Mikaela Shiffrin won her 83rd World Cup race Tuesday, claiming the women’s record for the most World Cup victories in alpine skiing.

Her win broke a tie with her former teammate and fellow American Lindsey Vonn. The 27-year-old had tied Vonn’s mark of 82 wins on Jan. 8 with a grand slalom victory in Slovenia.

The record-breaking win also came in the giant slalom. Shiffrin finished ahead of Lara Gut-Behrami by 0.45 seconds for her ninth victory of the season and her 18th total in giant slalom. She holds a record 51 wins in slalom.

“It might take me a little bit to figure out what to say,” Shiffrin said afterward. “I don’t know what to say right now.”

Shiffrin will have the opportunity to increase her record Wednesday, with another giant slalom scheduled at Italy’s Kronplatz resort. She’ll next set her eyes on the overall record of 86 World Cup victories, set by Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark.

No alpine skier outside the trio of Shiffrin, Vonn and Stenmark has recorded even 70 wins.

This World Cup season features seven more technical races (slalom and giant slalom), which are Shiffrin’s strength. She’s won eight of those 14 races this season.

In a recent interview, Stenmark said it’s a matter of if, not when Shiffrin breaks his record – and by how much.

“I don’t know who will be the first but I think that [Mikaela] Shiffrin will win more than 100 and it doesn’t make me sad at all,” Stenmark told Olympics.com.

Elite runners are joining the calls for better maternity policies in sport, adding their voices to those in the WNBA and in soccer.

WNBA All-Star forward Dearica Hamby called out the Las Vegas Aces this weekend for their “unethical” treatment of her in the wake of her pregnancy announcement. U.S. soccer stars Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe spoke out in support of Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir, who successfully sued her former club for withholding her salary during her maternity leave.

Fiona English joined the chorus this weekend. The runner, who was set to compete in the Boston Marathon in April, took to Instagram on Saturday to address the marathon’s lack of accommodations for pregnant people.

While she described herself as “overjoyed” when she learned she had received a spot in the Boston Marathon field for the first time, the 34-year-old also had recently found out she was pregnant with her first child.

Even during her pregnancy, she has “managed to still race all over the world,” she wrote. But with her due date just two days before the 2023 Boston Marathon, she knew it wouldn’t be possible for her to run the race.

“Obviously running the marathon isn’t just impossible, it would be physically dangerous for everyone involved,” she wrote. “So I tried to defer my place.”

When she reached out to the Boston Athletic Association about a deferral, though, she “was met with the coldest brick wall ever,” she wrote. While she had bought insurance, her claim was rejected.

“Why are you so alienating a section of the population – both financially and through archaic systems that not only discriminate against women but actively make it a costly process to be a woman?” English asked.

As English pointed out in her post, other races — including the London and Berlin marathons — have changed their policies to allow for pregnancy and postpartum deferral.

English is not the only runner to have such issues with the Boston Marathon. Alisa Paterson spoke with UK magazine Stylist ahead of the 2022 Boston Marathon to call out the event’s lack of maternity policy.

“As it stands, the Boston Marathon does not offer any deferral option for women who are in this position – the option is either to run the race whilst pregnant or forfeit your hard-earned place altogether,” she wrote. “When I reached out to the Boston Athletic Association, I received a very ‘computer says no’ response from them confirming that deferring places to the following year is not an option.

“Frankly, I am disgusted by this policy. I’ve had to qualify twice now for this race – I’m clearly fit enough to run it – it makes me so angry and I feel like I’m being punished for getting pregnant.”

The Boston Athletic Association provided a statement to Stylist on its policies.

“The B.A.A does not allow race entries to be transferred, deferred or refunded for any of our races, including the Boston Marathon,” the statement read. “Participants acknowledge and accept this at the point of registration.”

Mikaela Shiffrin won the super-G on Sunday, bringing her closer to the women’s World Cup record set by former teammate and fellow American Lindsey Vonn.

The win brought her career total to 77 race wins. Vonn set the record in 2018, with 82 total victories.

Shiffrin began the weekend by finishing sixth and fourth in two downhills before winning the super-G. She finished 0.12 seconds ahead of Elena Curtoni, who won the downhill on Friday.

“I feel really quite happy for this whole weekend and maybe try to take some of that with the slalom and GS as well,” said Shiffrin. “I felt very good the last days, but you never know, with super-G especially, you have to push so hard. It’s always on the limit. Actually, you’re pushing so hard, maybe you’re not going to finish.

