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.

Shaun White’s crash lands him in hospital

Shaun White
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Double Olympic snowboard champion Shaun White suffered a serious crash in training in New Zealand for the second time in as many months.

White was in the hospital after a “straight up old fashioned face plant” while preparing for the Olympic season, he said in an Instagram post Saturday.

“I’ve always lived my life by pushing the limits,” was posted on White’s Instagram. “Winning is great, but it’s the tough times that truly define you. I took a slam while training the other day, but don’t worry I’ll be back soon and better than ever!!”

White, 31, also crashed in early September, leading him to withdraw from his season-opening halfpipe contest in New Zealand. Doctors told him then to take a few weeks off.

White can afford to miss most of the fall. The snowboarding season does not ramp up until December. The first of a series of Olympic selection events is the second week of December in Breckenridge, Colo.

White is arguably the favorite for gold in PyeongChang in February despite finishing a disappointing fourth in Sochi, where he was bidding to three-peat as Olympic halfpipe champion.

White gradually improved last season after taking time off, changing coaches. dropping slopestyle (and his band work) and undergoing fall left ankle surgery.

He was 11th at January’s Winter X Games — his worst finish there since 2000 — but then finished first, second and first in his last three events.

He peaked at the finale, the U.S. Open in Vail, Colo. White landed a cab double cork 1440 and a double McTwist 1260 in one run for the first time, according to The Associated Press.

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Gymnastics doctor’s lawyers want trial moved, cite media coverage

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Attorneys for a former Michigan State and USA Gymnastics doctor accused of molesting dozens of athletes are pushing to have his trial moved out of the Lansing area.

The Lansing State Journal reports that attorneys representing Larry Nassar filed a change-of-venue request because of what they called “inflammatory and sustained media coverage” that they say has made it difficult for Nassar to get a fair trial in the area.

The media attention grew more intense this week when 21-year-old 2012 Olympic gold medal gymnast McKayla Maroney wrote on Twitter that Nassar started assaulting her when she was 13.

Nassar has pleaded not guilty to nearly two dozen charges in Michigan. He has pleaded guilty to three child pornography charges in an unrelated case but has not been sentenced.

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