Lara Gut

Lara Gut stays hot, wins Beaver Creek super-G; more U.S. problems (video)

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Swiss Lara Gut is off to the best World Cup start by a woman in 23 years, taking the Beaver Creek super-G on Saturday for her third win in four races.

Gut, 22, tamed the new Raptor course in 1 minute 18.42 seconds, beating Austrian Elisabeth Goergl by .90 of a second. Another Austrian, Anna Fenninger, was third (full results at bottom).

(Goergl was disqualified after the race for illegal ski width, moving Fenninger to second and Nicole Hosp to third)

Gut won two World Championships silver medals in 2009 at age 17, making her one of the top challengers to Lindsey Vonn going into the 2010 Olympics. But she missed those Games after dislocating her right hip in a September 2009 training crash.

She’s the first woman since Austrian Petra Kronberger in 1990-91 to win three of the first four races in a World Cup season.

“Everything is going so fast when you’re skiing super-G, so I can’t really remember what happened,” Gut said on NBCSN. “I just tried to push on every gate, because it’s a really challenging course. I tried to ski like in [giant slalom].”

The U.S. contingent struggled Saturday, just as they did in the downhill won by Gut on Friday.

Leanne Smith was the top American in 23rd, followed by Stacey Cook in 28th. Julia Mancuso, a three-time World Championships super-G medalist, was 29th, her worst super-G finish since January 2010.

“I’m just trying to keep it together,” Mancuso told NBCSN. “It’s a long season. Hopefully things get better.

“Got to go back to the drawing board. Figure it out.”

The Beaver Creek World Cup stop concludes with a giant slalom, featuring Mikaela Shiffrin, on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC and NBC Live Extra.

Lindsey Vonn, who has 20 career World Cup super-G wins, hopes to return to the circuit with speed races at Lake Louise, Alberta, beginning Friday. Vonn suffered a partially torn right ACL in a training crash on Nov. 19, nine months after blowing out her right knee at the World Championships.

Beaver Creek super-G
1. Lara Gut (SUI) 1:18.42
2. Anna Fenninger (AUT) 1:19.34
3. Nicole Hosp (AUT) 1:19.53
4. Ilka Stuhec (SLO) 1:19.67
5. Nadia Fanchini (ITA) 1:19.70
6. Dominique Gisin (SUI) 1:19.93
7. Sofia Goggia (ITA) 1:19.96
8. Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) 1:20.07
9. Fabienne Suter (SUI) 1:20.11
10. Tessa Worley (FRA) 1:20.19
10. Lotte Smiseth Sejersted (NOR) 1:20.19
23. Leanne Smith (USA) 1:21.14
28. Stacey Cook (USA) 1:21.36
29. Julia Mancuso (USA) 1:21.43
31. Laurenne Ross (USA) 1:22.00
34. Julia Ford (USA) 1:22.22
43. Megan McJames (USA) 1:23.55
DNF. Anna Marno (USA)
DNF. Jacqueline Wiles (USA)

U.S. Ski Team depth on display in Beaver Creek, Lake Louise

Mikaela Shiffrin runner-up in World Cup season opener

SOELDEN, AUSTRIA - OCTOBER 22: Mikaela Shiffrin of USA in action during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's Giant Slalom on October 22, 2016 in Soelden, Austria (Photo by Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
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Mikaela Shiffrin‘s bid for a first outright World Cup giant slalom victory was denied by World Cup overall champion Lara Gut on Saturday, opening what could be a season-long battle between the two.

The Swiss Gut dominated to win the first race in Soelden, Austria, by 1.44 seconds over Shiffrin combining times from two runs. It marked the second-largest women’s margin of victory in Soelden history.

Italian Marta Bassino was third. Full results are here.

“I put myself so much under pressure until this morning,” said Gut, who led Shiffrin by 1.42 seconds after the first of two runs. “Sometimes, it’s horrible. You get into the race, and start thinking instead of just skiing. I’m happy I had a fast first run because the second run was just a fight.”

Shiffrin, the youngest Olympic slalom champion, shared victory with Austrian Anna Veith in Soelden in 2014 and finished second to Italian Federica Brignone last year.

Lindsey Vonn and Veith, both coming back from season-ending knee injuries, skipped Soelden.

Gut and Shiffrin could be the top World Cup overall title contenders with Vonn focusing on speed events and Veith’s readiness uncertain. Shiffrin had finished fifth, sixth and fourth in the overall standings before placing 10th last season, when she missed two months due to a right knee injury.

Gut, 25, won six races across four disciplines last season, showing the kind of all-around prowess that Shiffrin can’t yet match. Shiffrin is the world’s best slalom skier and showed she is elite in giant slalom on Saturday, but she has scant experience in downhill, super-G and super combined races.

“Lara’s given us a good pace to chase,” Shiffrin said.

The men open their season in Soelden on Sunday (4 a.m. and 7 a.m. ET, NBC Sports app; 9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

The women next race a slalom in Levi, Finland, on Nov. 12.

Shiffrin has won 11 straight slaloms dating to 2015, including her last eight World Cup slaloms, the longest streak since four-time Olympic champion Janica Kostelic won 10 straight from 1999 through 2001.


Ashley Wagner tops Skate America short program

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HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (AP) — Ashley Wagner topped the Skate America short program Friday night with 69.50 points, building on her second-place finish from last season’s world championships.

Japan’s Mai Mihara, making her Grand Prix Series debut at 17, was second at 65.75, and U.S. champion Gracie Gold third at 64.87.

The free skate will determine the champion Saturday at Sears Centre Arena (live on NBC and the NBC Sports app at 4:30 p.m. ET). Full results are here.

Wagner performed with a fierce and determined style, delivering a technically solid and entertaining program to “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurhythmics.

“I capitalized on the momentum (from worlds) going into the summer,” said Wagner, the 2012 Skate America winner. “It inspired me to train even harder than I had been because it showed me that my training got me onto that podium. It motivated me and made it a realistic goal to get onto that Olympic podium, and I can almost taste it. It’s a totally new season. I’m hopefully a different athlete from that Worlds event and I think it’s just about building on that from here on out.”

Mihara fell during her warmup, which she said relaxed her during her performance.

“I think for my first Grand Prix event, I did a good job,” she said.

Gold, coming off a disappointing fourth-place finish in the world championships, fell on her triple flip, but otherwise was solid in her performance to a tango.

“I had a hiccup on the triple flip, but I went after everything,” Gold said. “I just need to keep working on the program and just keep getting it out there.”

Gold said the months after the world championships were difficult and affected her training.

“It was a pretty hard summer,” she said. “I had trouble getting going and getting my feet under me for some reason. I felt I had let myself down. No one else felt the intense shame that I felt, but it was just so internal that I had trouble getting back out there. But as soon as I got the momentum going, I’ve been feeling excellent.”

Three-time World champion Mao Asada of Japan, hampered by a knee injury, was fifth.

In pairs, Russia’s Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov took a commanding lead program with a score of 75.24. Americans Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier, who missed last season with a knee injury to Denney, were second at 67.29, and Canadians Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau followed at 66.49.

Tarasova and Morozov, fifth at the world championships, received high marks on their opening triple twist as well as their lifts, spins and footwork.

“Today we have a short program we did well,” Morozov said. “We have a personal best and were glad to have this moment.”

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