Women's slalom gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin // photo courtesy Tom Kelly and U.S. Ski Team

Women's slalom gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin // photo courtesy Tom Kelly and U.S. Ski Team

Skiing

Shiffrin’s ‘sure as heck’ gold

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — The first Olympics he went to, in his very first race, 15-year-old Michael Phelps took fifth place. He got right back in the pool and, soon enough, he set his first world record. In his next Olympic race — which, because of the calendar, had to wait four years — he won gold.

In her first Olympic race, the women’s giant slalom here Tuesday, 18-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin took fifth. She said, “I think this is supposed to happen,” adding, “The next Olympics I go to, I sure as heck am not getting fifth.”

Mikaela Shiffrin after Tuesday's racing in the snow, sleet, rain and fog // photo Getty Images

Mikaela Shiffrin after Tuesday's racing in the snow, sleet, rain and fog // photo Getty Images

Skiing

Shiffrin’s 5th hints at greatness

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — When Michael Phelps would stand on the blocks in an Olympic final and do that thing he did, wrapping his arms around and around and making that whap-whap-whap sound, was there really any doubt in his mind — or anyone’s watching — what was going to happen?

In the chaos of an Olympic short-track speed skating race, when Apolo Ohno toed the line, his bandana tucked under his helmet, his gaze locked like steel on the first few meters of ice ahead, he was all purposeful calm. He knew what was what, and everyone else — on the line around him — and the thousands in the arena did, too.

US Olympic Athlete Medalists Visit USA House

Wrestling

The Jordan Burroughs problem

Quick. Name the best wrestler on the Olympic and international scene the United States has ever produced.

The name most people would name — if, that is, they could name even one name — would be Dan Gable, who won Olympic gold in Munich in 1972 while not giving up even a single point. The Gable legend was, over the years, further enhanced by his incredible coaching career at the University of Iowa.

Swimming - 15th FINA World Championships: Day Sixteen

Uncategorized

Not just one super swimmer

BARCELONA — No, Michael Phelps did not swim even one stroke at the 2013 world championships. Yes, his presence hung over the meet — it being a year to the day that he touched the wall for the last time in the winning medley relay in London, as was helpfully noted in a Facebook post by the U.S. Olympic Team. Is he coming back? Who knows?

Whatever Phelps ultimately opts to do, keep at his golf game or again take the plunge, these championships, which wrapped up Sunday in memorable fashion, with the bang of the medley relays, will be long remembered because — if this is indeed the post-Phelps era — swimming now boasts not just one super-amazing swimmer.