Ted Ligety

Ted Ligety, Bode Miller go 1-2 in Beaver Creek giant slalom (video)

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Ted Ligety dominated as usual. Bode Miller looked like the Miller of old.

The Americans went one-two in a World Cup giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Sunday. It marked the first time the U.S. put two men on a World Cup podium since Jan. 17, 2009.

The world champion Ligety won in a two-run time of 2 minutes, 35.77 seconds. He beat Miller by a comfortable 1.32 seconds. Miller was a half-second faster than third-place Austrian Marcel Hirscher, the reigning World Cup overall champion.

“It’s cool having Bode back,” Ligety said on NBCSN. “He just showed a tremendous amount of speed, for sure. He’s so up and down in training. What he just did there was really awesome. It’s cool to finally have another American, right up there pushing me in training and racing.”

Ligety won his fourth straight World Cup giant slalom dating to last season. The last man to win four straight giant slaloms was Italian Alberto Tomba in 1991.

The last man to win five straight was Swede Ingemar Stenmark, who won all 10 giant slaloms in 1978-79 and is the all time World Cup wins leader with 86.

Ligety had plenty of margin for error in the second run after taking a 1.1-second lead over Miller in the morning run.

“Second run was tough,” Ligety said on NBCSN. “It got pretty dark again, pretty bumpy, too. It’s nice to have a 1.2 cushion, so you don’t have to take too many risks. I’m pretty psyched.”

Miller tried to put pressure on Ligety by posting the fastest second run in the 30-man field, but Ligety, the final skier, was .22 faster in a conservative run through tough conditions on a snowy afternoon.

“Ted is the most clutch skier there’s been,” Miller said on NBCSN. “When he has a first-run lead, he loses it less than anybody. So I wanted to make sure I put him in the position of knowing that I had come down and stuck a run. He lived up to it again today.”

Ligety, 29, has now won 19 career World Cup races, all giant slaloms. In February, he became the first man in 45 years to win three gold medals at a single World Championships.

Miller, 36, posted his first top 10 of the season in his sixth race. The five-time Olympic medalist missed all of last season after undergoing knee surgery.

Miller’s last World Cup podium was Feb. 3, 2012. His last World Cup giant slalom podium was March 17, 2007.

Miller won an Olympic silver medal in the giant slalom in 2002, but he’s become more of a speed-event skier over the last decade. The U.S. went one-two in a World Cup giant slalom for the first time in eight years.

Back then, it was Miller and Daron Rahlves. Like Ligety, Miller is excited to have competition from a countryman as Sochi nears.

“It’s the best,” Miller said on NBCSN. “Me and Daron had that. Ted’s been so strong now, for a bunch of years, in GS. I just haven’t had it where it needed to be, injury wise or intensity wise or conditioning wise.

“It’s been a long time coming for us. It was a big challenge for me to come back.”

The Alpine skiing World Cup continues in Val d’Isere, France, next weekend. They will race a giant slalom Saturday and a slalom Sunday.

Beaver Creek Giant Slalom
1. Ted Ligety (USA) 2:35.77
2. Bode Miller (USA) 2:37.09
3. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) 2:37.59
4. Mathieu Faivre (FRA) 2:38.61
5. Alexis Pinturault (FRA) 2:38.71
6. Carlo Janka (SUI) 2:38.78
7. Felix Neureuther (GER) 2:38.82
8. Leif Kristian Haugen (NOR) 2:38.83
9. Stefan Luitz (GER) 2:38.98
10. Roberto Nani (ITA) 2:39.00
33. Tim Jitloff (USA)
36. Brennan Rubie (USA)
44. Warner Nickerson (USA)
51. Robby Kelley (USA)

Video: Lindsey Vonn ‘ready for Sochi’ after best comeback result

U.S. Olympic Committee to hire infectious disease specialists for Zika

Christ the Redeemer
AP
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The U.S. Olympic Committee will hire two infectious disease specialists to advise potential Olympians who are worried about the Zika outbreak in Brazil.

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun sent a letter Wednesday to all possible Olympians, acknowledging the growing worries over the virus.

“I know that the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil is of concern to many of you,” Blackmun wrote. “I want to emphasize that it is to us, as well, and that your well-being in Rio this summer is our highest priority.”

The letter goes on to spell out much of the information that’s already been relayed by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The virus is spread by mosquitoes. About 20 percent of those infected display mild symptoms, including body aches and rash. But pregnant women and those considering getting pregnant have greater reason for concern because the virus can cause microcephaly, a birth defect marked by an abnormally small head.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated earlier this week, U.S. soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo said if the Olympics were being held now, she wouldn’t go.

