Mikaela Shiffrin ties Lindsey Vonn’s record for World Cup wins


Mikaela Shiffrin tied Lindsey Vonn‘s female record with her 82nd career World Cup win, taking a giant slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, on Sunday.

Shiffrin’s first bid to break the record will be Tuesday in a night slalom in Flachau, Austria, live on Peacock.

The only Alpine skier with more World Cup wins than Shiffrin is Swede Ingemar Stenmark, who racked up 86 in the 1970s and ’80s.

On Sunday, Shiffrin said she developed a face rash and felt like she could pass out at the start because she was so nervous. Yet she was fastest in both runs and prevailed by .77 of a second over Italian Federica Brignone. She pumped her arms and yelled after finishing, then sat with her arms folded around her knees.

“I don’t care about the number,” Shiffrin said. “I just focus on the skiing.”

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The 2012 song “Hall of Fame” by the Script began playing over loud speakers, followed by Tina Turner‘s “Simply the Best.”

“I don’t know why [I was so nervous], maybe a little bit was because of 82,” said Shiffrin, saying it was maybe the most nervous she has ever felt at a ski race. “I really wanted to ski it well, and I did.

“I hope some day I can ski like that again because it was maybe the best skiing I ever did in a GS.”

Later, Shiffrin shed tears on the podium.

“My dad used to be there and taking pictures, and most races these days, I’ll think about him,” Shiffrin said of her father, Jeff, who died unexpectedly on Feb. 2, 2020. “Before I ever won my first World Cup, he said, ‘You better memorize the words of the national anthem, because if you ever win, you better sing it.’ And so I always think about him when I’m up there.”

Shiffrin continued a torrid start to the season with her eighth victory in 15 tries, which included a five-race win streak that was snapped when she tied for sixth in a GS on Saturday.

“The heart’s beating, and I can’t feel my legs,” she said. “Every time I feel that, then I try to be more powerful, like somehow push harder instead of being too nice to the trail or something.”

The 27-year-old has as many victories this season as her last two seasons combined. The last time she won this many races in one season was her record 17-win campaign in 2018-19.

It took Shiffrin 233 World Cup starts to reach 82 wins. Vonn won her 82nd around her 390th start at age 33. Stenmark won his 82nd at age 29 around his 220th start, according to ski-db.com (when extracting parallel races that didn’t count as World Cups back then).

Shiffrin also moved into solo second place for women’s World Cup giant slalom wins with her 17th, trailing only Swiss Vreni Schneider, who won 20. Shiffrin already owns the most slalom wins for men or women with 51, a record for any discipline.

Attention now turns to breaking the record she now shares with Vonn, then pursuing Stenmark. One person who is not focused on it: Shiffrin.

“Maybe at some point people will stop talking about it,” she laughed. “It’s not my goal, but it’s an important thing. I’m not very good at finding words to describe that. If I get there, I hope I can keep it in my own head in a way that it’s not a relief to get to 86 because it would be such a shame to feel relieved about 86 victories, because then it’s over. I should just celebrate whatever comes for the next races and for the rest of my career because I don’t want to ruin it by chasing some record that probably shouldn’t be broken anyway.”

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


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.

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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

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.

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