|Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates winning the slalom with her first-place
prize - a reindeer - on Nov. 16, 2013 in Levi, Finland.
Mikaela Shiffrin was the only woman to break 58 seconds in both runs on the way to winning the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup opening slalom event of the season by more than a second on Saturday in Levi, Finland. Maria Hoefl-Riesch, the 2010 Olympic champion from Germany, was second.
Shiffrin, an 18-year-old who is the defending world slalom champion, posted the fifth world cup win of her career. She has won five of the last eight world cup slalom races.
“I’m a ski racer at heart, so I’m really happy to be back racing, back on snow, back in winter,” said Shiffrin, who, in addition to prize money and world cup points, received a reindeer as a prize for the victory. “It was really foreign to me this summer with all the media and everybody so excited about the Olympics.
“It’s awesome and it’s a great place to be for sure, but I had no idea what to expect. So it’s nice to have my feet back on the ground, back in a place that I know.”
Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety, who opened the world cup season last month with a giant slalom victory in Soelden, Austria, began the slalom season with an 11th-place finish Sunday. Ligety was 24th after one run, then posted the sixth-best time of the second run.
“The second run I skied a little bit more like I should be skiing from run to run,” Ligety said.
Erika Brown, Debbie McCormick, Jessica Schultz and Ann Swisshelm have all been to the Olympic Winter Games before. In February, they will go together as a team after winning the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling Saturday night in Fargo, N.D., and being nominated to the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team. The four athletes from Team Erika Brown are the first U.S. athletes to qualify for the Winter Games, pending approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
John Shuster, Jeff Isaacson, Jared Zezel and John Landsteiner won the men’s title Sunday, but they still face a qualifying event to try to land one of the remaining two spots in the Winter Games.
Brown’s rink defeated Allison Pottinger’s rink, 8-7, to complete a sweep of the women’s playoffs. McCormick, the skip for Team USA in Vancouver and a member of Brown’s rink, qualified for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team for the fourth time.
Brown, the vice skip for the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, clinched the win for her team and her second Olympic appearance. She first appeared at the Games in 1988, when curling was a demonstration sport. Schultz and Swissheim are headed to the Winter Games for the second time.
“We all wanted to get back there, that’s for sure,” Brown said. “Everyone played so great all week, but the last three games we really played the best we could when we needed to.
“We played a great team and we just came through it.”
Shuster’s rink won the game of the men’s Trials, 11-1, when Pete Fenson’s rink conceded the match after the fourth end.
Team Shuster will now head to Fuessen, Germany, Dec. 10-15 for the Olympic Qualifier Event. The Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, South Korea, Japan and New Zealand are the other countries competing for the two available spots.
Shuster has been to the Winter Games twice, including a medal-winning performance in 2006 while part of Fenson’s team. Isaacson has made it once.
Brittany Bowe provided the biggest highlight Sunday as the United States wrapped up its most successful ISU Long Track World Cup in Kearns, Utah.
Bowe finished the 1,000-meter race in a world-record time of 1:12.58, with U.S. teammate Heather Richardson coming in second, to help the United States finish with 12 medals, its highest count for a world cup event. The effort broke a 28-year-old record of 10 medals in one world cup.
The team earned three gold medals, four silver medals and five bronze medals.
“It was an awesome race,” said Bowe, who had two individual medals and was part of a team pursuit bronze-medal performance with Richardson and Jilleanne Rookard. “I just went into it wanting to stick to my race plan and my tactics and I came out with a world record.”
Richardson medaled at both 500-meter races as well as 1,000 and 1,500 meters to finish the weekend with two silver medals and two bronze medals individually in addition to the team pursuit bronze medal. She set a personal record and also beat the previous world mark in the 1,000-meter in 1:12.61.
By the time the weekend was over, Team USA had also produced seven national records.
Bowe and Richardson had another double podium finish by placing second and third in the 1,500-meter Saturday.
Shani Davis won the men’s 1,500-meter Friday while Brian Hansen earned silver. Davis also won the 1,000-meter Saturday where Hansen finished third. The two joined Jonathan Kuck and Trevor Marsicano for a team pursuit silver medal.
Elsewhere in speedskating, short track speedskater J.R. Celski won the 1,500 Saturday and finished third in the 1,000 Sunday at the Samsung ISU Short Track World Cup in Kolomna, Russia. The United States also won the men’s 5,000 relay Sunday.
Ashley Wagner posted a personal-best score in an ISU Grand Prix event Saturday while defending her title at the Trophée Eric Bompard in Paris. Wagner led the way as the United States earned medals in each of the three disciplines it entered. She posted a total score of 194.37. Wagner won the short program and finished second in the free skate.
Samantha Cesario also had personal-best ISU scores while finishing fourth. Caydee Denney and John Coughlin gave the United States its first pairs medal of the ISU Grand Prix season by placing third. In the men’s competition, Jason Brown earned a bronze medal in his second career Grand Prix appearance.
