Lindsey Vonn

Lindsey Vonn 12th in Val d’Isere downhill training

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If Lindsey Vonn‘s goal is to make a World Cup podium before the Sochi Olympics, she’ll have to improve one second after her training run Wednesday to do it in Val d’Isere, France.

The Olympic downhill champion placed 12th in the first training run for Saturday’s race. Vonn completed the course in 1 minute, 50.53 seconds, .97 behind third-place Carolina Ruiz Castillo of Spain on Wednesday. Maria Hoefl-Riesch was fastest in 1:49.30.

Vonn, 29, returned from major right knee injuries in Lake Louise, Alberta, two weeks ago and competed in three races, improving each day with a 40th and an 11th in downhills and a fifth in a super-G.

She told reporters after her final race there that she might race one or two more times before the Olympics in February.

“I want to make sure I at least get on the podium once, if not win before going into Sochi,” she said Dec. 8. “For me mentally I really want to have that in my back pocket.”

The racers will have two more days of training before the downhill race Saturday. There is a giant slalom Sunday, but Vonn is not expected to enter that event and may not do giant slalom at all this season.

If Vonn races a World Cup again after Val d’Isere, it likely would not come until January because there are no speed races the rest of 2013.

There are downhills in Altenmarkt, Austria; Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy; and Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on consecutive weekends beginning Jan. 11.

Vonn has competed at Val d’Isere once since 2010, but her track record there is spectacular. She’s won nine of 18 career races there, including World Championships in the downhill and super-G in 2009.

World giant slalom champion tears ACL

WATCH LIVE: Big Air at Fenway — 8:30 p.m. ET

Fenway Big Air
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Fenway Park will host some of the world’s best freeskiers in the one-of-a-kind Big Air at Fenway, live on NBC Sports Live Extra on Friday night.

Big air skiers will descend from a ramp that’s four times higher than the Green Monster inside the hallowed Boston Red Sox home.

Ski big air is most like slopestyle of the current Olympic disciplines, except skiers get one jump per run.

WATCH LIVE: Big Air at Fenway — 8:30 p.m. ET

On Thursday, Canadian Max Parrot and American Julia Marino won the snowboard big air competitions at Fenway Park.

Big Air at Fenway coverage will conclude with an NBC show on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET.

MORE: Olympic champ suffers concussion at Big Air at Fenway practice

Lillehammer Youth Winter Olympics open with homages to 1994

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In an homage to the Lillehammer 1994 Winter Olympics, Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway lit the Lillehammer Youth Winter Olympic cauldron to cap the Opening Ceremony on Friday night.

The princess’ father, Crown Prince Haakon, lit the 1994 Olympic cauldron in a very similar fashion (video here). Princess Ingrid Alexandra was born in 2004.

The Opening Ceremony, held outdoors at a ski jump (same venue as 1994) in sub-freezing temperatures, included a speech from International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.

“I’m just a little bit too old to compete in the YOG,” Bach said, urging listeners to use the hashtag #IloveYOG during the nine-day Winter Games.

The ceremony included Olympic legends, such as 2010 figure skating gold medalist Yuna Kim and eight-time Olympic cross-country champion Bjorn Daehlie carrying the Olympic flag.

Marit Bjoergen, a 10-time Olympic medalist cross-country skier, handed the Olympic flame to the princess.

NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will air coverage of the Opening Ceremony on Saturday at 12:30 a.m. ET, plus daily coverage throughout the Winter Games. A full broadcast schedule is here.

MORE: Two years to Pyeongchang: Updates on U.S. Olympic medalists from Sochi