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FINA adds mixed-gender swimming relays; which countries would fare best?

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Swimming’s world governing body approved mixed-gender relay events Thursday. They will be in place for a major international meet for the first time at the 2014 short-course world championships, according to reports.

That would presumably mean relays with two men and two women per country could be on the program at the following world championships in 2015 in Kazan, Russia. FINA has said mixed relays could be added to the Olympics at some point, but that step has not been taken yet.

We’ve already seen mixed relays at World Cup events, the Youth Olympics and, famously, at the Duel in the Pool meet between the U.S. and international stars.

Australian Olympic champion Libby Trickett went faster than the women’s 100-meter freestyle world record in the leadoff leg of the 4×100 free relay at the 2007 Duel in the Pool, but it didn’t go into the record books because she did it swimming against Michael Phelps.

So, if mixed relays were held, say, at next week’s world championships, which countries would be favored? Let’s do some math.

Based on FINA’s world leaders for this year (which have been known to miss a top time or two in the past), here’s how everybody would add up with flat times with two men and two women per relay.

4×100 free relay
Gold: Australia (3:22.15) — Cate Campbell (52.83), Bronte Campbell (53.72), James Magnussen (47.53), Cameron McEvoy (48.07).

Silver: USA (3:23.58) — Missy Franklin (53.43), Shannon Vreeland (53.83), Nathan Adrian (48.08), Jimmy Feigen (48.24).

Bronze: Russia (3:24.5) — Veronika Popova (54.12), Maria Baklakova (54.78), Vladimir Morozov (47.62), Andrey Grechin (47.08).

4×200 free relay
Gold: France (7:23.92) — Camille Muffat (1:55.48), Charlotte Bonnet (1:56.66), Yannick Agnel (1:45.48), Jeremy Stravius (1:45.61).

Silver: Australia (7:24.53) — Bronte Barratt (1:56.05), Kylie Palmer (1:56.66), Thomas Fraser-Holmes (1:45.79), Cameron McEvoy (1:46.03).

Bronze: USA (7:24.71) — Missy Franklin (1:55.56), Katie Ledecky (1:56.93), Ryan Lochte (1:45.97), Conor Dwyer (1:46.25).

4×100 medley relay
Gold: Australia (3:42.93) — Emily Seebohm (59.17), Christian Sprenger (59.05), Alicia Coutts (57.18), James Magnussen (47.53).

Silver: USA (3:44.05) — David Plummer (53.10), Kevin Cordes (59.99), Dana Vollmer (57.53), Missy Franklin (53.43).

Bronze: Russia (3:44.46) — Anastasia Zueva (59.83), Yulia Efimova (1:05.48), Evgeny Korotyshkin (51.53), Vladimir Morozov (47.62).

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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)

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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).

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