Lindsey Vonn

Lindsey Vonn says she’s healthy enough to win now

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Lindsey Vonn won’t race for another three weeks, but she’s already feeling like a champion.

The Olympic downhill gold medalist told reporters on Friday that she’s ready to win a World Cup super-G.

“Super-G is really good, it’s probably some of the best super-G I’ve ever skied in my life,” Vonn said in Vail, Colo., according to the Denver Post. “I found the right setup — the right skis, boots, everything is working well — and I’ve had the most super-G training of any event so far in this preparation period. I definitely feel like that event is 100 percent.

“Now it’s just branching out and getting a little bit more comfortable with downhill, which should be no problem, and getting in some more training days in (giant slalom).”

Vonn, 29, is coming back from blowing out her knee at the World Championships in February. She trained in Austria last month but opted not to race the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 26.

Her first races are expected to be a downhill, super-G and a giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colo., from Nov. 29-Dec. 1.

“It would be huge for me if I could win in Beaver Creek,” Vonn said, according to the newspaper. “Obviously that’s expecting a lot, my first race back. But I feel like I don’t have any pressure, honestly.

“I think I’m going to be just fine when I get to the races, but I’m not expecting anything. I’m not expecting to be on the podium, I’m not expecting a win. I’m just going to go out there and see what I can do. If I can continue training the way I am, I think the result’s going to be good.”

Vonn also said the record for most career World Cup wins held by Annemarie Moser-Proell should be attainable this season. Vonn needs four victories to pass the Austrian, but that’s not her primary concern.

“My focus is definitely on Sochi,” she said. “I want to be able to win on the World Cup before we get to Sochi. I want to go into Sochi with confidence, knowing that I can win.”

The Olympics begin with the super combined Feb. 10 and then the downhill Feb. 12. If Vonn shows she’s healthy during the World Cup season, she’ll be the favorite in the latter.

“It’s very different because I already have a gold medal,” Vonn told the Denver Post. “I feel like the pressure’s off. My childhood dream has been to win a gold medal in the Olympics, and I’ve already accomplished that, so everything from here on out is just icing on the cake.”

Vonn also said she wasn’t sure yet if Tiger Woods will be able to attend any of her races this season, according to USA Today.

Video: Lindsey Vonn calls Tiger Woods ‘dorky-goofy’

Amanda Kessel ‘dream come true’ in University of Minnesota return

Amanda Kessel
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Olympic silver medalist Amanda Kessel recorded two assists in her first game in nearly two years, coming back from a concussion for the University of Minnesota on Friday night.

“I think I’d regret it if I didn’t get back to this point,” Kessel said after a 3-0 win over North Dakota, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “It’s pretty much a dream come true.”

Kessel, 24, last played in the Sochi Olympic gold-medal game and then sat out nearly two years with symptoms from a concussion reportedly suffered before the Winter Games. Coach Brad Frost said in July that Kessel wouldn’t play this season, ending her college career.

But in August, new doctors gave Kessel hope she would play again.

On Friday, she skated on the Golden Gophers’ top line after the school’s medical staff got second and third opinions before clearing her to play, according to the newspaper.

“If I was going to get back to playing, I was going to be 100 percent healthy and be able to get in there,” Kessel said, according to the Pioneer Press. “I felt great being able to get in corners and get hit and stuff like that.”

Kessel, the 2012-13 NCAA Player of the Year for the undefeated national champion, said she wasn’t 100 percent in “game shape” and that she felt like a rookie, but that she’s ready to challenge herself in the final month and a half of her senior season.

“I don’t think I’ve heard it that loud since we won the national championship here [on March 22],” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said. “So many people were just so excited to see her work her way back to where she is now.”

MORE: How Amanda Kessel became a star for U.S. hockey team

Kjetil Jansrud wins first ski race on 2018 Olympic course

Kjetil Jansrud
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JEONGSEON, South Korea (AP) — Kjetil Jansrud confirmed he’s the skier to beat on the downhill course for the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics, winning the test event by a comfortable margin Saturday.

The first downhill course in South Korea also won mostly praise from skiers and the International Ski Federation.

“If you want to be the best you have to ski anything,” Jansrud said. “This is more than an acceptable Olympic downhill. The way it’s running now it’s almost a little too fast because the jumps are so big. But that makes it exciting.”

Giving Norway its 17th World Cup win of the season, Jansrud was nearly flawless and clocked 1 minute, 41.38 seconds for a 0.20-second advantage over Dominik Paris of Italy.

Steven Nyman of the United States finished third, 0.41 behind, in perfect conditions with clear skies, cool temperatures and hard snow.

It was Jansrud’s third win of the season and first in downhill after taking the season-long title in the discipline last season.

“This is probably the first run I’ve skied this season without mistakes,” he said.

Jansrud also led both training courses on the newly developed Jeongseon course.

Paris and Nyman each posted their first podium results of the season.

“In the summer I was thinking this is a highlight of the season to come here and to really learn about the culture and learn about what we’re going to experience during the Olympics,” Nyman said.

“I want to feel comfortable and come here with the expectations and I want to do well, too, because I know the Olympics are going to be here in two years,” Nyman added. “I did well and I’m happy. I think the course really suits my skills.”

A super-G is scheduled for Sunday in the first of 28 test events for the next Winter Games.

“Today we put Korea on the map of the international sports world,” Pyeongchang organizing committee chief Cho Yang-ho said. “This is just the beginning.”

While the course is not the most challenging of tests for World Cup racers, it features four big jumps, sweeping turns and is designed for small margins.

“It’s a downhill that is really made for the Olympics,” International Ski Federation president Gian-Franco Kasper said. “It’s not Kitzbuehel or Wengen — that we don’t need for the Olympics.”

It was only the third World Cup downhill held in Asia, and the first in South Korea.

Todd Brooker of Canada won in Furano, Japan, in 1985 and Peter Mueller of Switzerland won at Furano in 1987.

More than 1,000 fans attended the race, which was preceded by an opening ceremony featuring traditional dancers with skis on their backs.

Most of the spectators had to hike 500 meters (yards) up a steep hill to the finish area, since a planned lift for fans hasn’t been installed yet.

There were also cheerleaders to keep the spectators entertained, and many skiers bowed to the crowd after their runs according to the local custom.

Peter Fill of Italy finished fourth and Beat Feuz of Switzerland was fifth.

Jansrud is fourth in the overall standings, which are led by Marcel Hirscher of Austria.

Aksel Lund Svindal, Jansrud’s teammate who will miss the rest of the season following a crash in Kitzbuehel (video here), Austria, still leads the downhill standings by 71 points ahead of Fill. Jansrud is third, 109 points behind.

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