Mikaela Shiffrin wins Alpine worlds giant slalom, ties gold medals record


Mikaela Shiffrin won her first giant slalom world title to become the most decorated skier in modern world Alpine skiing championships history with 13 medals, including seven golds.

Shiffrin, racing two days after parting with her coach of seven years, prevailed by 12 hundredths of a second over Italian Federica Brignone, combining times from two runs on Thursday. Norwegian Ragnhild Mowinckel earned bronze in Meribel, France.

Shiffrin led by 36 hundredths at the last intermediate split, but a late slip between gates had her questioning whether she would hold onto the lead.

“My whole body went numb down there. … So much stress,” she said on France TV, adding later that she felt “a bit lucky” to hold on for the victory. “I thought that maybe you just threw everything away, or maybe you’re going to go harder now.

“I don’t even know how to explain it, but my heart is just going crazy. I feel like I’m going to faint.”

ALPINE WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Shiffrin had the fastest first run by 12 hundredths over Frenchwoman Tessa Worley, who skied out of her second run.

Shiffrin broke her tie with Kjetil Andre Aamodt, a Norwegian standout of the 1990s and 2000s, for the most individual world championships medals since World War II.

Shiffrin also tied the modern record for individual gold medals with Austrian Toni Sailer (1950s), Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel (1960s) and Swede Anja Pärson (2000s).

In the 1930s, German Christl Cranz won 15 medals and 12 golds when worlds were held annually with three events and fewer skiers (the International Ski Federation lists the top six finishers per race from that era). Worlds are now biennial with six individual events, including four that Shiffrin contests.

Shiffrin, 27, has 13 medals in 16 career individual world championships races dating to 2013. She won silver or bronze in the GS at the previous three worlds in 2017, 2019 and 2021.

“I don’t know if I can really put a value on any medal, but today felt very special,” she said. “It’s a moment I’m going to remember forever.”

Most of Shiffrin’s major titles, plus the toughest times of her career in recent years, came with Mike Day as her head coach. Shiffrin announced late Tuesday that Day was no longer part of her coaching team. Her plan was to make the change after the season ends in March, but Day decided to leave during worlds after being informed of the decision, Shiffrin’s publicist said.

Shiffrin, whose reason for the change was to have “new leadership on my team for the next phase of my career,” said she was stressed by the situation.

“One thing I really want to say is just thank you to Mike for seven years of, I can’t even say [only] helping me; he’s been such an integral part of my team and being there to support me through some of the most incredible moments in my career and some of the most challenging moments in my career and also my life,” she said. “He’s been there to support me through it all. So it’s just a little bit sad how it came down. I think everybody wonders about the timing. It was never the intention to make an official announcement during world championships. But the way things have conspired, that’s how it happened, and I hope to give him the time and the notice through until the end of the season to figure out his own plan and prepare himself for his own next steps.

“It’s been difficult for all of us to imagine this after so long being such a tight group, really, really a family. That’s difficult. But in the end, we have to focus, and we have to move forward. I’m looking forward to the next opportunities, and I’m really proud of the performance today.”

Shiffrin has one event left at these worlds, the slalom on Saturday.

“In a way the pressure is off, and the most important thing for me is to try to enjoy the last event of this world championships and enjoy my skiing because it feels really quite good,” she said.

As she has throughout the two-week worlds, Shiffrin dismissed drawing parallels to last year’s Olympics, where she skied out of three of her five individual events and had a best individual finish of ninth.

On Thursday, she won an Olympics or world championships event for the first time in her last 10 starts.

“I wouldn’t say revenge [from the Olympics],” she said. “It’s so easy to see the similarities between Olympics, world championships and last year to now, but there’s no real correlation except that the big events you want to make it work in that moment. Today, I really saw myself losing it.”

Worlds continue Friday with the men’s giant slalom, live on Peacock.

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Football takes significant step in Olympic push

Flag Football
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Football took another step toward possible Olympic inclusion with the IOC executive board proposing that the sport’s international federation — the IFAF — be granted full IOC recognition at a meeting in October.

IOC recognition does not equate to eventual Olympic inclusion, but it is a necessary early marker if a sport is to join the Olympics down the line. The IOC gave the IFAF provisional recognition in 2013.

Specific measures are required for IOC recognition, including having an anti-doping policy compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency and having 50 affiliated national federations from at least three continents. The IFAF has 74 national federations over five continents with almost 4.8 million registered athletes, according to the IOC.

