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America’s Cup officials promise full investigation

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America’s Cup officials have promised a full investigation into the safety of their new sailing vessels after British Olympic gold medalist Andrew Simpson died Thursday amid an accident during team practice in San Francisco Bay.

Simpson became trapped beneath his crew’s 72-foot catamaran for ten minutes after the boat flipped and capsized in heavy winds. First responders were unable to revive Simpson once he was pulled from the boat’s wreckage.

America’s Cup CEO Stephen Barclay said he plans to find out exactly what happened Thursday to ensure the safety of his athletes in the future.

“Artemis Racing, Andrew, and his team were out there practicing,” Barclay told the London Telegraph. “They weren’t in event mode or anything like that so what we’ll be doing is reviewing the circumstances and try to understand exactly what happened and remove all the speculation to find out the facts.

“Then we’ll review what we’ve found and if there is a need to make changes, we’ll make them. But we won’t make a judgment now about what might happen in the future.”

The new boats, different than the single hulled vessels of the past, are built long, tall, and light to be sailed at incredible speeds.There’s been talk about safety problems with large catamarans for a couple years, and Team Origin principle Sir Keith Mills actually scrapped his plans of competing in 2011 out of fear that the boats were unsafe for his group, which in the past had included Simpson.

“Seeing what those boats were capable of – speeds of up to 40 knots – frightened the life out of me,” Mills admitted. “The class rules looked like they were dangerous boats to sail. At 40 knots, the control is minimal. Hit a big wave and that is it.”

After Team Oracle capsized amid similar conditions last October in San Francisco, Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena told the New York Times that it similar incidents were likely to happen because the boats were becoming too powerful. But Barclay doesn’t seem to assume much will change.

“As with high-performance sports, where athletes are pushing themselves in their craft to their limits, sometimes things go wrong,” Barclay concluded. “That’s the nature of what they do.”

Germans dominate women’s skeleton at world championships

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Germans Jacqueline Loelling and Tina Hermann went one-two at the skeleton world championships at home in Koenigssee on Saturday.

Loelling, 22, prevailed by one-quarter of a second after three runs over the 2016 World champion Hermann. Lizzy Yarnold, the Sochi Olympic champion from Great Britain, was .73 back for bronze.

“I didn’t expect to win, though I had perhaps hoped a little bit,” Loelling said, according to the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.

The top American was Kendall Wesenberg in 13th. Full results are here.

Loelling and Hermann, 24, represent the new generation of German sliders, both seeking to become the first Olympic skeleton champion from the sliding sports power.

Hermann swept the World Cup and world championships titles last season, and Loelling can clinch this season’s double at the World Cup finale at the 2018 Olympic track in three weeks.

Yarnold, who returned this season after a one-year break, said Saturday she had head and back issues and that she couldn’t walk three weeks ago.

The world bobsled and skeleton championships conclude with the final two runs of four-man bobsled and men’s skeleton on Sunday.

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MORE: Elana Meyers Taylor drives to second world bobsled title

Lindsey Vonn crashes out of World Cup super-G (video); out Sunday

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Lindsey Vonn crashed out of a World Cup super-G on Saturday, one day after refusing to start a race due to dangerous course conditions at the same venue.

Vonn fell trying to make a right turn about 17 seconds into her run, sliding into netting with her arms raised above her head in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. Vonn came back last month after breaking her right upper arm in a Nov. 10 training crash, the latest in a career filled with injuries.

Vonn lay motionless for several seconds but soon after skied on her own to the bottom of the course. She “was visibly upset and appeared to be crying as she was comforted by teammate Julia Mancuso” in the finish area, according to The Associated Press.

In four super-Gs since her comeback, Vonn has finished ninth and 12th and failed to finish twice.

Slovenia’s world downhill champion Ilka Stuhec won the race by a half-second over Italian Elena Curtoni. Austrian Stephanie Venier was third.

Mikaela Shiffrin was 13th in her fifth career World Cup super-G start, 2.11 seconds behind Stuhec. Full results are here.

“I just didn’t quite handle the peely snow as well as I could have, and I was a bit conservative in sections that I didn’t want to be,” Shiffrin said, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “But I’m happy to get a run in on this hill.

“I feel really good on my skis. I didn’t feel like that run showed it. But I also felt like I had some reservations after seeing how it was [Friday], and I really wanted to ski the whole course and make it down and try to put a time in there. But I wasn’t totally sure how it was going to run. So having a run under my belt is really nice.”

Six of the first 18 racers failed to finish, including a crash by Italian Sofia Goggia, who ranks fourth in the World Cup overall standings. After 20 starters, the race was delayed for about five minutes to treat the deteriorating course, according to Eurosport.

Mancuso, who hasn’t raced since March 2015, was a forerunner for a second straight day.

On Friday, Vonn and Shiffrin criticized race officials (and refused to race) for allowing a super combined to take place on dangerous snow conditions, specifically the bottom pitch, U.S. head coach Paul Kristofic said.

Vonn then spent Friday afternoon throwing up due to possible food poisoning, according to her social media.

The women race another super combined in Crans-Montana on Sunday (4:30 a.m. ET, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Vonn is not entered, choosing to skip it due to the crash and her stomach ailment. She is expected to return for World Cup races next weekend at the 2018 Olympic venue.

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