Nick Cunningham was part of wins in both two-man bobsled races to lead the way as the United States opened its international season with six medals at the North American Cup in Calgary, Alberta.
Double races were held in each of five disciplines (men’s and women’s skeleton, women’s bobsled, men’s two-man bobsled, men’s four-man bobsled). Cunningham won with Abe Morlu in the first race and Johnny Quinn in the second.
“I’m pretty happy with the wins even though I left a lot of time on the track with some driving mistakes,” Cunningham said.
Bree Schaaf and Tracey Stewart teamed for a bronze medal in women’s bobsled, before taking fourth in the second race.
Cory Butner and Andreas Drbal joined Cunningham and Quinn on the podium with a bronze in the second two-man bobsled race. Butner and Drbal also joined Chuck Berkeley and Chris Langton for a pair of bronze medals in the four-man bobsled.
Erin Hamlin finished eighth in the women’s race to lead the United States at the world cup opener in Lillehammer, Norway. Kate Hansen led after the first run, but finished 12th. Matt Mortensen and Preston Griffall finished 13th in doubles. Chris Mazdzer placed 14th in the men’s race Sunday.
Megan Romano won four events at the Arena Grand Prix at Minneapolis, which took place Thursday through Saturday. Romano won the 50-, 100- and 200-yard freestyle events and the 100 backstroke.
Another big American winner in Minneapolis was Conor Dwyer, who won the 400 individual medley, the 500 free and placed second in the 200 free and 200 IM.
The United States defeated the Dominican Republic, 25-14, 25-16, 21-25, 25-18, Sunday to earn a silver medal at the FIVB Women’s World Grand Champions Cup in Tokyo.
The United States won its last four matches in the tournament to finish 4-1, behind unbeaten Brazil. The U.S. team finished 25-6 for 2013 and ranked second in the world.
Lauren Paolini led the win over the Dominican Republic with 19 points on 13 kills, four blocks and two aces. Kelly Murphy added 16 points on 13 kills, one block and two aces.
The United States defeated Russia in five sets on Friday and Thailand in five sets on Saturday.
Tim Howard made a tough save, deflecting a direct kick over the crossbar, in the 53rd minute to preserve his 34th career shutout Friday when the United States played Scotland to a 0-0 tie in a friendly in Glasgow.
The USA Men’s Eagles won for the first time in a year, defeating host Georgia 25-23 on Saturday in Tblisi. Adam Siddall lifted the Eagles to the win with a penalty kick in the closing seconds, completing a comeback from an early 10-0 deficit. Siddall finished with two conversions and two penalty kicks.
Kellen Russell, Kyle Dake, Clayton Foster and Zach Rey won their bouts to lead the United States to a 4-3 men’s freestyle dual victory over Russia Sunday in Ithaca, N.Y. Russia won, 4-3, Saturday in Clifton Park, N.Y.
TRACK & FIELD
Molly Huddle set a world-season best time and an American record Sunday morning by covering 12 kilometers in 37:50 to win the U.S. National Road Racing Championships in Alexandria, Va. Huddle edged fellow Olympian Shalane Flanagan to secure the season points race title for the series.
Aaron Braun won the men’s race. Shadrack Biwott finished second to overcome eighth-place finisher Matt Tegenkamp and take the series points title.
Jessica Wuesthofen received the gold medal at the USEF Saddle Seat Medal Final after demonstrating her excellent equitation skills aboard Michelle Werry’s CH EQ Chanti’s Prayer both on the rail and during pattern work. By winning the USEF Saddle Seat Medal Final, she claimed the Saddle Seat Equitation Triple Crown after winning the National Horse Show "Good Hands" Final in October and the UPHA Challenge Cup earlier last week.
Katerina Nash posted wins both Saturday and Sunday at the UCI Jingle Cross Rock-Rock in Iowa City, Iowa.
Gretchen Schultz and Jordyn Duffield finished 1-2 in the 11-12 girls tumbling final Sunday to complete a 14-medal effort by the United States at the four-day World Trampling and Tumbling Age Group Competition in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Leilani Akiyama, Nick Kossor and Brad Bolen won gold medals Friday at the Oceania Open in Apia, Samoa. Elsewhere, the U.S. junior team earned seven gold medals, nine silver medals and 12 bronze medals at the Pan American Infantil Championships in San Salvador, El Salvador.
Danielle McEwan and John Szczerbinski are competing in the QubicaAMF World Cup, which began Sunday in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, and continues through Nov. 23.
The ISAF Laser World Championships started Sunday in Al Mussnah Sports City, Oman, and continue through Nov. 23.
Sage Palmedo and Gracie Stone finished 1-2 in the women’s competition at the junior world cup for saber Friday in Sosnowiec, Poland. Elsewhere, Jackie Dubrovich won a women’s foil gold medal Saturday at the junior world cup for men’s and women’s epée and foil in Bratislava, Slovakia.