New York City Marathon preview: U.S. stars are underdogs to cap epic marathon season

Galen Rupp
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The fall marathon season already produced the men’s world record, the second-fastest women’s time ever and the women’s American record. And it’s not over yet.

The New York City Marathon, the world’s largest annual major marathon with more than 50,000 finishers (before COVID-19 restriction years), is Sunday.

New York City produces fewer record times due to the hilly course and lack of pacers. The world’s top marathoners, including world record holders Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, are absent.

But it once again has the most decorated American fields of the fall marathons.

It could find a way to deliver a newsworthy follow-up to September’s Berlin Marathon, where Kipchoge lowered his world record by 30 seconds, and October’s Chicago Marathon, where Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich missed the women’s world record by 14 seconds and Emily Sisson took 43 seconds off the American record.

Galen Rupp, a two-time Olympic medalist and the last American man to win a major marathon (Chicago 2017), makes his debut in the five-borough race.

Rupp, 36, placed 19th in July’s world championships in his native Oregon, stopping four or five times in the last several miles while not at his best physically. He missed training time before worlds due to a herniated disk and pinched nerve in his back. He said Thursday that he feels a lot better now but sometimes has a “bad day.”

“My leg just doesn’t work right sometimes,” Rupp said at a press conference, referencing his nerve problems. “Those are the days where it’s like, we’ve got to just back off, do some more exercises, stretch things out, get it treated. … It sounds bad, I guess, when I’m hearing myself talk about it right now, but things have really, the last couple of weeks, have been going all right.”

The last U.S. male runner to win New York City was Meb Keflezighi in 2009. This race includes four of the five fastest active American men (Rupp, Leonard Korir, Scott Fauble and Abdi Abdirahman, a 45-year-old, five-time Olympian in his final marathon.)

The favorites are Kenyans Evans Chebet, the reigning Boston Marathon champion, and Albert Korir, the defending New York City champion. Kenyan men won the first five annual major marathons this year (Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago) and on Sunday can complete the first sweep since 2011 (before Tokyo was added as a major).

U.S. women face similar long odds at a win, but their chances improved on Oct. 14. That’s when defending champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya withdrew citing an unspecified injury. On the same day as that announcement, Keira D’Amato, the second-fastest American in history, was announced as a field addition.

Still, the favorites are Kenyans (Hellen Obiri, a two-time Olympic 5000m silver medalist in her marathon debut, and 42-year-old Edna Kiplagat) and Ethiopians (world champion Gotytom Gebreslase and debutant Senbere Teferi) as well as Kenyan-born Israeli Lonah Salpeter.

D’Amato races her third marathon in the last 16 weeks. Des Linden, the last U.S. woman to win a major marathon (Boston 2018), is now 39 and looking for her first marathon top-10 since placing fourth at the February 2020 Olympic Trials. Aliphine Tuliamuk, the Olympic Trials winner, races her first marathon since dropping out of the Olympics seven months after childbirth.

“The New York City Marathon course is an equalizer,” Tuliamuk said in a press conference. “I’m not intimidated by people who have run faster than me.”

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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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