“I knew what my tactics should be, I was not thinking about what’s going to happen in the finish until I got there. I had a very, very good run, so I’m happy with that.”

She hadn’t raced in a speed event since the World Cup finals in March. But the next eight events on the calendar are all technical events. They’ll then return to speed races in mid-January.

“I think that can help me with my giant slalom, and maybe even a bit with the slalom, to know if I can do it in downhill and super-G and downhill, I can do it in GS and slalom,” said Shiffrin.

In the overall season standings, Shiffrin takes a 105 point lead over Sofia Goggia, who broke two bones in her left hand. She underwent surgery on Friday and returned the following day to race.

Irene Riggs may have been born into a family of swimmers, but from a young age, she loved to run. She didn’t have a walking speed, her father Vic says.

Sometimes, it was to her detriment. “I would often fall,” Irene admits.

One of those tumbles Vic vividly remembers occurred at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. An enthusiastic Irene stumbled when trying to race to a platform a couple of inches off the ground and chipped her two front teeth.

But each time Irene fell, she got back up, showcasing a grit and determination that years later have propelled her to national prominence.

Back then, running was an activity for Irene, a way to expel energy. Irene’s parents were elite swimming coaches and her oldest sister, Abigail, was a star in the pool, later competing for Vic at West Virginia University. When Irene’s future coach, Mike Ryan, first met Irene in the fourth grade, cross-country star was not something he envisioned for her.

But Irene soon found outlets to channel that desire, most notably through the organization Girls on the Run. Middle-school races followed, and by the time she finished her freshman year, Irene’s desire to constantly be in motion had developed into a passion for distance racing.

Today, Irene is the best in the country. The Morgantown High (West Virginia) senior and Stanford commit clocked the second-fastest 5K time in girls’ cross country history two weeks ago and followed it up this past weekend with a first-place finish at Nike Cross Nationals.

Just like she did as a youngster, getting back up after each fall, Irene overcame setbacks along the way, including a freak foot injury that kept her sidelined for weeks this fall.

“Her competitive drive is what separates her compared to other talented runners that I’ve coached,” Ryan says. “She’s always had that drive to not shy away from running against the best and racing against the best.”

‘The intangible I can’t coach’

It’s a roughly seven-hour drive from Cary, N.C. to Morgantown, W.V., and in November 2019, Irene cried the entire ride home. A high school freshman at the time, Irene had just missed out on qualifying for the Cross Country Nationals. She would instead stay home while her teammates Lea Hatcher and Athena Young, both now with Division I programs, traveled to Oregon for the national meet.

“I would be OK and then I would think about it again,” Irene says. “I would start crying again.”

Irene had a stellar freshman season, running a sub-18-minute 5K at the regional meet in North Carolina. She wanted more, though. Going into her sophomore year, the sting of missing out on nationals kept Irene motivated. Even when the coronavirus pandemic took away opportunities for Irene to compete in national meets, she dedicated herself to getting better.

“That’s the intangible I can’t coach, that personal self-desire,” Ryan said. “She wanted to do more, she wanted to go faster, she wanted to go longer.”
Irene swam competitively through middle school, and she credits that experience with building up her endurance. By the time the high school swimming season rolled around her ninth-grade year, she needed a break.

Her time as a competitive swimmer was done.

‘All of this is kind of surreal’

Vic Riggs is an expert in the pool. He swam at Cal-Berkeley and has coached various club and college swimming teams, including guiding the men’s and women’s swimming programs at West Virginia since 2007. When it comes to cross country, though, he’s a relative novice.

But Vic could see his daughter’s emerging potential as her times began to drop. It all clicked for him last year at the Eastbay Cross Country Championships in San Diego when Irene nabbed 14th place, good enough for an All-American nod.

“I realized her competitiveness was going to take her to the next level,” Vic said.

Through her running, Irene has carved out a niche for herself. There are several talented swimmers in the family, including her twin, Caroline, who will swim at Yale next year. Irene enjoys excelling in a different sport.

“We do so much together, and it’s nice to have this little thing,” Irene said.

Vic has also relished the chance to simply be a dad, not a coach, and learn along the way.

“It was really cool to watch that development over the four years,” Vic said. “Every once and a while I would ask, ‘Are you having fun?’ She would always say yes. That was always our main thing.

“All of this is kind of surreal and unexpected. We never really expected this level of running.”

The journey, though, hasn’t been without bumps in the road.

