Lindsey Vonn

Lindsey Vonn stronger in second comeback race (video)

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Lindsey Vonn made major strides in less than 24 hours between her first two races since major knee surgery.

The Olympic downhill champion finished 11th in a downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, on Saturday afternoon.

On Friday, Vonn was 40th in another Lake Louise downhill, her first race since blowing out her right knee at the World Championships in February.

On Nov. 19, she partially tore the ACL in the same knee in a training crash.

On Saturday, German Maria Hoefl-Riesch won in 1 minute, 55.09 seconds. Hoefl-Riesch also won Friday’s downhill. Vonn was 3.19 seconds behind Hoefl-Riesch on Friday and 1.26 seconds behind her Saturday.

Vonn pumped her fist after finishing.

“That was much better. A lot more like it,” Vonn said, according to The Associated Press, in below-zero temperatures. “I’m just really happy with the improvements that I made from yesterday. And just in general, my whole body language was different. I was more aggressive and just more confident and comfortable.”

Vonn decided to race this weekend following a training run Wednesday. She said her right knee felt “stable,” though she skipped an opportunity at taking another training run Thursday. She said she would race with a knee brace.

“[Friday], it felt rusty,” Vonn said. “Just hadn’t done it in so long. I was too nervous.

“And today, it was much more like myself. I still made mistakes and it wasn’t my best skiing, but it’s a long way from where I was yesterday. Hopefully I can continue to improve.”

She’s skiing at a course nicknamed “Lake Lindsey” for her overwhelming success there. She had won the last seven World Cup races at Lake Louise before this weekend. She didn’t finish lower than second at a Lake Louise race from 2009 through 2012.

“At least you can ski,” Hoefl-Riesch, the 2011 World Cup overall champion, told Vonn after Saturday’s race, according to the AP. “Maybe it gets better.”

Vonn is expected to race in a super-G on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET in Lake Louise. Universal Sports will have coverage.

“Just need to continue improving and continue taking steps every day. It doesn’t take me long. I’m a fast learner,” Vonn said, according to the AP. “I need a couple of tries to kind of get the butterflies out and get the nerves to calm down. Now I feel like I’m in a really good place.”

Overall, the U.S. women’s speed team improved over its dismal early-season results.

Stacey Cook, who was fourth in last season’s World Cup downhill standings, was right behind Vonn in 12th. That’s Cook’s best finish this season.

Leanne Smith was 17th after taking 49th on Friday. Julia Mancuso improved five spots from 26th to 21st.

Lake Louise Downhill
1. Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) 1:55.09
2. Tina Weirather (LIE) 1:55.43
3. Anna Fenninger (AUT) 1:55.56
4. Maria Kaufmann-Abderhalden (SUI) 1:55.92
5. Elena Fanchini (ITA) 1:55.93
6. Tina Maze (SLO) 1:56.00
7. Comelia Huetter (AUT) 1:56.08
8. Kajsa Kling (SWE) 1:56.09
9. Dominique Gisin (SUI) 1:56.13
10. Elisabeth Goergl (AUT) 1:56.17
11. Lindsey Vonn (USA) 1:56.35
12. Stacey Cook (USA) 1:56.47
17. Leanne Smith (USA) 1:56.77
21. Julia Mancuso (USA) 1:56.86
31. Jacqueline Wiles (USA) 1:57.47
46. Julia Ford (USA) 1:58.43
50. Laurenne Ross (USA) 1:59.12

Ligety fifth in Beaver Creek super-G

Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas headline Secret Classic; Maggie Nichols out

Maggie Nichols
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World all-around champion Simone Biles and Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas are expected to compete at the Secret U.S. Classic on June 4, while World Championships teammate Maggie Nichols remains out after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery several weeks ago.

USA Gymnastics announced the field Thursday for the tune-up meet for the P&G Championships later in June and U.S. Olympic Trials in July.

Nichols is the only member of the seven-woman World Championships team who isn’t scheduled to compete at the Secret Classic in Hartford, Conn.

She is expected to be ready for the P&G Championships in St. Louis from June 23-26, an official from her gym said Thursday.

In early April, U.S. national team coordinator Martha Karolyi said Nichols was expected to be out four to six weeks, putting her in line to be ready in late May. Participation in the Secret Classic is not mandatory to be eligible for the Olympic team.

Nichols suffered the injury, a meniscus tear, on an Amanar vault landing in training, according to multiple reports.

The five-woman U.S. Olympic team will be named after the trials from July 8-10. The all-around champion at trials will clinch one of those five berths.

Nichols, an 18-year-old from Little Canada, Minn., is a favorite to make the Olympic team if healthy.

She was the only U.S. gymnast who competed in all four events in the World Championships team final Oct. 27. She earned a floor exercise bronze medal five days later.

Nichols opened her Olympic year by finishing second in the AT&T American Cup all-around behind Gabby Douglas on March 5.

Nichols was on the roster to compete at the Pacific Rim Championships from April 8-10 but was removed before the meet due to a slight knee injury, USA Gymnastics said.

She previously dislocated her left kneecap in summer 2014.

The men’s P&G Championships will also be held in Hartford, Conn., next week, with every major U.S. Olympic hopeful in the expected field. That includes London Olympians Danell LeyvaJohn OrozcoSam Mikulak and Jacob Dalton.

MORE: Gabby Douglas, mom had concerns before agreeing to TV series

Manny Pacquiao will not pursue Rio Olympics, reports say

Manny Pacquiao
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Manny Pacquiao has decided not to pursue boxing at the Rio Olympics, according to multiple reports.

Pacquiao chose to “prioritize his legislative duties,” the Philippines boxing federation’s executive director reportedly said Thursday. Pacquiao won a Philippine Senate seat earlier this month.

Pacquiao, the 37-year-old who may have fought for the last time April 9, reportedly previously said he was “thinking about” boxing in the Rio Games, that it would be “my honor” to do so and that he needed to ask the Filipino people about it.

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) could create a path for professional boxers to compete in the Olympics starting in Rio.

Pacquiao never boxed in previous Olympics, but he did carry the Philippines’ flag into the Beijing 2008 Opening Ceremony.

The Philippines has won nine Olympic medals, none gold.

MORE: Mike Tyson slams idea of pro boxers in Olympics