Shiffrin ties World Cup record, Formiga concludes career with Brazil, and more

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Alpine Skiing: Mikaela Shiffrin wins Killington slalom, ties World Cup record

Competing in front of a home crowd, U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin won Sunday’s slalom at the World Cup stop in Killington, Vermont. It marks Shiffrin’s 46th career slalom victory, which ties her with Swede Ingemar Stenmark for most World Cup wins in a single discipline. (Video of Shiffrin’s win is embedded above.)

Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, who won the first two slalom races of the 2021-22 World Cup season, finished second (0.75 seconds behind). Three-time Olympic medalist Wendy Holdener of Switzerland rounded out the podium.

“We both had a mistake, but I think [Petra’s] was a bit bigger,” Shiffrin said after the second run. “It’s tight this year and quite exciting. I hope everybody enjoyed watching.”

RELATED: As Mikaela Shiffrin sizes up Olympic schedule, history shows potential obstacles

Soccer: Brazil’s Formiga concludes legendary national team career

Formiga‘s career spans nearly the entire history of women’s international soccer. When she was born in 1978, there was a Brazilian law that banned women from playing soccer.

Despite receiving pushback from her brothers, Formiga found her way to the pitch. While she missed the first ever Women’s World Cup (she was 13 in 1991), the 43-year-old has competed in every World Cup since.

RELATED: When 7-time Olympian Formiga was born, women in Brazil were banned from playing soccer

In addition to holding the record for most World Cup appearances by any soccer player (7), at this year’s Tokyo Olympics, she became the first athlete to compete at seven Olympics in any team sport. In other words: there has never been a women’s Olympic soccer tournament that didn’t include Formiga.

But on Thursday, Formiga played her last national team match, contributing 15 minutes in Brazil’s 6-1 win over India.

“I didn’t think that she would ever retire,” U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski said on Wednesday. “If you watch her play 15 years ago, 20 years ago, and now – you don’t see any difference. [She’s] such a legend and great player.”

Soccer: Ashley Hatch, Casey Murphy star in USWNT win over Australia

With a refreshed roster, the U.S. women’s national soccer team defeated Australia 3-0 on Saturday. The game was played in front of over 36,000 fans at Stadium Australia, the venue that will host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final.

Competing in a national team jersey for just the third time, Washington Spirit forward and 2021 NWSL Golden Boot winner Ashley Hatch scored just 24 seconds into the first half – marking the third-fastest goal in USWNT history. Rose Lavelle and Lindsay Horan (penalty kick) also tallied goals.

Goalkeeper Casey Murphy made the most of her international debut, recording eight saves and becoming the seventh goalkeeper to record a clean sheet in her first USWNT cap.

In addition to Murphy, three other players – Bethany Balcer, Morgan Weaver, and Ashley Sanchez – made their international debuts against Australia.

The U.S. and Australia will compete again on Tuesday (4:05am ET on ESPN) at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle.

Cross-country skiing: Frida Karlsson, Therese Johaug lead World Cup standings

Cross-country skiing’s World Cup season got underway this weekend with three women’s races in Ruka, Finland. Athletes from Norway and Sweden filled eight of nine podium spots to start the 2021-22 season.

Swede Frida Karlsson currently owns the top spot in the overall World Cup standings. She defeated Norway’s Therese Johaug to win Saturday’s 10km classical, while Johaug battled back to claim victory in Sunday’s 10km freestyle pursuit (video embedded below).

Karlsson, a seven-time world medalist who previously competed in middle-distance running, is aiming to make her Olympic debut at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Johaug, meanwhile, will be competing at her first Olympics since 2014. The three-time Olympic medalist missed the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games after testing positive for the steroid clostebol in September 2016. Johaug – who is a huge star in Norway – says the positive test was the result of a lotion she used to treat a sunburn on her lips. Since her suspension ended in 2019, Johaug won the overall World Cup title in 2020 and four world titles in 2021.

ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: The top storylines in women’s sports ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics

Figure skating: 15-year-old Kamila Valiyeva breaks world record

Russian figure skater Kamila Valiyeva won the Rostelcom Cup on Saturday with a record-breaking score. The 15-year-old tallied 272.71 points between her short program and free skate, finishing a massive 43-plus points ahead of second-place finisher Yelizaveta Tuktamysheva, also of Russia. (Video of Valiyeva’s record-breaking free skate is below.)

For Russia’s female figure skaters, making their country’s three-women Olympic roster will likely be more difficult than winning a medal at the Olympics. Russian women earned five of the six spots at the upcoming Grand Prix Final, but only three can make the Olympic team for Beijing.

READ MORE: Kamila Valiyeva breaks her own figure skating record score at site of her Olympic inspiration

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC

Kaillie Humphries elevates another fresh U.S. face to podium status in two-woman bobsled World Cup

Kaillie Humphries of USA, Kaysha Love of USA in action at the 2 women's bobsleigh during Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
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PARK CITY, UTAH – Kaillie Humphries extended her podium streak on Saturday at the IBSF World Cup, where she and U.S. push athlete Jasmine Jones finished third in the two-woman bobsled.

The third-place finish in Park City marked the sixth podium for Humphries at the Park City track, which hosted the 2002 Olympics, and was Jones’ career-first World Cup podium in just her second World Cup start.

“This is our first race together, so really excited about that,” said the 37-year-old Humphries, considered the greatest female driver in history with three Olympic gold medals (2010, 2014 and 2022) and five world championships titles. She earned her 29th career World Cup win on Friday in Park City in the women’s monobob.

“Definitely a work in progress. … The runs weren’t perfect, but I’m really happy with our starts, happy with our drives minus a few little mistakes. It’s a good starting point, and we’ll look to grow from here.”

Humphries and Jones finished with a combined, two-run time of 1:37.69, 0.32 behind winners Kim Kalicki and brakewoman Leonie Fiebig of Germany at 1:37.37. Fellow Germans Laura Nolte and Lena Neunecker were second at 0.23 back.

Kalicki and Fiebig broke a 16-year-old track record with their first run, laying down a time of 48.60 seconds and besting the time set by Americans Shauna Rohbock and Valerie Fleming – the 2006 Olympic silver medalists – in December 2006 (48.73). It also marked the second straight victory for Kalicki, who’s won five career World Cup titles including last week’s two-woman bobsled race in Whistler, Canada.

“I was hoping Kaillie would get [the record],” said Rohbock, who is now a U.S. team coach and was on hand to see her record fall. “That first run there, she had that little skid in the bottom, so that didn’t help, but Kailee’s always putting up a great performance. And Jasmine, another great brakewoman, so we’re really lucky that we have that depth.”

For Team USA, it marked the second straight week that a fresh face earned her first podium finish while competing with Humphries. Last week in Whistler, push athlete Emily Renna and Humphries placed third in Renna’s first-ever World Cup appearance.

MORE IBSF WORLD CUP COVERAGE: Kelly Curtis notches career-best finish with top five at Park City skeleton World Cup

“Being able to race with her was really special,” said the 29-year-old Renna, who was a college track athlete at University of Rhode Island. “It’s really nice to be around seasoned veterans. It definitely makes you feel better in the back sled with you when you’ve got a good pilot who knows the track.”

Renna finished in eighth place in Park City with 12-year U.S. team veteran and pilot Nicole Vogt (1:39.04). Vogt partnered with Jones in her first World Cup last week where they finished seventh in Whistler, 1.33 seconds behind winners Kalicki and German teammate Anabel Galander.

“To have an opportunity to be with Kaillie in my World Cup debut – it’s exciting,” said the 26-year-old Jones, who was a collegiate track and field athlete at Eastern Michigan. “I just feel like I have so much more in the tank to give, and I’m just hungry for it.”

Jones is particularly gratified with her performance after returning full-time to bobsled less than 18 months ago following the birth of her daughter, Jade Quinn Jones, in February 2021. The Greensburg, Pa., native returned to training just five months postpartum, having sat out the 2020-21 season. She competed on the North American Cup last year, finishing the season with a win (the third NA Cup title of her career) and a third place in Lake Placid.

“I’m thankful,” said Jones. “Opportunity is the main thing, and I just feel blessed to have my first World Cup podium. I’m screaming on the inside. I may not show it, but I am jumping for joy because I’m just that excited and happy to have this accomplishment.”

She admits, however, it’s not always easy to compete balance a full-time competitive career with being a mom.

“Sometimes it’s a struggle being away from my daughter,” said Jones, whose mom takes care of Jade while she travels. “I try to get my facetimes in every night and just know that when I’m pushing, I’m doing it for her. Hopefully sometime in the future I’ll have her around on the sidelines cheering me on, and that’s my main motivation – that this is for her.”

The BMW IBSF World Cup continues its North American swing Dec. 16-18 in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Kaillie Humphries faces IVF journey head on — and collects monobob World Cup win along the way

Gold medallist Kaillie Humphries of Team United States celebrates during the Women's Monobob.
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PARK CITY, UTAH — Kaillie Humphries knew the quest to start a family would impact her 2022-23 season, but it’s certainly not slowing down Team USA’s reigning monobob Olympic gold medalist, who captured her first World Cup title in the discipline on Friday.

The 37-year-old Humphries, considered the greatest female driver in history with three Olympic golds (2010, 2014 and 2022) and five world championships, earned her 29th career World Cup win and her third victory on the Park City track, where she won the two-woman bobsled competitions in 2012 and 2016. Competing in Utah – as well as North American World Cup stops in Whistler last week and in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Dec. 17-18 – is one of the reasons that Humphries pushed pause on her journey to motherhood.

“I’m excited,” Humphries said following the win, marking her second straight podium in monobob following a third-place finish last week in Whistler. “I was excited for this year before it started. It’s part and parcel of why my husband and I delayed the IVF process and starting a family this season. To be able to be back in North America and have the first half of the season here – it’s been a long time since we’ve had that, so I wanted to be able to compete and it feels awesome.”

That’s not to say the leadup to this season has been without its share of hiccups. In fact, Humphries admits that following the Beijing Olympics, she had hoped to get pregnant immediately, but she and husband Travis Armbruster had to pivot when a diagnosis of stage 4 endometriosis made it clear that in vitro fertilization would be the best path for pregnancy.

“Right after the Olympics, I was like, ‘We’re going to get pregnant; it’s gonna be all good,’” she said. “I thought, my body has always performed, and it wasn’t going to be an issue. Fast forward to I find out we have to do IVF. We do the first egg retrieval, and it doesn’t go as well as I had hoped — which anybody that’s done this process knows, you can’t control any aspect of it. And so having to do a second round of egg retrieval, …it pushed everything back.”

What’s more, it brought Humphries’ training to a standstill at times, when she would have to limit all physical activity during the three-week period surrounding the egg-retrieval process.

“It impacted my training coming into this year a lot,” she says, “but I also think it definitely reset my hormones, which turns out I needed. I don’t think was a bad thing. I knew coming into this year, I wasn’t going to be in the same shape as I have been in the past, and I had to make peace with that. I know that each and every race I’m racing myself into shape, and each race is a preparation for January’s World Championships.”

Humphries also chose to share her IVF journey publicly, and she’s documented every step of the way, believing that her story makes it less scary not just for her but also for other women and female athletes who might be facing the same thing.

MORE IBSF WORLD CUP: Kelly Curtis notches career-best finish with top five at Park City skeleton World Cup

“My husband and I weren’t sure that we wanted to share it at first,” she admits. “But I felt it was important just to showcase this. I have nothing to hide. And as much as there are parts of me certain days when I think, ‘What’s wrong with me?’ At the end of the day, I know I’m not alone in this.

“It’s important, I do have a voice, and I want other people to know, as an Olympic gold medalist, if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody. Infertility exists in the female body, and it’s important that I talk about it in my journey and hopefully that’s inspired other people.”

She says she’s received an outpouring of support, which has been particularly gratifying as she continues to put a painful breakup with Team Canada in the rearview mirror. Humphries, who was born in Calgary, competed for Canada for 16 years, winning three Olympic medals including a bronze in Pyeongchang in 2018. But the relationship came to an abrupt end later just five months after the 2018 Games, after Humphries alleged emotional and mental harassment by a former coach.

Winning a gold medal in Beijing just two months after her U.S. citizenship was finalized proved to be turning point for Humphries, who commemorated the milestone with two new tattoos. She first added the date of her win – Feb. 14, 2022 – to the back of her left hand and a larger rose and skull illustration to the back of her right knee and calf, all of which commemorate her triumph over that darker period.

“The skull represents a rebirth and a growth, overcoming challenges and/or obstacles and turning something negative into something positive,” explains Humphries, who says she chose the rose because it’s the national flower of the U.S. as well as a symbol of love won or lost. She notes that she has “an actual Olympic one” planned for August 2024, which is when her favorite tattoo artist is next available.

Humphries has also found the silver lining in her IVF journey, as the competition season has been a welcome break from some of the self-imposed pressure.

“By pushing pause for four or five months and competing, it allowed me mentally to know that we can go into all of next summer and all winter focusing on just doing the actual embryo transfers and having a good pregnancy,” she says. “I don’t feel stressed to try and get pregnant right away. I felt like I was becoming competitive with myself, wondering why isn’t this working? Why can’t I do this? I tried to control too many things, and I started to get really frustrated. Mentally, it was hard. So, by pushing pause, going back to what I know — which is the sport, which is what I love – it’s allowed me to control a little bit of my future.”

Humphries’ season continues Saturday as the IBSF World Cup from Park City concludes with the two-woman bobsleigh.