 28.

“It has been a long journey coming to my decision and it has been some somewhat an emotional ride,” was posted on Blume’s social media. “Although it is hard and difficult to say goodbye to something I love so much, then it is also equally exciting and thrilling to think about a new chapter is about to unfold in my life.”

Blume entered the 2016 Rio Games ranked 10th in the world that year in the 50m free, according to FINA. Yet she was fastest in the preliminary heats and the semifinals before winning the final in 24.07 seconds, edging American Simone Manuel by two hundredths.

It was Denmark’s first Olympic swimming title in 68 years.

She placed fourth in the 50m free at the world championships in 2017 and 2019, lowering her national record in 2017.

In January 2019, Blume underwent surgery to close a small hole in her heart.

She earned 50m free bronze at her third and final Olympics in Tokyo. She did not compete at the world championships this past summer.

Blume and French Olympic champion swimmer Florent Manaudou announced their engagement in September 2021.

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Mikaela Shiffrin skips Lake Louise speed races with different World Cup schedule

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Mikaela Shiffrin will not race downhills and a super-G in Lake Louise, Alberta, this weekend, skipping the traditional first speed races of the World Cup season for the first time since 2014 to focus on training her primary events of slalom and giant slalom.

Shiffrin decided before the season began that she would not race Lake Louise, a representative said. A reason: For the first time in six years, tech races rather than speed races in Europe are scheduled for the weekend following Lake Louise.

Shiffrin’s schedule for now includes the next speed races in St. Moritz, Switzerland, from Dec. 16-18, but that may change.

For the first time in her career, Shiffrin won her first two races of the season, taking slaloms on back-to-back days in Levi, Finland, two weekends ago.

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This past weekend, she placed 13th and fifth in a GS and a slalom in Killington, Vermont. In five previous trips to Killington, she finished second, third, fourth and fifth in the GS and won all five of the slaloms.

“There are positives to take away from the races and positives about my skiing,” Shiffrin posted on social media. “I know the direction I need to work in GS, and I just need a few days to get that repetition. With slalom, I also have a bit of a direction as well.

“It’s easy for people to say that I won in Levi and that I’m back and I’m going to win everything now again…it’s not really the case. There are women who are skiing better than I am, and on any given day any one of us have the capability to win.”

Shiffrin has raced more downhills and super-Gs in Lake Louise than any other World Cup venue. She made her World Cup super-G debut there in 2015 and her World Cup downhill debut there in 2016 and earned her first World Cup downhill win there in 2017 and first World Cup super-G win there in 2018.

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Anna Shcherbakova, Olympic figure skating champion, extends competition absence

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Olympic figure skating champion Anna Shcherbakova will miss the Russian Championships because she has not fully recovered from August knee surgery, a representative for the skater said Tuesday.

Shcherbakova, 18, has been sidelined from competition since the surgery. All Russian skaters are banned from international competition due to the war in Ukraine, but Russia has been holding domestic events with its top skaters.

Shcherbakova will take part in non-competitive skating shows in December, first at a World Cup fan zone in Qatar and later a show in Russia that takes place during the national championships, according to Russian media. Shcherbakova’s representative did not address her show plans when confirming her absence from nationals.

Russia is scheduled to hold its national championships the week of Christmas, as usual. That event usually determines its team for March’s world championships, though there is no indication that the ban on Russian skaters will be lifted any time soon to make them eligible for worlds.

Since Russian skaters were banned from competing at last March’s worlds, they were unable to qualify more than the minimum one entry per discipline for the next worlds for which they will be eligible.

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