Zagreb

Justin Gatlin pulls up in 100m race, three weeks before world champs

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Justin Gatlin pulled up, grabbing his left leg in a 100m in Zagreb, Croatia, on Tuesday, three weeks before he defends his world 100m title in Doha.

Later tests on his hamstring were negative, and he was expected to return to training later this week, his manager said, according to Reuters.

Gatlin similarly trotted across the finish line of a 200m in Grenada on April 13 after grabbing at his left thigh. His manager said then that it was a cramp. He reportedly suffered a right hamstring injury in a May 2018 relay, too.

Gatlin came back this summer to break 10 seconds in three straight meets, becoming a medal favorite for the world championships behind countryman Christian Coleman.

But last week he was fourth at the Diamond League Finals in Zurich, his worst result this season, putting into question his status as the top challenger to Coleman.

Earlier Tuesday, Allyson Felix placed second in the 400m in 51.67 behind world champion Phyllis Francis, who clocked 51.02. Felix raced her second meet since Nov. 28 childbirth by emergency C-section.

Felix is expected to be at worlds, marking her record-breaking ninth world outdoors team. She currently shares the U.S. record of eight teams with retired high jumper Amy Acuff, according to the OlyMADMen.

Felix could be in the 4x400m and mixed-gender 4x400m relay pools but not the individual 400m at worlds, given she placed sixth at the USATF Outdoor Championships in July. Her best time this season, from the USATF Outdoors semifinals, is 51.45, ranking her 40th in the world this year.

MORE: Allyson Felix finds maternity protection with new apparel sponsor

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Marcel Hirscher is fourth male Alpine skier to win 50 World Cups

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Austrian ski superstar Marcel Hirscher became the fourth man to reach 50 career World Cup wins, taking a slalom in Zagreb, Croatia, on Thursday.

The 28-year-old Hirscher won his fifth race of the season, a strong recovery from breaking his left ankle in August slalom training.

He edged countryman Michael Matt by .05 combining times from two runs. Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen was third. The top American was Mark Engel in 24th.

The World Cup men’s career wins list:

Ingemark Stenmark (SWE) — 86
Hermann Maier (AUT) — 54
Alberto Tomba (ITA) — 50
Marcel Hirscher (AUT) — 50

“Alberto Tomba is a name where you think, oh my God, he is a real living ski legend,” Hirscher said.

Hirscher has now won at least five races in seven straight seasons. He already holds the record of six straight World Cup overall titles.

He leads this season’s standings, eyeing a seventh straight, through 17 of 37 races.

If Hirscher stays on his recent pace, he would pass Stenmark’s 86 wins in 2022 or 2023.

But Hirscher has always cautioned that he could retire after any season, even without an Olympic gold medal.

Hirscher was fourth and fifth in two races at Vancouver 2010 and was upset for slalom gold in Sochi by countryman Mario Matt, the older brother of Michael.

Hirscher grabbed two golds and one silver at each of the last three world championships.

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MORE: Alpine skiing season TV schedule

Mikaela Shiffrin wins again as history, records come into view (video)

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Mikaela Shiffrin won her seventh race in 14 starts this season on Wednesday. She will chase history at the PyeongChang Olympics, but single-season records are already coming into view on the World Cup.

Shiffrin captured the Snow Queen crown (which she broke, again) in Zagreb by a huge margin — 1.59 seconds — combining times from two runs.

Swiss Wendy Holdener was second, followed by Swede Frida Hansdotter.

Full results are here.

In her last 27 World Cup slaloms, Shiffrin owns 22 wins, two runners-up, a pair of third-place finishes and one DNF. The DNF came in Zagreb last year.

She made the podium in the last six World Cup races overall. The last woman to do that was Tina Maze in 2012-13, arguably the greatest season in Alpine history.

Which leads one to look ahead for Shiffrin.

If the Coloradoan stays on this pace in her best events of giant slalom and slalom, she will become the third skier to reach 2,000 World Cup points in a single season come the World Cup Finals in March.

Hermann Maier scored 2,000 in 40 races in 1999-2000. Tina Maze crushed that record with 2,414 in 35 races in the 2012-13 season. There are 38 scheduled women’s races this season.

Skiers receive 100 points for a win, 80 points for second place and 60 points for third place in a descending scale down to one point for 30th place.

This system was implemented for the 1991-92 season. Frenchman Jean-Claude Killy‘s historic 1966-67 season (won 12 of the 17 races) is out of the record picture because of the points table change and a busier race schedule.

Shiffrin will break Maze’s record if she stays on her current pace in slalom and giant slalom and adds another 398 points from the 11 remaining races in downhill, super-G and super combined.

“I don’t know if I will ever be able to do that. It’s not really one of my goals,” Shiffrin said, according to The Associated Press. “I also have so much respect for the season that Tina Maze had with so many points, it was incredible. There is a part of me that hopes that nobody ever beats that because she should really be remembered as one of the best ski racers of all time.”

Shiffrin is expected to skip several of the remaining speed races. She picks and chooses downhills and super-Gs at places where she feels comfortable with the speed and risk. She may pass on the Olympic downhill.

The focus is on the Winter Games, where Shiffrin is expected to become the first repeat Olympic slalom champion. She’s also a medal favorite in giant slalom and super combined.

Shiffrin, 22, is now at 38 career World Cup wins. Lindsey Vonn, the record-holder with 78 victories, had seven wins at the same age.

Shiffrin passed childhood idol Marlies Schild of Austria for solo sixth place on the women’s all-time list Wednesday.

The women’s Alpine World Cup continues with a giant slalom and slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, on Saturday and Sunday with coverage on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app. The events were moved from Maribor.

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MORE: Alpine skiing season TV schedule