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Lindsey Vonn recovering ahead of schedule

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Despite the grisly picture that Lindsey Vonn tweeted of her knee last week, the Vancouver downhill gold medalist says she’s pleased with her progress, and is recovering ahead of schedule after tearing two knee ligaments during a crash at worlds three weeks ago.

That’s the good news. But Vonn also said during a conference call that she was unhappy about her injury and believes the race on February 5 should have been postponed due to what the FIS called “extreme conditions” in Schladming, Austria.

The super-G was actually postponed more than three hours that day due to fog, and Vonn said she “did not think it was safe” to race because of soft snow: “Athletes’ safety should come first.”

Vonn lost her balance on a hard landing that ripped her left ski off and sent her tumbling down the mountain. She tore her ACL and MCL and suffered a tibial plateau fracture, all in her right knee.

The day before the race, Vonn had written an article for the Denver Post stating her frustration regarding the course being closed to skiers and coaches because of snow conditions. She said no one on her team had been able to evaluate it before the super-G race:

“We were here last year for the World Cup finals, so I feel like I know the hill pretty well, but it always feels a little awkward when you don’t get a chance to free ski the hill before you race. It’s tricky to know the terrain when all you have to go on is course inspection the morning of the race.”

She’s expected back before the next World Cup season, and well before she’s set to compete in Sochi.

“I’m not extremely concerned when I’m going to be back,” Vonn added during the call. “I just want to make sure that when I do get back my knee is 100 percent. It doesn’t take a lot of training for me to be ready to race again.”

Galen Rupp, Meb Keflezighi lead U.S. Olympic marathon team

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Galen Rupp is the first American to make the Olympic marathon team in his debut at the distance since 1968.

Meb Keflezighi has become the oldest U.S. Olympic runner of all time, according to USA Track and Field.

The Olympic medalists Rupp, 29, and Keflezighi, 40, finished first and second in the Olympic marathon trials in Los Angeles on Saturday. Jared Ward was third and earned the final place on the Olympic team, his first.

In the women’s race, Amy CraggDesi Linden and Shalane Flanagan were the top three, all returning to the Olympics, with Flanagan collapsing at the finish line. Full recap here.

Rupp and Keflezighi broke away on their own around the 20th mile. Rupp then dropped Keflezighi in the 23rd mile and won by about 1:08, clocking 2:11:12. He broke the finishing tape with a fist pump.

Full results are here.

“It was a bit of a change running the marathon, but there’s no bigger honor than being able to represent your country at the Olympics,” Rupp told Lewis Johnson on NBC.

Rupp, the 2012 Olympic 10,000m silver medalist, and Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist, are the only U.S. men to earn Olympic track and field medals in events longer than 1500m since 1984.

Dathan Ritzenhein, a three-time Olympian and a pre-race favorite with Keflezighi and Rupp, dropped out of the race around mile 20 of 26.2 total in the hottest U.S. Olympic marathon trials of all time. The temperature at the men’s start at 10:06 a.m. local time was 66 degrees.

The Rio Olympic marathon will be on Aug. 21, the final day of the Games.

Rupp has said he prefers the 10,000m and might not race the marathon at the Olympics. If he doesn’t, the fourth-place trials finisher, Luke Puskedra, will move onto the team.

“I think [Rupp] is a 2:05 [marathon] guy, someday,” Rupp’s coach, three-time New York City Marathon winner Alberto Salazar, told media after Saturday’s race.

Rupp could contest two races in Rio, the 10,000m (Aug. 13 final) and the marathon, or the 10,000m and the 5000m (Aug. 20). Rupp finished seventh in the 5000m in London.

“I would say that the 10k is still my primary focus,” said Rupp, who would have to make the Olympic track team at those trials in Eugene, Ore., from July 1-10, in a USATF interview published Jan. 28. “Really, it just comes down to what I think I have a better chance in as a second event, whether that’s the 5k or the marathon.”

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Amy Cragg wins marathon trials; Shalane Flanagan collapses at finish

Amy Cragg
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Amy Cragg finished fourth at the 2012 Olympic marathon trials, just missing the three-woman team.

She left no doubt Saturday, winning the Rio Olympic marathon trials by 33 seconds over Desi Linden.

“Finishing fourth, looking back on it now, was so good for me,” Cragg told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “It made me more determined than ever as an athlete. I’ve worked really hard the last four years, basically, to move up one spot.”

Shalane Flanagan was third to round out the Olympic team, collapsing after she crossed the finish line and being carried into a wheelchair.

Two-time Olympian Kara Goucher finished fourth, just missing the team. She’ll have to compete at the track trials in July in Eugene, Ore., if she wants to make it to Rio.

Full results are here.

Flanagan said there was a point during the hottest marathon trials ever where she thought she was “done,” but her training partner Cragg talked her through it.

“Sweet baby Jesus, I’m so thankful for her,” Flanagan said with an ice pack over her shoulders, clutching a water bottle in her right hand and holding onto Cragg’s right shoulder with her left hand. Cragg held up Flanagan during the interview and then helped her back into the wheelchair.

Cragg, who later made the 2012 Olympic team in the 10,000m and finished 11th, led a team of returning Olympians to finish in the top three after 26.2 miles in Los Angeles on Saturday.

Linden repeated her 2012 trials finish of second place, surging in the final few miles past Flanagan. At the London Olympics, Linden pulled out 2.2 miles into the race with right hip pain, what would later be diagnosed as a femoral stress fracture.

“It’s been this Sisyphean task where I get to the top, and then the rock crumbles down,” Linden said. “I want to do it better this time.”

Flanagan, who broke from the pack with Cragg at the 12-mile mark, faded to third, still making her fourth Olympic team.

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