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How to watch Mikaela Shiffrin ski for history this weekend

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Mikaela Shiffrin goes for the World Cup slalom wins record, live as part of NBC Sports’ coverage of winter sports this weekend.

Shiffrin, the double Olympic champion, has been on a tear in 2018, racking up a record-tying 14 World Cup wins for one year, including her last five starts. She is up to 50 career World Cup victories (youngest of the eight skiers to reach the milestone) and last lost Dec. 1.

The current win streak includes two super-Gs, a giant slalom, a slalom and a parallel slalom (she also skipped a downhill and super-G in Italy last week).

She is the favorite for Friday’s giant slalom and Saturday’s slalom in Semmering, Austria, streaming live on NBC Sports Gold.

On Saturday, Shiffrin can break her tie with retired Austrian Marlies Schild for the most career World Cup slalom victories. The 23-year-old American and her childhood idol are both at 35.

The last alpine skier to win six straight World Cup starts was German speedster Katja Seizinger, who swept a trio of downhills and super-Gs in November and December 1997. Seizinger didn’t skip any races in her streak, though.

The last skier to win more than six straight World Cup starts was Italian Alberto Tomba, who captured eight in a row between giant slaloms and slaloms in 1994 and 1995, according to the International Ski Federation.

Also this week, Olympic team sprint champion Jessie Diggins is expected to compete in the opening stages of the Tour de Ski. Last season, Diggins became the first American to finish on the overall Tour de Ski podium.

The most prestigious ski jumping competition — the Four Hills Tournament — opens with the first of four stops. Poland’s Kamil Stoch, winner of three of the last four individual Olympic titles, is looking to become the first man to three-peat at Four Hills in 50 years.

ALPINE SKIING WORLD CUP — Semmering, Austria and Bormio, Italy

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Friday 4:30 a.m. Women’s Giant Slalom (Run 1) NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. Men’s Downhill Olympic Channel NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. Women’s Giant Slalom (Run 2) NBC Sports Gold
12 p.m.* Men’s Downhill NBCSN
Saturday 4:30 a.m. Women’s Slalom (Run 1) NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. Men’s Super-G Olympic Channel NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. Women’s Slalom (Run 2) NBC Sports Gold
2:30 p.m.* Men’s Super-G NBCSN
5 p.m.* Women’s Slalom NBC NBC

*Same-day delay
All races stream live on NBC Sports Gold for “Snow Pass” subscribers and will have a replay of the event. Click here for more info.

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING WORLD CUP — Toblach, Italy

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 8:30 a.m. Men’s, Women’s Sprints Olympic Channel NBC Sports Gold
Sunday 6:30 a.m. Women’s 10km Olympic Channel NBC Sports Gold
8:30 a.m. Men’s 15km Olympic Channel NBC Sports Gold

All races stream live on NBC Sports Gold for “Snow Pass” subscribers and will have a replay of the event. Click here for more info.

SKI JUMPING WORLD CUP — Oberstdorf, Germany

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 10:20 a.m. Four Hills Qualifying Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
Sunday 10:20 a.m. Four Hills Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
11 a.m.* Four Hills Olympic Channel NBC Sports Gold

*Same-day delay
All events stream live on NBC Sports Gold for “Snow Pass” subscribers and will have a replay of the event. Click here for more info.

Daisuke Takahashi takes silver at Japanese Nationals, declines world spot

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Daisuke Takahashi finished second at Japan’s figure skating championships, then declined a world championships spot, allowing a younger skater to take his place in his return from a four-year retirement.

The 32-year-old Takahashi took silver behind Olympic and world silver medalist Shoma Uno, who earned his third straight national title with Yuzuru Hanyu again absent for health reasons.

In the women’s event, Olympic sixth-place finisher Kaori Sakamoto upset Grand Prix Final winner Rika Kihira, while 2018 World silver medalist Wakaba Higuchi was fifth, ending her bid to return for March’s worlds in Japan. Sakamoto and Kihira are joined on the world team by two-time medalist Satoko Miyahara.

Takahashi, older than any Olympic singles skater since 1952, fell once and had no quadruple jumps in Monday’s free skate but maintained his second-place spot from the short program. He finished nearly 50 points behind Uno, who is going to worlds with Hanyu and Keiji Tanaka.

“I never imagined that I could take a medal at nationals,” Takahashi said, according to the Japan Times. “I have not decided my future yet.”

Takahashi last competed internationally at the Sochi Winter Games, taking sixth, four years after becoming both the first Japanese male Olympic figure skating medalist (bronze) and world champion.

“It took me nearly 4 years from then, but now I would like to face fully with figure skating, and for me to catch up on my skating from the old days, I realized that returning to the competition is the answer,” Takahashi said on his website in announcing his comeback on July 1. “Being away for 4 years, I understand that it will be beyond my imagination of how difficult it may be for me to get back in the game.”

Takahashi won two other world championships silver medals and finished eighth or better at every worlds and Olympics at which he skated from 2006 through Sochi.

He helped usher in an internationally accomplished generation of Japanese men’s skaters.

“I asked him for advice, and he has helped me many times,” Hanyu said in a statement when Takahashi retired, according to Agence France-Presse. “As a skater … he will always be someone I look up to.”

The fourth son of a hairdresser and an architect, Takahashi opted not to follow his brothers into karate.

He would become one of the beloved athletes in the sport, adored in Japan as a five-time national champion. Fans were brought to tears when it was announced in the arena at the 2013 Japanese Championships that he was placed on the three-man Olympic team despite finishing fifth at that event.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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Japan Olympic legend avenges first home loss in 17 years in comeback

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Japanese wrestler Kaori Icho is off to a strong start in a bid to be the first person to earn individual gold medals at five Olympics.

Icho, 34, won a national title after taking two years off after the Rio Games, beating fellow Olympic champion Risako Kawai in Sunday’s 57kg final. A day earlier, Kawai handed Icho her first loss to a countrywoman in 17 years, according to Kyodo News.

This weekend’s Emperor’s Cup was the first event of a two-pronged qualification for September’s world championships and is the first tournament with Olympic qualifying implications in Japan, according to United World Wrestling.

“I felt a kind of nervous tension like I hadn’t in a long time,” Icho said of her second tournament back, according to Kyodo. “I still have room to grow, to improve, and now I want to take stock of the issues that arose with my performance today and make use of those lessons.”

Icho earned 58kg gold in Rio, while Kawai, a decade younger, was the 63kg champion. Kawai earned 59kg and 60kg world titles the last two years.

The weight classes alter slightly for Tokyo 2020 with 57kg and 62kg divisions.

Icho once held a 13-year win streak and owns 10 world championships.

She is already the oldest female Olympic wrestling champion (women’s wrestling was added to the Olympic program in 2004, Icho’s first Games). By 2020, she will be older than any men’s wrestling champion since Bulgarian Valentin Yordanov in 1996.

Icho is the lone woman to earn individual gold medals at four Olympics, joining a group of men including Michael PhelpsCarl Lewis and Al Oerter.

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