Mikaela Shiffrin breaks Alpine skiing World Cup wins record


Mikaela Shiffrin admitted she could have not cared at all about Saturday’s slalom. Her focus was Friday’s giant slalom and locking up the season title in that discipline.

Yet as she approached the start gate in the early afternoon in Åre, Sweden, a familiar uncomfortable nervousness fell over her heart.

Shiffrin focused, propelled herself down the course, and 50 precise seconds later, broke the Alpine skiing World Cup wins record with her 87th victory.

“I still had the same feeling in the start of this run that I have every race,” she told Austrian broadcaster ORF.

With wins on back-to-back days, Shiffrin tied and then passed Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record of 86 World Cup wins. Stenmark was a slalom and giant slalom star of the 1970s and ’80s and held the record since January 1982.

Shiffrin prevailed Saturday by 92 hundredths of a second over Swiss Wendy Holdener combining times from two runs. Shiffrin raced on the 12th anniversary of her World Cup debut at age 15.

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Her celebration was trademark subdued. She took deep breaths, crouched and buried her head in her knees. Moments later, Swede Anna Swenn Larsson, who finished third, congratulated her.

“You are f—ing insane,” Swenn Larsson said.

Later on the podium, Holdener joked that she has finished in second place “25 times because of you.” Holdener has actually finished runner-up to Shiffrin in 12 World Cup races, but she summed up the reputation of quite a few excellent technical skiers over the last decade.

Shiffrin then looked over to her mom and coach, Eileen, who was with two at first unrecognizable people bundled up in winter clothing. It took Shiffrin a moment to realize it was her sibling, brother Taylor, and his wife, Kristiana Oslund, who flew to Sweden to surprise her.

Only recently did Stenmark’s wins record become a target. Breaking the record is great, but not a dream come true. She said that having her family there made the day among the most memorable of her career.

“It’s a little bit funny how something I never thought about can become important because of who’s talking about it,” she told Swiss broadcaster SRF. “Everyone’s talking about it, and it becomes important for the sport, or for the people who are around me, so that it becomes important for me, too. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”

Shiffrin is up to 13 World Cup wins this season, the most for any man or woman in one season since her record 17-victory campaign in 2018-19. She is expected to race three more times at next week’s World Cup Finals in Andorra, live on Peacock.

On Saturday, she became the third skier to eclipse 2,000 points in one World Cup season (Tina Maze scored 2,414 in 2013, and Shiffrin had 2,204 in 2019). Each race winner receives 100 points on a descending scale through one point for the 30th-place skier.

There is always another number to chase, and for Shiffrin, the obvious one is 100. She is expected to race at least through the next Winter Olympics in 2026, giving her at least three more World Cup seasons. She averaged eight wins per season since her first World Cup victory in December 2012.

Aside from that round number, these are the athletes with the most World Cup wins across Winter Olympic sports: Marit Bjørgen (114, cross-country skiing), Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann (98, speed skating) and Ole Einar Bjørndalen (95, biathlon).

Perhaps the most wild part of all this isn’t that Shiffrin broke the record, but the idea that she may be nowhere close to done winning.

“It’s pretty hard to describe and not over yet, which is even more ridiculous,” she said. “I shouldn’t feel pressure, but somehow I feel something in my heartbeat. That’s the anticipation that we want to feel in ski racing. I have it. It’s stronger than ever.”

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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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