Lindsey Vonn

Lindsey Vonn says she’s ready for Sochi after best comeback result (video)

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Lindsey Vonn improved for the second straight day in her first races in 10 months.

The Olympic downhill champion placed fifth in a World Cup super-G in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Sunday. Vonn skied the course in 1 minute, 23.71 seconds. Winner Lara Gut of Switzerland was .85 of a second faster.

Vonn, in her first races since blowing out her right knee at the World Championships in February, finished 40th and 11th in downhills Friday and Saturday.

“I know I can win again,” Vonn told reporters after finishing Sunday. “I’m ready for Sochi.”

She was 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.

“Huge step in the right direction,” Vonn said, according to USA Today. “A perfect way to end the weekend. I have a lot of self confidence now. Every day I got more and more aggressive, more confident and I feel great.”

The Alpine skiing World Cup continues in St. Moritz, Switzerland, with a super-G on Saturday and a giant slalom Sunday. It has not been reported if Vonn will race in St. Moritz.

Vonn said she may do as little as one more race before Sochi to avoid risking long-term damage on her knee, which she reinjured in a Nov. 19 training crash. She’s skiing on a partially torn ACL and needs offseason surgery.

“I do need a couple more stops,” Vonn said, according to USA Today. “I want to make sure I at least get on the podium once, if not win before going into Sochi. For me mentally I really want to have that in my back pocket.”

Gut won for the fourth time in eight races this season. She’s won both World Cup super-Gs and is the overall World Cup leader.

Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather was second for the second straight day, .03 behind Gut. Austrian Anna Fenninger was third.

German Maria Hoefl-Riesch was attempting to sweep the Lake Louise races after downhill wins Friday and Saturday but tumbled to 19th.

American Leanne Smith took sixth, her first top 10 of the season. Julia Mancuso, the reigning world bronze medalist in the super-G, was 17th, her first top 20 in seven races this season.

Lake Louise super-G
1. Lara Gut (SUI) 1:22.86
2. Tina Weirather (LIE) 1:22.89
3. Anna Fenninger (AUT) 1:23.19
4. Elisabeth Goergl (AUT) 1:23.64
5. Lindsey Vonn (USA) 1:23.71
6. Leanne Smith (USA) 1:23.75
7. Kajsa Kling (SWE) 1:23.87
7. Viktoria Rebensburg (GER) 1:23.87
9. Verena Stuffer (ITA) 1:23.97
10. Marie-Michele Gagnon (CAN) 1:24.08
17. Julia Mancuso (USA) 1:24.53
18. Stacey Cook (USA) 1:24.55
32. Julia Ford (USA) 1:25.38
35. Jacqueline Wiles (USA) 1:25.48
41. Laurenne Ross (USA) 1:25.76

Jesse Owens’ gold medal auctioned for record price

Alison, Bruno rout Phil Dalhausser, Nick Lucena in FIVB World Tour Finals title match

Alison, Bruno
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Brazil looks golden in beach volleyball, 10 months ahead of the Rio Olympics.

Brazilian pairs swept the FIVB World Tour Finals in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Sunday, capped by World champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt crushing 2008 Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena 21-13, 21-15 in a meeting of arguably the world’s two best teams.

Earlier, Larissa and Talita beat Germans Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst 21-17, 21-18 in the women’s final. Larissa and Talita have won 11 of the 16 international tournaments they’ve played since teaming up in July 2014.

Perhaps more dominant are Alison, a 2012 Olympic silver medalist with the legendary Emanuel, and Schmidt, nephew of Olympic basketball all-time scoring leader Oscar Schmidt. They swept the three biggest tournament titles of 2015 — the World Tour Finals plus the World Championships in the Netherlands in July and the World Series of Beach Volleyball in Long Beach, Calif., in August, during a stretch when they won all five FIVB World Tour events in those two months.

Brazil last earned an Olympic beach volleyball title in 2004, with Americans taking three of the four gold medals since. Volleyball, indoor and beach, is arguably the No. 2 sport in Brazil behind soccer, and the 2016 Olympic tournaments on Copacabana Beach will be highly anticipated.

