Lindsey Vonn, Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods in Val d’Isere, plans to support Lindsey Vonn on road to Sochi Olympics

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It looks like Lindsey Vonn will have company for her downhill race in Val d’Isere, France, on Saturday — boyfriend Tiger Woods.

Woods was spotted in Val d’Isere on Friday, a day after a blog was posted on his website saying he would put his “clubs away for a while” to spend time with his kids and support Vonn as she prepares for the Sochi Olympics.

“We see our sports through the same looking glass in how we approach them,” the blog read. “We both work very hard and are prepared for our seasons. And when we’re ready to go, we give it everything we possibly have and there’s no holding back. I think that’s some of our commonalities. But she has to be way more aggressive in her sport than I have to be in mine. You’re trying to make your way down a mountain at 80-plus mph, and you have to have the adrenaline and the aggressiveness to do it.

“But I think it’s the preparation that we both appreciate and the fact that we can do it time and time again, and we’ve done it for a long period of time. It’s not a flash in the pan, and you just don’t do it for one year — she’s done it for 13 years, and I’ve done it for 18 years. As far as Lindsey competing in Sochi, we’re very hopeful. It all depends on how that knee is.”

Vonn has said Woods has helped her return from major knee surgery because he’s gone through it before.

“Having experienced reconstructive surgery on my knee and the ensuing rehab, and the amount of pain associated with it, it’s really hard to explain to anybody unless you’ve been through it,” the blog said. “And then coming back on it athletically, to trust that it’s going to be there, that’s a whole different ballgame. I’ve had my share of experiences in that regard — unfortunately — but I think it helps her in a sense because she can bounce ideas off me about what to expect. It is a frustrating process and really difficult to go through.”

Woods and Vonn have both been asked if Woods will be attending the Sochi Olympics and have said they are unsure, citing his schedule and Vonn’s status not being 100 percent for the Games. Though Vonn appears more and more likely to compete with every training run.

Lindsey Vonn ponders World Cup career wins record

Yuzuru Hanyu opens Olympic season with record score

Yuzuru Hanyu
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A sore knee didn’t hold Yuzuru Hanyu back. A record score to open his Olympic season.

The Olympic and world champion from Japan hit a pair of quadruple jumps in his short program at the Autumn Classic, a lower-level event in Montreal.

He was rewarded with 112.72 points, the highest short program score recorded under the 13-year-old judging system. Video is here.

It looked like a home competition for Hanyu.

Upon finishing, he bowed toward one set of bleachers (maybe a dozen rows) at the Sportsplexe Pierrefonds. More than two dozen Japanese flags made it hard to see most of the faces.

He bettered Javier Fernández, a two-time world champion and training partner, by 11.52 points. Fernández also landed two quadruple jumps to tally 101.2.

Full scores will be here upon the conclusion of the short program. The free skate is Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. A live stream is here.

Hanyu now owns the three highest short program scores under the 13-year-old system. The other two were set in the 2015-16 season.

Showdowns like Hanyu-Fernández are usually reserved for, at the earliest, the Grand Prix series in late October and November.

Hanyu and Fernández are very familiar with each other, having shared a coach in Canadian Brian Orser, the 1988 Olympic silver medalist, since 2012. They train in Toronto.

In that time, Hanyu became the first Japanese man to win an Olympic title (and the second teen from any nation to do it). He followed it up with world titles later in 2014 and this year.

Fernández achieved unfathomable success for a Spanish skater — world titles in 2015 and 2016, overtaking Hanyu in the free skate both times.

In PyeongChang, Hanyu can become the first man to repeat as Olympic champion since Dick Button in 1952. Fernández can become the third Spaniard to earn a Winter Olympic medal of any color in any sport, and the first since 1992.

The figure skating season continues next week with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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USOC letter assures Olympians about South Korea security

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The U.S. Olympic Committee’s security chief sent a letter to potential Winter Olympians saying there are no indications that recent developments between the U.S. and North Korea have compromised security in South Korea.

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press shortly after it was sent Friday, makes no suggestion that the U.S. is considering skipping the PyeongChang Winter Games for security reasons.

But Chief Security Officer Nicole Deal does write that provocations that have been volleyed between the United States and North Korea are likely to persist for the foreseeable future, and “should not be dismissed as insignificant nor feared as precursors of an inevitable conflict.”

The letter comes at the end of a week in which France’s sports minister suggested the country’s athletes would stay home if security could not be guaranteed.

The International Olympic Committee, trying to calm concerns, reiterated that in conversations with high-level officials in China and South Korea, none have expressed doubt about the Winter Games proceeding as scheduled, next February.

The USOC also sent out a public statement Friday from CEO Scott Blackmun.

“We will continue to work with our State Department and local organizers to ensure that our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe,” he said.

The letter, sent to athletes, national governing bodies and other Olympic leaders in the United States, said the USOC’s security division is operating as “business as usual for our security planning and preparations.”

Deal writes that the USOC is reviewing crisis management plans that address a range of potential scenarios “to ensure our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe.”

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