Turning a setback into power

For someone who relishes motion, inactivity gnawed at Irene. When her foot got run over by a car this September, Irene’s daily route changed. While no bones were broken, the foot was badly bruised. She was in a boot for about a month and reduced to cross-training in the pool to maintain her aerobic fitness.

“I did have to take some down time, my foot had gone through such trauma,” Irene said. “When it’s in the middle of your season, you just feel like each day you are losing fitness.”

When Irene’s foot healed, she then had to regain the rhythm of her stride. Through it all, her goals of competing for national titles didn’t change.

“The focus was always on the end of the season championship race,” Ryan said.

Irene first broke a state championship course record by more than 45 seconds, clocking a 16:32, well under her goal of sub-17 minutes. With Irene leading the way, Morgantown captured a fourth consecutive state title.

A month of training followed, leading up to the Nike Southeast Regionals in late November. While Irene tries not to fixate on running certain times heading into races, she had hopes of clocking a time in the 16:20 range. Even she wasn’t prepared for the number she saw as she approached the finish line.

Not only did she break Katelyn Tuohy’s course record of 16:22.8, but she also clocked the second-fastest 5K time in girls’ cross-country history, finishing in 16:02.01.

“Literally a year ago, I ran that exact same course,” Irene says. “If anything, it was muddier this year and I ran 17:17 last year. I dropped one minute and 15 seconds this year. That was a little shocking.”

Four years earlier, Irene sobbed in the car ride home from regionals, distraught over missing out on nationals.

“I put that mental picture of her running up the hill her freshman year versus what I saw her senior year,” Vic says. “She was moving.”

But Irene wasn’t finished. A switch had flipped in her head before the season, when she told herself she could win a national championship. That’s exactly what she did on the first Saturday of December with a time of 16:40.9, nearly 14 seconds ahead of the next closest runner.

“To come back and accomplish my initial goal, it was really special for me,” Irene says.

Next up is the track season — she focuses on the 1,600 and 3,200-meters — and then Stanford. It will be hard for Irene to be so far away from Caroline and the rest of her family, but she’s found a second home with the Cardinal.

“They said you’ll always be sad to leave, even though you’re excited to see your family,” Irene says. “You just love it so much.”

Irene is ready for that next chapter, to see what she can accomplish in cross country and track and field. There will be new goals and setbacks, but there will be one constant: running.

As a young child, Irene ran everywhere. Years later, she’s still on the move.

“I think that shows,” Vic says, “her true love for what she does.”

Phillip Suitts is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports. He has worked at a variety of outlets, including The Palm Beach Post and Southeast Missourian, and done a little bit of everything from reporting to editing to running social media accounts. He was born in Atlanta but currently lives in wintry Philadelphia. Follow Phillip on Twitter @PhillipSuitts.

The Supreme Court agrees on one thing: the NCAA is violating antitrust laws.

The Court ruled unanimously on Monday, stating that by capping what student-athletes can receive by way of education-related payments and benefits the NCAA is violating antitrust law. 

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court, affirming U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken’s dismissal of the NCAA’s argument that antitrust law doesn’t apply to the case. 

“In essence, [the NCAA] seeks immunity from the normal operation of antitrust laws and argues, in any event, that the district court should have approved all of its existing restraints,” Gorsuch wrote.  

“The NCAA accepts that its members collectively enjoy monopsony power in the market for student-athlete services, such that its restraints can (and in fact do) harm competition,” he added later. 

Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined Gorsuch’s opinion but also wrote a concurring opinion, calling the NCAA’s price-fixing “highly illegal” and indicating that he is ready to take on other NCAA compensation rules not at issue in the current appeal. 

“Traditions alone cannot justify the NCAA’s decision to build a massive money-raising enterprise on the backs of student athletes who are not fairly compensated,” Kavanaugh wrote. “Nowhere else in America can businesses get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate.”

“The NCAA is not above the law.”

With the ruling, schools can now give unlimited benefits tied to a student-athletes’ education.

The Tour de France is going to have a women’s race.

After years of female cyclists calling for a women’s version of the race, including petitions and some even riding every stage of the men’s race, they will now have a Tour de France to call their own. 

While there’s no word on what the route and length of the race will be, it is known that the race will start on Paris’ iconic Champs-Elysees boulevard after the conclusion of the men’s race.

There had been a women’s race from 1984-1989, but a so-called “lack of economic balance” led to the race’s failure. Zwift, an online fitness platform, has signed on in a four-year sponsorship. 

