Ligety dominates first World Cup GS event

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The snow is on the ground, the winter sports world cup season is off and running, and the Americans are already making impressive steps toward the top of the Sochi podium.

Torino combined gold medalist Ted Ligety started his season by dominating the first event of the giant slalom calendar, winning by a staggering 2.75 seconds, the largest margin in that race at an World Cup event in 33 years.

“This an unbelievable gap, a once-in-a-career margin,” Ligety, who was in second after his first run despite terrible weather conditions, told the AP Sunday. “In the second run, I took more risks than anyone else, more than what was really smart, so I got a bit lucky there.”

The victory in Austria was the twelfth of Ligety’s career, who also won the 2011 giant slalom world championhips in Garmisch, Germany. The American beat out Italy’s Manfred Moelgg and Austria’s Marcel HIrscher, the reigning world cup champ in the event, who were both equally impressed with the feat.

“The top in GS is only Ligety, then comes the rest of the world,” Hirscher said. “This is a big blow for us. It makes almost no sense racing against him. We have a lot of work to do.”

The record for the largest gap between first and second is still held by Sweden’s double Olympic gold medalist Ingemar Stenmark, who won a race in Jasna, Slovakia by 4.06 seconds back in 1979.

Anna Pogorilaya to miss Olympics

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Russian figure skater Anna Pogorilaya, who at this time last year was an Olympic medal favorite, will miss the rest of the season including the Pyeongchang Winter Games with a back injury, according to Russian media.

Pogorilaya, 19, was the world’s second-best skater in last fall’s Grand Prix series but dropped off and then plummeted to 13th at the world championships in March.

She fell three times in a disastrous free skate and hasn’t recovered.

She was unlikely to make the three-woman Olympic team for Russia, which should include two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva, world junior champion Alina Zagitova and Maria Sotskova.

Medvedeva, who missed last week’s Grand Prix Final with a broken foot, plans to compete in next week’s Russian Championships, according to R-Sport, quoting a Russian figure skating federation official.

Pogorilaya was the 2016 World bronze medalist, sharing the podium in Boston with Medvedeva and American Ashley Wagner.

Pogorilaya also made the exclusive six-skater Grand Prix Final three times in four years, including in the 2013-14 Olympic season.

But she was eighth at Russian nationals that season and bypassed for the two-woman Olympic team. She was named to the March 2014 World Championships team and was fourth.

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Chris Froome returns abnormal doping test result

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PARIS (AP) — Chris Froome, a four-time Tour de France winner, has been required by cycling’s governing body to provide information after he returned an abnormal doping test for an asthma drug at the Vuelta a España.

Froome’s Team Sky said in a statement that Froome, who has not been suspended, has been informed by the UCI that a urine test on Sept. 7 revealed a concentration of salbutamol of 2,000 nanograms, twice the permissible dose.

“Thank you for all the messages of support this morning,” was posted on Froome’s social media Wednesday. “I am confident that we will get to the bottom of this. Unfortunately I can’t share any more information than I already have until the enquiry is complete.”

Sky said that the Kenyan-born rider had to take an increased dosage of salbutamol after he “experienced acute asthma symptoms” during the final week of the race.

Salbutamol is a drug that helps expand lung capacity. It can be used as a performance-enhancing drug to increase endurance.

After successfully defending his Tour de France title in July, Froome went on to win the Spanish Vuelta for the first time.

“My asthma got worse at the Vuelta so I followed the team doctor’s advice to increase my Salbutamol dosage,” Froome said in a statement. “As always, I took the greatest care to ensure that I did not use more than the permissible dose. I take my leadership position in my sport very seriously. The UCI is absolutely right to examine test results and, together with the team, I will provide whatever information it requires.”

The UCI said in a statement that both Froome’s ‘B’ sample confirmed the result, but stressed that “the presence of a specified substance such as salbutamol in a sample does not result in the imposition of such mandatory provisional suspension against the rider.”

Sky stressed the abnormal result does not mean Froome has breached anti-doping rules and team principal Dave Brailsford insisted he has the “utmost confidence that Chris followed the medical guidance in managing his asthma symptoms, staying within the permissible dose for Salbutamol.”

Froome’s abnormal sample was returned after Stage 18. He was notified of the doping test result Sept. 20, the day he took bronze in the world championships time trial.

“As race leader, Chris was tested after every stage through this period and he declared his use of the medication as part of the process,” Sky said, adding that none of the 20 other urine tests taken by the Briton “required any further explanation.”

If found guilty of doping, the 32-year-old Froome could lose his Vuelta title and be suspended.

He said last month that he was planning to ride the Giro d’Italia next year in an attempt to win his third Grand Tour in a row.

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