Blackmun told The Associated Press that Solo’s comments “made us realize we need to provide concise and accurate info for our athletes.”

At least one of the two infectious disease specialists will be a woman, Blackmun said.

In addition to those two hires, the USOC will post updates to its website at USOC.org/RioTravelUpdates.

The USOC’s decision to hire the specialists was first reported by USA Today.

The letter, addressed to prospective members of the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic delegation, says “no matter how much we prepare … there will always be risk associated with international competition. Each country, each venue and each discipline will present different risks and require different mitigation strategies.”

Blackmun said the USOC is monitoring the frequent updates regarding Zika. The letter makes note that “rapid testing to determine if an individual is infected is expected in the near future.”

“First and foremost, we want to make sure our athletes have accurate information because they’re concerned,” Blackmun said. “Based on what we know now, the primary threat is to unborn children.”

MORE: Zika won’t stop Olympics; only war has done that, historian says

Alex Morgan scores 12 seconds into U.S. Olympic qualifying romp (video)

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Alex Morgan wasted no time igniting the U.S. women’s soccer team’s Olympic qualifying campaign.

The striker scored the first of her two goals 12 seconds into the Americans’ CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament-opening 5-0 rout of Costa Rica on Wednesday in Frisco, Texas.

It’s believed to be the fastest goal in U.S. Soccer history, according to U.S. Soccer.

“I think we shocked Costa Rica’s confidence a little bit,” Morgan said on NBC Sports Live Extra. “We’ve been working on that play, so I’m glad that we executed it perfectly.”

Crystal DunnCarli Lloyd and Christen Press also scored for the Americans, who are ranked No. 1 in the world. Costa Rica is ranked No. 34.

“Overall, we brought the fight,” Lloyd said on Live Extra. “We’ve got to put this one to bed and move on.”

The first three goals came in the first 15 minutes.

GOAL VIDEOS: Dunn | LloydMorgan’s second | Press

The U.S. is in one of two CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament groups with Costa Rica, Mexico (ranked No. 26) and Puerto Rico (No. 108).

It plays Mexico next on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Live Extra. Mexico crushed Puerto Rico 6-0 earlier Wednesday.

The top two nations per group will advance to the tournament semifinals, and the Feb. 19 semifinal winners advance to the Rio Games in August.

The U.S. is heavily favored to qualify for Rio, where it would go for its fourth straight Olympic title. The next-best North American team is ranked No. 11 (Canada, which is in the opposite CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament group).

If the U.S. and Canada win their respective groups, they would not have to play each other to qualify for the Olympics.

The U.S. roster for Olympic qualifying includes 13 of the 23 players from the World Cup, led by Olympic champions Morgan, Lloyd and Hope Solo, who blanked Costa Rica on Wednesday.

All 15 matches of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament will be streamed live on NBC Sports Live Extra.

MORE: No Olympics for Messi, but another Argentine star striker possible

2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship Schedule

Frisco, Texas – Toyota Stadium
Houston, Texas – BBVA Compass Stadium
Times U.S. Central (U.S. Eastern in parentheses)

FIRST ROUND
Group A: USA, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Costa Rica
Group B: Canada, Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana

Wednesday, Feb. 10 (Frisco)
Mexico 6, Puerto Rico 0                                 5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
USA 5, Costa Rica 0                                    7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.)

Thursday, Feb. 11 (Houston)
Guatemala vs. Trinidad & Tobago                  5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
Canada vs. Guyana                                           7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.)

Saturday, Feb. 13 (Frisco)
Costa Rica vs. Puerto Rico                              12:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m.)
USA vs. Mexico                                                 3 p.m. (4 p.m.) NBCSN at 9:30 p.m. ET

Sunday, Feb. 14 (Houston)
Guyana vs. Guatemala                                     12:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m.)
Trinidad vs. Canada                                          3 p.m. (4 p.m.)

Monday, Feb. 15 (Frisco)
Mexico vs. Costa Rica                                       5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
USA vs. Puerto Rico                                          7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.) LIVE on NBCSN

Tuesday, Feb. 16 (Houston)
Trinidad & Tobago vs. Guyana                         5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
Canada vs. Guatemala                                      7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.)

SEMIFINALS

Friday, Feb. 19 (Houston)
Group B winner vs. Group A runner-up          4:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m.) ***
Group A winner vs. Group B runner-up          7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.) ***

FINAL

Sunday, Feb. 21 (Houston)
Semifinal winners                                            4 p.m. (5 p.m.) NBCSN at 11 p.m.

***USA’s semifinal, should the USA advance, will air LIVE on NBCSN