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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Lindsey Vonn gets bad luck, Mikaela Shiffrin misses gate in super-G

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Neither Lindsey Vonn nor Mikaela Shiffrin made the podium, but Swiss Lara Gut notched her first victory Sunday since a major knee injury.

Gut, the 2016 World Cup overall champion who tore an ACL in February, topped a World Cup super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, by .14 over Italian Johanna Schnarf.

Austrian Nicole Schmidhofer was third. Full results are here.

Vonn dropped to sixth, .37 behind, dropped a couple of expletives in the finish corral and posted on social media afterward that she caught her strongest wind gust in more than 400 career starts.

“I’m not mad; I’m just a little bit frustrated,” Vonn said. “Sometimes this happens in ski racing where the races aren’t really fair. The wind comes. The light comes. The clouds come. But I tried my best. I’m happy with my skiing. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t very lucky today. Hopefully I can get some of this luck and take it with me to February [and the Olympics] and get some better conditions.”

Vonn placed second and first in downhills in Cortina on Friday and Saturday, confirming she’s a favorite to become the oldest female Olympic Alpine medalist next month.

Shiffrin was off her line early in Sunday’s run and eventually missed a gate, screaming out of frustration.

She is still cutting her teeth in the speed events of downhill and super-G and was third and seventh in the previous two races.

“The problem was with my [pre-race course] inspection, and I’m not exactly sure what we can do for me to be better prepared for super-Gs,” Shiffrin said, according to The Associated Press. “One of my biggest issues right now is still switching from the timing of downhill turns to super-G turns.”

Laurenne Ross became the sixth U.S. female Alpine skier to qualify for the Olympic team thanks to a previous top-10. Ross, the second-best U.S. speed racer behind Vonn last season, came back from blowing out her right knee in a March 27 crash.

The World Cup moves to Kronplatz, Italy, on Tuesday for a giant slalom, where Shiffrin will be favored (full Alpine season broadcast schedule here).

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2018 U.S. Men’s Olympic Team General Manager Jim Johannson dies at 53

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Jim Johannson, the general manager of the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team, has died on the eve of the Pyeongchang Games. He was 53.

Johannson passed away in his sleep Sunday morning, according to USA Hockey. Executive director Pat Kelleher said the organization is “beyond shocked and profoundly saddened” by the loss of the Rochester, Minnesota native.

“As accomplished as Jim was in hockey, he was the absolute best, most humble, kind and caring person you could ever hope to meet,” Kelleher said in a release. “His impact on our sport and more importantly the people and players in our sport have been immeasurable. Our condolences go out to his entire family, but especially to his loving wife Abby and their young daughter Ellie.”

Johannson’s role in selecting this year’s Olympic team was his most high-profile job in a career spent in hockey. He also played for the U.S. in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics.

The United States faces Slovenia in its Pyeongchang opener on Feb. 14.

“There are few like Jimmy,” said Ron DeGregorio, chairman of the board of USA Hockey. “Our sport was so lucky to have him. He was as good of a person you’ll meet and he played such a significant role in helping move our sport forward. Today is a tough day for everyone.”

Johannson began working for USA Hockey in 2000 after spending five years as the general manager of the Twin Cities Vulcans in the United States Hockey League. He was promoted to assistant executive director of hockey operations in 2007, overseeing the organization’s efforts in fielding teams for international competition.

He played college hockey at Wisconsin and helped the Badgers win the NCAA championship as a freshman. He was selected by Hartford in the seventh round of the 1982 draft, but never played in the NHL.

“When we heard of JJ’s passing, we are reminded of what an enjoyable person he was to be around, and also what he meant to USA Hockey and hockey worldwide,” Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula, who have a strong connection to USA Hockey, said in a release.

“We should all strive to do our jobs and treat people as JJ did. Jim Johannson, you have moved on, but you will not be forgotten. We will miss you.”

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