Lindsey Vonn wants to take on the men in downhill

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Vancouver downhill gold medalist Lindsey Vonn has asked the International Ski Federation (FIS) for the opportunity to compete against the men at a race in Alberta, Canada next month.

“We have been talking about it but no decision has been taken yet,” said World Cup race director Atle Skaardal. “It’s matter that the FIS Council has to examine during its next meeting in November. It’s necessary to go through the rules to see if there is a way to do this, and also a reason to do it.”

Rules state that competitors aren’t allowed to test course more than a week before an event, so organizers question whether Vonn would have an advantage over the women on the same course later in the season. Vonn doesn’t seem to be looking for that advantage, but wants to boost the sport’s profile for women, according to Reuters. Experts estimate she’d finish about five seconds behind the men.

Vonn would definitely have some supporters, and a bit of history on her side. Here’s a quick look at four female athletes who famously stood up against the men and won:

Jackie Mitchell: Her appearance for the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts was deemed a publicity stunt… right up until she struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, back-to-back, on only seven pitches during an exhibition game against the Yankees in 1931. Oh, and Mitchell was only 17-years-old at the time.

Babe Zaharias: After winning two golds in track at the 1932 Los Angeles Games, Zaharias turned to golf. She eventually won 41 LPGA titles and 10 majors and in 1945 started competing on the PGA tour. Babe made several cuts and finished 33rd at the Phoenix Open, but was kept out of the 1948 U.S. Open for being a lady.

Billie Jean King: She won 129 world titles, including 16 majors, and then famously went head-to-head with retired male pro Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes. King beat Riggs handily to win the $100,000 prize. She also won the battle for women to receive equal pay at major events when the U.S. Open agreed in 1973.

Danica Patrick: She’s always raced men, but long faced criticism for never winning a race, despite finishing fourth at the Indy 500 during her rookie season in 2005. Patrick finally took the checkered flag at the ’08 Japan 300, then finished third at Indy in ’09. Now she looks to be the first woman to win a NASCAR race.

Canada in control of hockey rivalry going into Olympics

AP
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Four years ago, the U.S. women’s hockey team rode a four-game winning streak over rival Canada into the Olympics, then lost both games in Sochi, including a gut-wrenching overtime final.

This time, Canada goes into the Winter Games having won four straight.

The Canadians beat the Americans 2-1 in overtime in Edmonton on Sunday night, taking their pre-Olympic series 5-3 overall.

“I don’t think it was our best performance,” Canada coach Laura Schuler said. “There’s still more work to do.”

The Canadians were led by their stalwarts — captain Marie-Philip Poulin scored in regulation, Sochi gold medalist Jennifer Wakefield scored 26 seconds into overtime and longtime goalie Shannon Szabados stopped 34 of 35 shots.

Hilary Knight netted the U.S. goal, with Maddie Rooney making 24 saves.

“The goal for us is to be hitting on all cylinders in February,” U.S. coach Robb Stauber said.

The U.S. appeared to be in that kind of form until about two weeks ago.

Before this losing streak, the U.S. had a 12-4 record against Canada since the start of 2015, including taking the last three world championship finals.

At one point, the U.S. won six straight games over a 12-month stretch, its longest streak over Canada since it famously won eight straight going into the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics then lost the gold-medal game.

Canada also beat the U.S. in their last four meetings before the 2006 Olympics and five straight going into the 2010 Olympics.

The U.S. Olympic team will be announced Jan. 1. The national-team roster is at 25 players (22 skaters, three goalies), but the Olympic roster is 23 (20 skaters, three goalies).

“Can’t live in the past, can’t live in the future, so tonight we were worried about this game,” U.S. captain Meghan Duggan said, according to the Canadian Press. “We weren’t looking ahead to February.”

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Yuzuru Hanyu to miss Japan Figure Skating Championships

Yuzuru Hanyu
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Yuzuru Hanyu, the reigning Olympic and world figure skating champion, will miss his national championships this week due to ankle and knee injuries suffered in a Nov. 9 practice fall, according to Japanese media citing the Japan Skating Federation.

Hanyu can (and very likely will) be named to Japan’s three-man Olympic team despite missing nationals.

Hanyu has reportedly been off the ice for more than one month since the fall.

“It is an important selection competition, and the Olympics are a big goal, so with that in mind we would like to think things through together,” Japan Skating Federation director Yoshiko Kobayashi said last week, according to Kyodo News.

Hanyu, who turned 23 on Dec. 7, fell on a quadruple Lutz attempted and then favored his right ankle in a Nov. 9 practice at a Grand Prix event (video here).

He skated the run-through for his free skate, although he elected not to do any more jumps.

“I have been told by the doctor that I need 10 days of complete rest,” Hanyu said in a statement on Nov. 12, according to Kyodo. “Following that, it will take three to four weeks to return and get back to where I was.”

Hanyu and world silver medalist Shoma Uno are favored to lead Japan’s Olympic men’s figure skating team. The third spot is likely to go to Takahito Mura or Keiji Tanaka.

Hanyu competed twice this season.

He posted a world-record short program score in his debut at a small September event in Canada, but struggled to fifth place in the free skate and finished second overall behind two-time world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain.

He then finished second to U.S. champion Nathan Chen at the first Grand Prix event of the season in Moscow in October.

Chen is the only undefeated male singles skater this season.

Hanyu won four straight national titles before missing last season’s event with the flu.

He was still named to Japan’s team for worlds, where he won his second title in four years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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