The NFL has helped lead the push for flag football to be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games. Flag football had medal events for men and women at last year’s World Games, a multi-sport competition including Olympic and non-Olympic sports, in Birmingham, Alabama.

Football is one of nine sports that have been reported to be in the running to be proposed by LA 2028 to the IOC to be added for the 2028 Games only. LA 2028 has not announced which, if any sports, it plans to propose.

Under rules instituted before the Tokyo Games, Olympic hosts have successfully proposed to the IOC adding sports solely for their edition of the Games.

For Tokyo, baseball-softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were added. For Paris, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were approved again, and breaking will make its Olympic debut. Those sports were added four years out from the Games.

For 2028, the other sports reportedly in the running for proposal are baseball and softball, breaking, cricket, karate, kickboxing, lacrosse, motorsports and squash.

All of the other eight sports reportedly in the running for 2028 proposal already have a federation with full IOC recognition (if one counts the international motorcycle racing federation for motorsports).

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Helen Maroulis stars in wrestling documentary, with help from Chris Pratt

Helen Maroulis, Chris Pratt

One of the remarkable recent Olympic comeback stories is the subject of a film that will be shown nationwide in theaters for one day only on Thursday.

“Helen | Believe” is a documentary about Helen Maroulis, the first U.S. Olympic women’s wrestling champion. It is produced by Religion of Sports, the venture founded by Gotham Chopra, Michael Strahan and Tom Brady. Showing details are here.

After taking gold at the 2016 Rio Games, Maroulis briefly retired in 2019 during a two-year stretch in which she dealt with concussions and post-traumatic stress disorder. The film focuses on that period and her successful bid to return and qualify for the Tokyo Games, where she took bronze.

In a poignant moment in the film, Maroulis described her “rock bottom” — being hospitalized for suicidal ideations.

In an interview, Maroulis said she was first approached about the project in 2018, the same year she had her first life-changing concussion that January. A wrestling partner’s mother was connected to director Dylan Mulick.

Maroulis agreed to the film in part to help spread mental health awareness in sports. Later, she cried while watching the 2020 HBO film, “The Weight of Gold,” on the mental health challenges that other Olympians faced, because it resonated with her so much.

“When you’re going through something, it sometimes gives you an anchor of hope to know that someone’s been through it before, and they’ve overcome it,” she said.

Maroulis’ comeback story hit a crossroads at the Olympic trials in April 2021, where the winner of a best-of-three finals series in each weight class made Team USA.

Maroulis won the opening match against Jenna Burkert, but then lost the second match. Statistically, a wrestler who loses the second match in a best-of-three series usually loses the third. But Maroulis pinned Burkert just 22 seconds into the rubber match to clinch the Olympic spot.

Shen then revealed that she tore an MCL two weeks earlier.

“They told me I would have to be in a brace for six weeks,” she said then. “I said, ‘I don’t have that. I have two and a half.’”

Maroulis said she later asked the director what would have happened if she didn’t make the team for Tokyo. She was told the film still have been done.

“He had mentioned this isn’t about a sports story or sports comeback story,” Maroulis said. “This is about a human story. And we’re using wrestling as the vehicle to tell this story of overcoming and healing and rediscovering oneself.”

Maroulis said she was told that, during filming, the project was pitched to the production company of actor Chris Pratt, who wrestled in high school in Washington. Pratt signed on as a producer.

“Wrestling has made an impact on his life, and so he wants to support these kinds of stories,” said Maroulis, who appeared at last month’s Santa Barbara Film Festival with Pratt.

Pratt said he knew about Maroulis before learning about the film, which he said “needed a little help to get it over the finish line,” according to a public relations company promoting the film.

The film also highlights the rest of the six-woman U.S. Olympic wrestling team in Tokyo. Four of the six won a medal, including Tamyra Mensah-Stock‘s gold.

“I was excited to be part of, not just (Maroulis’) incredible story, but also helping to further advance wrestling and, in particular, female wrestling,” Pratt said, according to responses provided by the PR company from submitted questions. “To me, the most compelling part of Helen’s story is the example of what life looks like after a person wins a gold medal. The inevitable comedown, the trauma around her injuries, the PTSD, the drive to continue that is what makes her who she is.”

Maroulis, who now trains in Arizona, hopes to qualify for this year’s world championships and next year’s Olympics.

“I try to treat every Games as my last,” she said. “Now I’m leaning toward being done [after 2024], but never say never.”

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