Mikaela Shiffrin finishes world championships with slalom silver behind Canadian surprise

Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin finished the world Alpine skiing championships with silver in her best event, the slalom, feeling the fatigue of two weeks of racing that included three medals, one gold and parting with her longtime coach earlier this week.

She finished 57 hundredths behind surprise Canadian winner Laurence St-Germain combining times from two runs in Meribel, France. German Lena Duerr earned bronze.

“It’s quite an unbelievable day after everything after these last two weeks,” Shiffrin said on the Swiss SRF broadcast. “It’s been the full range of emotions. For me, like a totally complete world championships with disappointment and excitement and triumphs and stress and everything. To finish today with another medal, that’s crazy.

“In general the headline would be losing gold. For me, it’s just as much winning silver.”

ALPINE WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

The last five minutes of Saturday’s race were bonkers.

St-Germain, a 28-year-old ranked 18th in the world in slalom this season, was third after the first run behind Swiss Wendy Holdener and the leader Shiffrin. St-Germain skied into the lead in the second run.

Then came Holdener, the world’s second-ranked slalom skier. She was leading St-Germain by 72 hundredths with 20 seconds left on the course when she straddled a gate, getting disqualified.

“I didn’t see [what happened to Holdener], but I could kind of hear,” Shiffrin, who was at the start gate when it happened, said later on the Austrian ORF broadcast.

Shiffrin began her run with a 61 hundredths advantage over St-Germain but lost most of it by the first split time and ended up 57 hundredths back with the 27th-fastest second run of the first 28 women who finished.

“It was not so much the conditions,” she said, adding that she backed off “here and there.” “At the end of two weeks, if I’m a little bit tired, I cannot move quick enough in slalom [for gold].”

St-Germain, whose only event at these worlds was the slalom, has a best individual finish on the World Cup of fifth and computer science and biomedical engineering degrees.

“Kind of weird,” she said of winning. “I was really not expecting this, obviously.”

Shiffrin finished worlds with one gold medal and two silvers in four races, rebounding after skiing out of her first race a few gates from what would have been a gold medal.

“Probably the biggest challenge has been just to keep my focus,” she said. “It’s been a long season, an exciting season, but even just the last two weeks has been just constantly pushing. At this point now I feel like the overload of everything.”

This past Tuesday, Shiffrin announced that Mike Day, her coach of seven years, left the team after being told he would not be retained for next season.

On Thursday, she won the giant slalom, her seventh career world title, to become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

With Saturday’s silver, she is up to 14 world medals (in 17 individual starts), breaking her tie with Swede Anja Pärson for the most since World War II.

“I’m a pretty pathetic partier, actually, but we want to try to celebrate a bit,” Shiffrin said of her overall performance at worlds.

The only skier with more medals and golds is German Christl Cranz, who in the 1930s won 15 medals and 12 golds. Back then, 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 will return to the World Cup in March. With 85 career World Cup wins (including a circuit-leading 11 this season), she is one shy of the record held by Ingemar Stenmark, a Swedish star of the 1970s and ’80s.

World championships results do not count toward the World Cup.

Worlds end Sunday with the men’s slalom, live on Peacock.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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).

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!