Lindsey Vonn

Lindsey Vonn ready to return to training on snow in Chile

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The next step in Lindsey Vonn‘s recovery is one flight and a few days away.

The Olympic downhill champion has been cleared to ski on snow six months after reconstructive surgery on her right knee following tearing an ACL in a crash at the World Alpine Skiing Championships in February. She will fly to Portillo, Chile, for a training camp Friday. She previously said she planned to return to snow on Sept. 1, which is Sunday.

Vonn said her right knee is nearly at full strength compared to her left knee, 98 percent to be exact, and hasn’t needed to ice the knee after a workout in a month and a half, according to reports of those who saw Vonn working out in Vail, Colo., on Wednesday. The Denver Post has a write up here.

Vonn probably will start with free skiing in Portillo, but she is hoping to run some gates during her two-week stay. She will have to “negotiate” that with Dr. Bill Sterett, who performed her surgery in February.

“I asked him to come down,” Vonn said. “So he’s coming down, and will monitor me. I’m hoping to start training in a couple of days, but my expectations are sometimes a little out of whack.”

She also repeated she expects to start her season at the World Cup stop in nearby Beaver Creek, Colo., which takes place Nov. 29-Dec. 1. It’s the third stop on the World Cup tour, which begins Oct. 26 in Solden, Austria.

Vonn, 28, will be one of the early stars of the Olympics. Her best events come in the first full week of competition. The opening ceremony is Friday, Feb. 7. Vonn, if healthy, would be expected to race at least the super combined (Feb. 10), downhill (Feb. 12) and super-G (Feb. 15).

As the Games go on, the focus shifts from speed events to technical events. Vonn, best known for her speed prowess, will pass the proverbial torch to her teammates. Julia Mancuso, also a medal contender in the speed events, won the 2006 Olympic title in the giant slalom, which goes Feb. 18. Mikaela Shiffrin, 18, is the world champion in the slalom, which takes place Feb. 21.

Included in all of those events may be the woman who took the mantle of world’s greatest all-around skier from Vonn this past season — Slovenia’s Tina Maze.

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IOC president: ‘No intention’ by any countries to pull out of Rio Olympics

Thomas Bach
AP
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LILLEHAMMER, Norway (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach said Friday that no countries intend to pull out of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro over concerns about the Zika virus.

Bach, speaking ahead of the opening ceremony of the Winter Youth Olympics in Lillehammer, said he has “full confidence” in the actions being undertaken by the Brazilian authorities and global health organizations to combat the outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus.

“There is no intention by [any] national Olympic committee to pull out from the Rio Olympic Games,” Bach said. “This does not exclude that we are taking this situation very seriously.”

Brazil has been the epicenter of the Zika outbreak, which has spread across Latin America and been labeled a global health emergency by the World Health Organization.

Health authorities are investigating whether there is link between Zika infections in pregnant women and microcephaly, a rare condition in which children are born with abnormally small heads. The outbreak has raised concerns ahead of the Olympics, which are still six months away in August.

“We have full confidence in all the many actions being undertaken by the Brazilian and international authorities and health organizations,” Bach said. “We’re also very confident that the athletes and the spectators will enjoy safe conditions in Rio de Janeiro.”

Some athletes, most notably U.S. soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo, have expressed fears about going to the Olympics. Solo said earlier this week that if the games were being held today, she would not go.

Bach said the IOC was working with national Olympic committees and the World Health Organization to monitor the situation. He reiterated that, because the games are taking place during the Brazilian winter, the colder conditions should mitigate the threat from mosquitoes.

“The World Health Organization has not issued a travel ban,” Bach said. “All the experts agree that the temperatures in the Brazilian winter time when the games are taking place in August … will lead to a very different situation.”

Bach’s comments echoed those of the IOC’s medical director, Dr. Richard Budgett, who told The Associated Press on Thursday that “everything that can be done is being done” to contain Zika ahead of the games, stressing that health authorities have not issued any travel restrictions for Brazil.

Bach is in Lillehammer for the second Youth Winter Olympics, where more than 1,000 athletes from 70 countries between the ages of 15 and 18 will compete in 70 medal events over 10 days.

MORE: Youth Winter Olympics broadcast schedule

Max Parrot, Julia Marino win Big Air at Fenway Park snowboarding

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Canadian Olympic snowboarder Max Parrot and American Julia Marino swept the first Big Air at Fenway Park events on Thursday night.

Parrot, who finished fifth in the Sochi Olympic slopestyle competition, had the highest-scoring run of all competitors in gusty conditions at the home of the Boston Red Sox.

He tallied a 96.25 in his second of three runs. The combined score of his first two runs — 183.5 — held up so that his last run was a victory lap.

Parrot gained attention in Sochi for being one of two Canadian snowboarders to call out Shaun White for pulling out before the slopestyle competition.

White didn’t compete Thursday. Olympic slopestyle champions Sage Kotsenburg (training crash) and Jamie Anderson (eliminated in qualifying) did compete, but not in the finals.

Big air, which debuts at the Olympics at Pyeongchang 2018, is most like slopestyle of the current Olympic snowboard disciplines. The key difference is that big air runs include one jump, while slopestyle is a course of several jumps and rails.

Earlier, American Julia Marino was the surprise women’s winner at Fenway, tallying a two-run total of 169.25. Marino, 18, was a forerunner who got into the field when U.S. Olympian Ty Walker withdrew.

Riders competed Thursday with wind gusts up to 25 miles per hour, NBC Sports’ Tina Dixon said. Their bibs flapped uncontrollably at the top of the 140-foot-high jump, nearly four times the height of the adjacent Green Monster.

“The wind definitely created a nervous factor for me, and I’m sure all the other riders, too,” Marino, a Connecticut native, said on NBCSN. “It was crazy windy up there. But the fact is the jump itself wasn’t as winded down below. … I’ve been to Boston so many times, and I’ve walked past this ballpark a ton. To be snowboarding here, it’s insane.”

Big Air at Fenway concludes Friday with ski big air, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra at 9 p.m. ET.

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