The “Tour de France Femmes” is scheduled to start on July 24, 2022.

The UConn women’s rowing team is safe, for now. A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order this week preventing the university from eliminating the program until at least Aug. 2.

The team filed a Title IX lawsuit against UConn back in April, arguing that in cutting the program the university was no longer in compliance with the law.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Underhill ruled Wednesday that it was likely the rowers would prevail in their Title IX lawsuit against the university. Underhill said there is compelling evidence that UConn has failed to comply with Title IX since 2008 and has been inflating the number of student-athletes on its women’s teams to suggest otherwise.

“Plaintiffs have shown that it is substantially likely that UConn is not presently in compliance with Title IX’s effective-accommodation mandate, and cutting the women’s rowing team would only exacerbate that noncompliance by magnifying UConn’s disparity in athletic participation opportunities,” the judge wrote.

The restraining order will last until at least Aug. 2, when a hearing on a preliminary injunction will take place.

The one-time transfer rule is now official.

Ratified by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors this week, the rule will allow all athletes who have not yet transferred the ability to do so one time in their college career and be immediately eligible to play.

Duke women’s basketball coach Kara Lawson, for one, has already taken full advantage of the new rule. The second-year head coach, whose team opted out of the 2020-21 season early, has signed seven transfers since Duke’s season ended: Nyah Green (Louisville), Celeste Taylor (Texas), Lexi Gordon (Texas Tech), Imani Lewis (Wisconsin), Amaya Finklea-Guity (Syracuse), Jordyn Oliver (Baylor) and Elizabeth Balogun (Louisville).

The proposed legislation, which was previously available to some athletes but not all, was adopted earlier this month and made official on Wednesday. NCAA athletes who have not yet transferred can benefit from the ruling starting with the 2021-22 academic year.

The exception to the rule will be athletes who decide to transfer after graduating.

Previously, graduate students were permitted to transfer and be immediately eligible. Now, if an athlete has already used their one-time exception as an undergraduate, they will have to seek out and be granted a waiver to become automatically eligible as a graduate transfer.

Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe are entering the wide world of NFTs.

Per Sportico, the duo will be joined by other top female athletes, including No. 1 WNBA draft pick Charli Collier and No. 3 pick Aari McDonald, all of whom are represented by Wasserman sports agency.

The series of one-of-a-kind digital trading cards will be designed in collaboration with Los Angeles- based artist Lauren Nipper and released to the public on May 10.

Rapinoe tells Sportico that the project is an opportunity for female athletes to exercise “true ownership” and “authentic creativity.”

Rapinoe and co. are not alone. USWNT teammates Christen Press and Tobin Heath jumped on the NFT game early, releasing their own digitized tokens through re–inc earlier this month.

This latest group of athlete NFTs will be sold as individual digital collectibles, available for purchase online next month.

Other athletes involved in the series include Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, skateboarder Mariah Duran and Paralympian Scout Bassett, with additional female athletes to be announced prior to the May release.

Have a day, Abby Heiskell.

The junior from Michigan needed the performance of a lifetime on Saturday, as all that stood between Michigan and their first ever national title in gymnastics was her balance beam routine.

But Heiskell took the challenge head on, and in the end a score of 9.9250 had Heiskell and her Michigan teammates celebrating.

“It means the world,” said Michigan sophomore Sierra Brooks. “Our team has talked about this for so long; and I think even waking up this morning, we were just eager to be out there because we knew we could do it, and we did it. And we’re national champions and that’s crazy. I’m so excited for this team.”

Oklahoma’s Anastasia Webb wound up winning the individual all-around title with a score of 39.7875, while Brooks had the highest all-around individual score for the Wolverines with a 39.7750. 

Just the seventh school in history to ever win the NCAA women’s gymnastics title, the Wolverines finished with a score of 198.2500 – a team record and the third-highest winning team score in history. They also finished ahead of Oklahoma by only .088 (197.9875). Florida – who spent the entire season ranked No. 1 in the country — finished third with a score of 197.1375. 

Another thing to love about Michigan winning the title? Women supporting women. 

Defending national champions Oklahoma were quick to congratulate Michigan on their first ever title. You love to see it.

And then there’s Serena Williams’ daughter Olympia, who was likewise inspired by Brooks’ performance.

In case you want to watch Heiskell’s performance again and relive every moment of Michigan’s historic win, you can watch it below: