TSX EXTRA: Shiffrin ties Stenmark in Are; FIE votes for Russian re-entry

American skiing superstar Mikaela Shiffrin (Photo: Reese Brown courtesy U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

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Shiffrin takes Are Giant Slalom for 86th World Cup win

American skiing superstar Mikaela Shiffrin won the FIS World Cup Giant Slalom in Are (SWE) on Friday, leading from the first round and skiing into history with her 86th career World Cup win, tying Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark (1974-89) for the most ever.

Shiffrin, 27, who had already clinched her fifth career overall World Cup title, had a 0.58-second lead hearing into the second run and although sixth-fastest, secured the victory with a total of 1:54.64 to 1:55.28 for Italy’s Federica Brignone, the fastest-second-run skier. Said the winner:

“It’s a little too much to comprehend. It’s a pretty spectacular position to be in. I don’t take it for granted, to be in this position where people are asking me about when I’m going to win 86 or 87. It’s a cool place to be, even though it can be difficult to focus sometimes.

“But today I felt like the focus was there when I needed it to be, so it was fun to ski, and that was how I hoped it would be. I’m always afraid I’m going to lose the lead, so when I saw the green light, I thought, that’s really exciting.

“Now everyone is going to ask about 87, and I’ll say ‘argh’.”

This was her 20th career win in a Giant Slalom, and Shiffrin also secured the seasonal title in the Giant Slalom discipline, to go along with the overall World Cup and the Slalom title.

She has a chance to take the record for herself on Saturday in the Slalom, where she has won more races than any other skier in history: 52.

FIE votes to re-admit Russians and Belarusians

The Federation Internationale de Escrime voted, 89-46, in an online Extraordinary Congress to reinstate Russian and Belarusian athletes to its international competitions in the second half of April, “subject to possible future IOC recommendations/decisions, and in compliance with conditions of neutrality and individual eligibility.”

The FIE vote was decried by federations which were against the measures, including USA Fencing, which issued a statement that included:

“USA Fencing is disappointed, frustrated and disturbed — though not all that surprised — at the outcome of today’s vote, wherein more than 60% of nations voted to allow fencers and officials from Russia and Belarus to return to international fencing competition.

“This vote comes just over 100 days after 77% of the members of this same body voted to extend the ban. What has changed in those 104 days? Many will speculate, but one thing is painfully clear: Russia has not ended its unlawful and immoral assault on Ukraine — an invasion that has resulted in thousands of senseless deaths, an unprecedented refugee crisis and the destruction of Ukraine’s sporting infrastructure, notably including the evacuation of its fencing athletes. …

“Today’s ‘yes’ vote by more than 80 delegates, while not a direct endorsement of Russia’s war, does send a message to the world that a majority of the international fencing community is ready to look the other way and welcome back fencers funded by and supported by the Russian government. Some of these fencers have direct ties to the military, and many have not publicly condemned the atrocities of their government. In addition, welcoming coaches, officials and representatives from Russia and Belarus back to the FIE may see individuals who are directly employed by, or linked to, the Russian government resume their participation as well.”

A British Fencing post noted, “There was no definition of neutrality given within the proposals by the FIE, and the IOC has yet to make its recommendations in this regard.”

The FIE has a Russian President, billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who stepped aside shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in view of sanctions from the European Union against his business interests. Greece’s Emmanuel Katsiadakis has served as Interim President since.

Fencing joins cycling, judo and tennis as federations which allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete under a neutral status. The now-suspended International Boxing Association allows Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete without any restrictions.

InsideTheGames reported that the votes on the three resolutions on reinstatement were 89-46 with one abstention for individuals, 85-51 for teams (with three abstentions) and 88-48 for officials (with two abstentions).

The resolutions’ eligibility timing of mid-April takes into account a forthcoming meeting of the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board coming up on 28-30 March, at which the matter will no doubt be discussed.

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