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

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Karen Chen breaks U.S. Champs scoring record; Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold trail

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KANSAS CITY — A skater broke the U.S. Championships women’s short program scoring record Thursday night, but it wasn’t Ashley Wagner or Gracie Gold.

Karen Chen, a 17-year-old former junior star who struggled the last two years, tallied 72.82 points at the Sprint Center to lead going into Saturday’s free skate (8 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Mirai Nagasu, a 2010 Olympian, is second, .87 of a point behind.

That leaves Wagner and Gold, who combined to win the last five U.S. titles, in third and fifth, respectively.

This is concerning for Wagner (1.88 behind Chen) and Gold (7.97 behind) given U.S. Figure Skating can send three women to worlds in two months. That selection will be made this weekend, primarily — but not totally — based off U.S. Championships results.

Tessa Hong is in fourth place, but at 14 years old is too young for senior worlds.

Full results are here.

Though Wagner and Gold are usually higher placed, the biggest surprise was Chen.

“My body’s still trembling right now,” she said, two hours after her performance.

Chen skated a clean program Thursday, rare for her in the last couple of seasons. Chen burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old two years ago, finishing third at nationals behind Wagner and Gold.

She was too young to be selected for the 2015 Worlds team. Little has been heard from Chen since.

She dropped to eighth at the 2016 U.S. Championships and came into Kansas City as the seventh-ranked U.S. woman this season. Struggling to find comfortable boots — a common skater problem — has plagued her. She went through 14 pairs in a four-month stretch.

“Everyone has doubts, and I certainly do as well,” said Chen, who choreographed her short program. “But I just kept pushing and telling myself that I’m gaining more experience, I’m learning about everything in the process and I’m just going to keep getting better.”

Wagner bounced back from her last outing — her worst Grand Prix finish in 25 career starts — with a decent program. She needed to save a double Axel near the end of her short. The 2016 World silver medalist was the pre-event favorite.

“People do not understand how difficult of a position I am in,” said Wagner, a 25-year-old bidding to become the oldest U.S. women’s champion in 90 years. “It might seem like I’m on top of the world, or second from being top of the world, but this is a very tough position to be in. It’s mentally been weighing on my shoulders all season. To be able to come out and show people I am a fighter, I’m really proud of that.”

Gold needed to show a fighting spirit given her well-publicized disaster of a fall season. And she did. Her only miss in the short program was doubling a planned triple flip.

“I can feel a huge improvement as a skater. I think everyone can see it,” Gold said. “I have made comebacks before. This doesn’t feel like a major comeback in some ways, because I felt pretty solid. … A long program is worth a lot of points, and I can certainly deliver some good long programs. I kind of feel like I’m due for a good one.”

If Gold doesn’t improve in the free skate, she could be left off the worlds team for the first time in her senior career. However, Gold believes her strong credentials in recent seasons merit consideration.

“We’ve seen different controversies where people aren’t on the [nationals] podium, and they’re still selected for events,” Gold said. “Michelle Kwan has not gone to nationals and been selected for an Olympic team [in 2006]. I believe that I deserve to be on the world team, but I’m not on the selection committee. Of course, every athlete feels like they should be on the world team.”

Earlier Thursday, the pairs short program produced surprise leaders.

The U.S. Championships continue Friday with the short dance and men’s short program. A full broadcast schedule is here.

MORE: U.S. Figure Skating boss wants Russia out of PyeongChang

Women’s Short Program
1. Karen Chen — 72.82
2. Mirai Nagasu — 71.95
3. Ashley Wagner — 70.94
4. Tessa Hong — 65.02
5. Gracie Gold — 64.85

 

Gwen Jorgensen pregnant, to sit out 2017 triathlon season

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 20: USA's Gwen Jorgensen followed by Switzerland's Nicola Spirig Hug (L) compete in the running portion of the women's triathlon at Fort Copacabana during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 20, 2016.(Photo by Jeff Pachoud-Pool/Getty Images)
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Olympic triathlon champion Gwen Jorgensen is pregnant and will not compete this year.

“Just kind of take this year a little bit easier,” Jorgensen said in a video posted on Facebook on Thursday.

The baby is due Aug. 3, according to Jorgensen’s social media.

Jorgensen, 30, became the first U.S. Olympic triathlon champion in Rio after going in as the heavy favorite. She has said for months that she planned to take time off to have a baby before returning to defend her Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.

Swiss Nicola Spirig, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist and 2016 silver medalist, is reportedly expecting a child in May.

In Jorgensen and Spirig’s absences, the top triathletes going into the season are defending world champion Flora Duffy of Bermuda, U.S. Olympians Katie Zaferes and Sarah True and Britons Vicky Holland and Helen Jenkins.

Jorgensen’s last competition was the New York City Marathon on Nov. 6, when she finished 14th in her first running race longer than 10 miles.

The World Triathlon Series kicks off in Abu Dhabi the first weekend of March.

MORE: Triathlon federation boss wants Olympic races shortened