Mikaela Shiffrin gets 80th World Cup win, 50th slalom win, can reach Vonn record next week

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An on-fire Mikaela Shiffrin earned her 80th World Cup win (her 50th in slalom), moving two shy of Lindsey Vonn‘s female career record of 82 World Cup victories.

Shiffrin completed a three-race sweep in Semmering, Austria, by taking a slalom by .29 of a second over Minnesotan Paula Moltzan combining times from two runs Thursday night. That came after giant slalom victories on Tuesday and Wednesday.

It was the first U.S. one-two in an Alpine skiing World Cup race in eight years. Shiffrin, with her 127th career World Cup podium, was joined in the top three by another American for the second time in her career (and first time in a U.S. one-two). Moltzan, who at 28 is one year older than Shiffrin, made her second career World Cup podium.

“The coolest thing about tonight was coming into the finish and seeing Paula,” Shiffrin said. “I never experienced something like that.”

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

After coming to a stop in the finish area, the victorious Shiffrin tossed aside her ski poles and quickly glided to Moltzan. They both let out a scream and hugged. “80! Holy s—!,” Moltzan yelled as they looked into each other’s eyes.

“I don’t have any thoughts yet. I’m still working on the words,” Moltzan said on Austrian TV station ORF. “It’s been a bunch of baby steps leading to this point. … We’re making history while Mikaela’s making history.”

Moltzan, who went to college after being dropped from the national team, became the first American other than Shiffrin to make a World Cup slalom podium since Resi Stiegler in March 2012, when Shiffrin had just one World Cup slalom podium. Shiffrin now has 70 World Cup slalom podiums.

“Paula had a ripping run. I saw it from the start. I was like, she might win this race,” Shiffrin said of Moltzan, who was third after the first run and had a faster second run than first-run leader Shiffrin. “It is so special to share a podium with her. I don’t have much to say about 80 [wins] yet. I don’t know what to say.”

Shiffrin is on a four-race win streak overall, her best run since her record 17-win 2018-19 season.

She can tie Vonn’s record as early as next week with slaloms on Wednesday and Thursday in Zagreb, Croatia, where she owns four previous victories.

Ingemar Stenmark, a Swedish legend of the 1970s and ’80s, holds the overall record of 86 World Cup wins.

This season, Shiffrin has six victories in 12 starts, taking a commanding 369-point lead in the standings for the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing. Shiffrin won her fourth overall title last season.

The World Cup season, which is through 15 of 39 scheduled races, runs into late March with a break in February for the world championships in France.

Shiffrin was asked on Austrian TV what her wishes are for 2023.

“To be honest, I stopped wishing for things about three years ago,” said Shiffrin, whose father, Jeff, died on Feb. 2, 2020. “I’m here for the skiing, and being able to do it with a teammate, with many teammates, and an amazing crowd and amazing people around, I couldn’t even dare to wish for that, but we’re getting it, and it’s amazing.

“After everything that’s happened in life, personally and athletically, it’s just amazing to still be part of days like this.”

LAYDEN: With career records in view, Shiffrin knows nothing is promised

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Isabeau Levito, Bradie Tennell, Amber Glenn named to U.S. team for World Championships

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SAN JOSE, Calif. – With a calm command belying her age, Isabeau Levito has taken control of U.S. women’s skating at age 15.

Levito came here as the solid favorite to take her first national title, and she did it with a seemingly effortless grace, her balletic style producing solid winning performances in both Thursday’s short program and Friday’s free skate.

She was the last of 18 skaters in the free skate, following rivals who made mistakes big and small. Levito did not need perfection, but her skating approached it, even if the execution of some jumps could have been better.

Levito left no doubt of her superiority and burst into a wide smile even before the scores were announced. After a narrow win over Bradie Tennell (.02 points) in the short program, Levito (223.33) wound up 10.21 points ahead of the runner-up Tennell (213.12) in the final standings.

