Ted Ligety

Ted Ligety plans race schedule for Sochi Olympics

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Ted Ligety, perhaps the top multiple-medal threat for the U.S., does not expect to enter every Alpine skiing event at the Sochi Olympics.

The two-time Olympian (and 2006 Olympic combined champion) raised expectations for his third Games by winning three gold medals at the World Championships in February.

Ligety, 29, swept the super-G, giant slalom and the super combined in Schladming, Austria, becoming the first man since French legend Jean-Claude Killy in 1968 to win three or more golds at a single worlds.

Ligety also entered the slalom but did not finish the first of two runs. He did not enter the downhill.

Which brings up the Sochi Olympics schedule. Ligety has never raced a downhill at an Olympics or a World Championships. That streak should continue in 2014.

The Park City, Utah, native said he plans to enter the same events in Sochi as he did in Schladming and at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics — super-G, giant slalom, slalom and super combined but no downhill.

“They (downhills) just take up too much time with three training runs and the race; really it’s a four-day event in a lot of ways,” he said. “If I want to prepare for the giant slalom, slalom and super-G as much as I’d like to, then that just doesn’t make too much sense. So, unless I’m winning downhills (this season), I don’t foresee myself doing the downhill at the Games.”

The downhill is the first event of the Alpine skiing calendar on Sunday, Feb. 9, two days after the opening ceremony. Ligety’s race schedule would begin a week after the opening ceremony:

Friday, Feb. 14 — super combined
Sunday, Feb. 16 — super-G
Wednesday, Feb. 19 — giant slalom
Saturday, Feb. 22 — slalom

Ligety raced in two of the eight downhills on last year’s World Cup circuit. He placed 31st in Beaver Creek, Colo., and did not finish in Kitzbuehel, Austria.

He’s readying for the first World Cup event of this season in his favorite discipline, giant slalom, in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 26. There, he’s expected to go head to head with his biggest rival, Austrian Marcel Hirscher.

Infostrada’s medal predictions for Sochi

What to watch at Drake Relays, Penn Relays

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Olympic gold medalists ramp up their track and field seasons at the Penn Relays and Drake Relays, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold this weekend.

Athletes are working toward the U.S. Championships in June and the world championships in August.

First, the historic Penn Relays will air on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold on Friday (5:30-6:30 p.m. ET) and Saturday (12:30-3 p.m. ET).

USA vs. The World in men’s and women’s 4x100m, 4x400m and sprint medley relays will air live on Saturday from Franklin Field in Philadelphia. A full schedule is here.

The U.S. teams are led by Olympic relay champions English Gardner and Natasha Hastings. The full roster is here.

Rio Olympic rematches highlight the individual-event fields at the Drake Relays in Des Moines on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold from 3-5 p.m ET on Saturday. A full schedule is here.

Perhaps no field is deeper than the 100m hurdles. World-record holder Keni Harrison takes on Rio silver and bronze medalists Kristi Castlin and Nia Ali, plus 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson.

The 110m hurdles contingent is strong as well. It features the last two Olympic champions, Jamaican Omar McLeod and American Aries Merritt, plus 2013 World champion David Oliver.

Grenada’s Kirani James and American LaShawn Merritt, who earned silver and bronze in Rio, go head-to-head again in the 400m at Drake.

The men’s 1500m is headlined by Rio Olympic 800m bronze medalist Clayton Murphy and London Olympic 1500m silver medalist Leo Manzano.

Rio bronze medalist Jenny Simpson races individually for the first time this year in the women’s 1500m.

That field also includes New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin, who gained fame of her own in Rio. Hamblin and American Abbey D’Agostino fell in an Olympic 5000m heat and helped each other make it to the finish line. Both were praised for their sportsmanship.

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IOC president unsure whether esports should be considered sport

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Esports are gaining momentum in the international sports movement, but they are not close to becoming an Olympic sport.

“We are not yet 100 percent clear whether esports is really sport, with regard to physical activity and what it needs to be considered sport,” IOC president Thomas Bach said Tuesday, according to insidethegames. “We do not see an organization or a structure that will give us confidence, or guarantee, that in this area the Olympic rules and values of sport are respected and in place, and that the implementation of these rules are monitored and secured.”

The first clear step (of many) to become an Olympic sport is for the IOC to recognize the sport’s international governing body.

Esports will be added as a medal sport to the Asian Games in 2022, and has been praised by LA 2024 Olympic bid chairman Casey Wasserman, but it is not yet IOC recognized.

“We are watching it, we see the differences, we see the lack of organisation,” Bach said, according to the report. “But we also see the high engagement of youth in esports. Therefore, we have to carefully consider how this could be consolidated.”

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