Alison, an imposing 6-foot-8 figure nicknamed “Mammoth” with a matching tattoo, and Bruno also beat Dalhausser and Lucena in the World Series of Beach Volleyball final Aug. 23.

That tournament marked the American duo’s international return after Dalhausser and partner and two-time Olympian Sean Rosenthal split. The Floridians Dalhausser, 35, and Lucena, 36, had previously played together through the 2005 season.

On Wednesday, Dalhausser and Lucena beat Alison and Bruno in three sets in pool play. The two pairs had played 209 points together over two matches going into Sunday’s final, with the Americans holding a 105-104 points won advantage.

Three-time Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings missed the World Tour Finals after undergoing season-ending right shoulder surgery, while partner and Olympic silver medalist April Ross teamed with sub partner Lauren Fendrick and lost in the quarterfinals Friday.

The FIVB World Tour season continues with a tournament in Puerto Vallerta, Mexico, this week.

MORE BEACH VOLLEYBALL: PHOTOS: Alison/Bruno, Dalhausser/Lucena play match on helipad

WATCH LIVE: Possible Olympic final preview in FIVB World Tour Finals — 2:30 p.m. ET

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The World champions will play beach volleyball’s hottest team Sunday in an intriguing FIVB Word Tour Finals championship match and possible Olympic final preview, live on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra.

Brazilians Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt established themselves as beach volleyball’s best team by winning every international tournament they entered this July and August, including the World Championship.

But the U.S. pair of Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena has been the talk of the sport since partnering in July for the first time since separating in 2005. The duo has only entered five FIVB World Tour events this year, but they have made four finals.

“We don’t consider them to be a new team,” Bruno said. “They already play together so well.”

WATCH LIVE: FIVB World Tour Finals — 2:30 p.m. ET

There are many similarities between the pairs.

Alison and Dalhausser are both intimidating blockers. Dalhausser has been named the FIVB World Tour’s best blocker six times, while Alison was recognized in 2011.

In fact, Lucena called Alison “a thicker version of Phil.” Alison, who is known as “Mammoth,” has 35 pounds on Dalhausser, the “Thin Beast.”

Bruno and Lucena are speedy defensive specialists. Dalhausser called Bruno, nephew of Olympic basketball’s all-time leading scorer Oscar Schmidt, the world’s best defender.

“Bruno might be better than me,” Lucena said, laughing, “but I am taller.”

Both Bruno and Lucena are listed at 6-foot-1.

Dalhausser also compared to Lucena to Todd Rogers, his 2008 Olympic gold medal partner. Dalhausser described Lucena as “more explosive” than Rogers, who was named the FIVB World Tour’s best defensive player three times.

“Todd was super competitive, and Nick is the same way,” Dalhausser said.

Alison and Bruno and Dalhausser and Lucena split their first two meetings (not counting a recent exhibition on a helipad). They’ve played 209 points. Alison and Bruno have won 104. Dalhausser and Lucena have won 105.

Alison and Bruno won the first clash, 21–16, 20–22, 15–13 in the World Series of Beach Volleyball final in Long Beach, Calif., on Aug. 23.

Then Dalhausser and Lucena won Wednesday, 18-21, 21-16, 15-11 in a pool-play match that Lucena called “the most competitive match we’ve played.”

Dalhausser and Lucena, who are both from Florida, are counting on the heat to be a third teammate in Fort Lauderdale.

“We have to wear out the big guy,” Dalhausser said, referring to Alison. “We hope it’s 150 degrees, and we will serve him every time.”

The winning team will receive $100,000. It is the biggest international first-place monetary prize ever.

“They are the best team in the world,” Lucena said. “We want to change that and show what we can do.”

On the women’s side, Brazilians Larissa Franca and Talita Antunes and Germans Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst advanced to Sunday’s final, which will be live on Universal Sports Network at 1:00 p.m. ET. Larissa and Talita have won 10 of the 15 international events they’ve played since debuting in July 2014.

Three-time Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings missed the World Tour Finals due to season-ending right shoulder surgery. Her partner, Olympic silver medalist April Ross, teamed with Lauren Fendrick this past week, and they lost in the quarterfinals.

MORE BEACH VOLLEYBALL: ‘Mammoth,’ ‘Magician,’ bring Brazil back atop beach volleyball