Amber Glenn was third at 207.44. She, Levito and Tennell will fill the three women’s places on the U.S. team for the March World Championships in Japan.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Two of the three U.S. women’s skaters on the 2022 Olympic team have announced their retirements (Alysa Liu and Mariah Bell; Karen Chen is a student at Cornell and might not return). Given that and Tennell’s recurrent problems with injuries, Levito’s stature as the leading U.S. woman seemed assured. Whatever pressure she felt holding that position was not evident.

“My entire goal truly for both programs was to stay composed and to really try to suppress my nerves as much as possible and to really not let little minor silly mistakes happen,” Levito said. “I feel as though I did just that today and I’m very proud of myself for it.”

“I’ve gotten very good at suppressing nerves,” she had said after the short program. “I still feel the effects of the competition. But I find my own way mentally to handle it.”

For both Tennell and Glenn, there was a redemptive quality to their skating.

Neither had a result at last year’s nationals. Glenn had to withdraw after the short program when she tested positive for COVID. Tennell never made it to the event because of the foot injury that kept her out of competition for all last season.

“Honestly, it was terrifying being back here after the conclusion of my season last year,” Glenn said. “That was a big mental hurdle for me, but I was happy I was actually able to enjoy myself again and enjoy competing.”

Glenn made her 10th career attempt at a triple axel, stepping out of the landing after getting full rotational credit. Her persistence in trying that jump, which she never has landed cleanly, is one reason she was holding her hip after finishing the free skate. Glenn insisted it was just soreness.

“An unfortunate side effect of being 23 and doing these ultra (difficult) elements is my body can’t always keep up very well,” Glenn said.

Tennell, who turns 25 Tuesday, has been battling an injury in her right foot for more than a year, then an injury in her left foot since October. She fought past all that to make the podium for the fifth time in her last five nationals – twice first, twice second and once third.

“This one probably means the most, because I didn’t think I was going to be able to do this again,” Tennell said. “To be here and to have achieved it, especially after the (poor) start of my season and the bumps that I had to overcome, I’m very proud of what I accomplished.”

Levito, the reigning world junior champion, reeled off seven triple jumps, two in combination with other triple jumps. She glided from element to element seamlessly.

“I finally skated the free the way I’ve been training to do it,” she said.

Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 12 Winter Olympics, is a special contributor to NBCSports.com.

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Scotty James wins fifth X Games snowboard halfpipe title

Scotty James
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Scotty James doesn’t have Olympic gold, but he remains king of the X Games halfpipe.

James, the Australian snowboarder who took bronze and silver at the last two Olympics, earned his fifth Aspen gold, repeating as champ of the biggest annual contest under falling snow in the Colorado Rockies. Only the retired Shaun White has more X Games men’s snowboard halfpipe titles with eight.

Nobody on Friday night attempted a triple cork, which was first done in competition by Japan’s Ayumu Hirano last season en route to the Olympic title. Hirano placed sixth Friday.

“It was a tough night, pretty interesting conditions,” James said. “Had to adjust the game plan. The show goes on.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression over the course of a three-run jam session for the entire field rather than scoring individual runs.

Earlier, Olympic gold medalist Zoi Sadowski-Synnott of New Zealand repeated as women’s snowboard slopestyle champion, passing Olympic bronze medalist Tess Coady of Australia on the final run of the competition. Sadowski-Synnott, the only snowboarder or skier to win Olympic, world and X Games slopestyle titles, capped her finale with back-to-back 900s.

The competition lacked 2014 and 2018 Olympic champion Jamie Anderson, who announced her pregnancy last month.

Canada’s Megan Oldham landed the first triple cork in women’s ski big air competition history to beat Olympic silver medalist Tess Ledeux of France, according to commentators. Oldham, a 21-year-old ex-gymnast, was fourth at the Olympics.

Eileen Gu, the Olympic champion from China, did not compete but is entered in halfpipe and slopestyle later this weekend.

ON HER TURF: U.S. freeskier Maggie Voisin on grief, loss, finding motivation

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