Mikaela Shiffrin moves closer to Lindsey Vonn record with 79th World Cup win

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Mikaela Shiffrin is up to 79 World Cup wins, three shy of Lindsey Vonn‘s female record, after giant slalom victories on consecutive days in Semmering, Austria.

Shiffrin prevailed by one tenth of a second over Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami, one day after edging Slovakian Petra Vlhova by 13 hundredths.

“Everybody counts the numbers,” Shiffrin said. “What does it mean to have 79 victories? I can’t answer that question because it’s been 12 or 13 years of racing and good races and bad races and highs and lows, and the last three years have been really difficult. So, it means a lot. Today, I just say it’s not 79, but it’s just one, and I’m really happy with it.”

Shiffrin trailed Gut-Behrami by 22 hundredths after Wednesday’s first run and rallied despite a brief loss of balance that cost her time late in her second run.

“Today I was a bit more nervous than yesterday because of yesterday. … After yesterday I felt like maybe I’m supposed to win, and any time I feel like that, I don’t win,” she said. “It was hard, so dark and some really big bumps.”

Gut-Behrami, last to go in the second run, lost all of her lead in the first split.

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Shiffrin, 27, has the third-most World Cup victories in history after Swede Ingemar Stenmark (86 wins) and Vonn (82). She tries for her 80th in a night slalom in Semmering on Thursday, live on Peacock.

“There’s a few women who can ski it faster than I can,” she said of the slalom. Shiffrin, the greatest slalom skier in history, is tied for first in this season’s slalom standings with Swiss Wendy Holdener.

She earned a 16th career World Cup giant slalom win Wednesday, tying for second in women’s history with Austrian Annemarie Moser-Pröll and Frenchwoman Tessa WorleyVreni Schneider, a Swiss star of the 1980s and ’90s, has the record of 20. Shiffrin already has the most World Cup slalom wins for a man or woman with 49.

Shiffrin won six of the last eight World Cup races held in Semmering dating to 2016.

This three-race Semmering stop begins a stretch of eight slaloms or giant slaloms — Shiffrin’s best events — over a 15-day stretch through Jan. 10, all at venues where Shiffrin won before.

Shiffrin has five wins in 11 starts this season and leads the standings for the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing, by 305 points through 14 of 39 scheduled races.

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Birk Irving, last man on Olympic team, extends breakout season with Mammoth win

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One year ago, Birk Irving was the last man to make the four-man U.S. Olympic ski halfpipe team. Since, he continued to climb the ranks in arguably the nation’s strongest discipline across skiing and snowboarding.

Irving earned his second World Cup win this season, taking the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, California, on Friday.

Irving posted a 94-point final run, edging Canadian Brendan Mackay by one point. David Wise, the two-time Olympic champion who won his fifth X Games Aspen title last Sunday, was third.

A tribute was held to 2015 World champion Kyle Smaine, a U.S. halfpipe skier who died in an avalanche in Japan last Sunday.

“We’re all skiing the best we have because we’re all skiing with Kyle in our hearts,” Irving said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “We’re skiing for him, and we know he’s looking down on us. We miss you Kyle. We love you. Thank you for keeping us safe in the pipe today.”

Irving also won the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado, on Dec. 17. Plus, the 23-year-old from Colorado had his best career X Games Aspen finish last Sunday, taking second.

The next major event is the world championships in Georgia (the country, not the state) in early March. Irving was third at the last worlds in 2021, then fifth at the Olympics last February.

The U.S. has been the strongest nation in men’s ski halfpipe since it debuted at the Olympics in 2014. Wise won the first two gold medals. Alex Ferreira won silver and bronze at the last two Olympics. Aaron Blunck is a world champion and X Games champion.

Irving is younger than all of them and has beaten all of them at multiple competitions this season.

New Zealand’s Nico Porteous, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, hasn’t competed since the Games after undergoing offseason knee surgery.

In snowboarding events at Mammoth, Americans Julia Marino and Lyon Farrell earned slopestyle wins by posting the top qualification scores. The finals were canceled due to wind.

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Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Olympic 400m champion, announces pregnancy

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Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the two-time reigning Olympic 400m champion, announced she is pregnant with her first child.

“New Year, New Blessing,” she posted on social media with husband Maicel Uibo, the 2019 World Championships silver medalist in the decathlon for Estonia. “We can’t wait to meet our little bundle of joy.”

Miller-Uibo, 28, followed her repeat Olympic title in Tokyo by winning her first world indoor and outdoor titles last year.

Also last year, Miller-Uibo said she planned to drop the 400m and focus on the 200m going into the 2024 Paris Games rather than possibly bid to become the first woman to win the same individual Olympic running event three times.

She has plenty of experience in the 200m, making her world championships debut in that event in 2013 and placing fourth. She earned 200m bronze at the 2017 Worlds, was the world’s fastest woman in the event in 2019 and petitioned for a Tokyo Olympic schedule change to make a 200m-400m double easier. The petition was unsuccessful.

She did both races anyway, finishing last in the 200m final, 1.7 seconds behind the penultimate finisher on the same day of the 400m first round.

She did not race the 200m at last July’s worlds, where the 200m and 400m overlapped.

Notable moms to win individual Olympic sprint titles include American Wilma Rudolph, who swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 1960 Rome Olympics two years after having daughter Yolanda.

And Dutchwoman Fanny Blankers-Koen, who won four gold medals at the 1948 London Olympics, when the mother of two also held world records in the high jump and long jump, two events in which she didn’t compete at those Games.

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