Bode Miller

Bode Miller nearly fastest in Bormio downhill training

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Bode Miller began laying the groundwork for what could be a spectacular weekend, finishing second in the opening downhill training run in snow-swept Bormio, Italy on Friday.

Miller is coming off his best performance in a downhill this season, having placed fifth in Val Gardena a week ago. He was just .15 seconds off landing on the podium on the Saslong classic.

In Bormio, he found himself .20 seconds behind Italy’s Christof Innerhofer, who logged the fastest time of the day on the Stelvio course on which he posted the first of his six career World Cup victories in December of 2008.

“It’s always good to be back in Bormio,” Innerhofer told FIS. “My first big successes, my first victory and my first podium on this slope so I have great memories from the Stelvio. I am having fun this week as I know I can do really well.”

Miller has been solid throughout his career on this slope, winning the downhill in 2007. He has also finished fourth twice and fifth twice, most recently in 2011 which is the last time he raced there.

Overall, it was a solid showing in training by the Americans as Steve Nyman finished ninth, Travis Ganong came in 17th and Marco Sullivan finished 19th. A second training run will be contested Saturday, with the race slated for Sunday beginning at 5:45 am ET.

Conditions have been a great concern as heavy snowfalls at the top of the mountain forced organizers to lower the original starting position. While snow was falling at elevation, rain was altering the surface at the bottom section of the course.

Travel to Bormio was also an issue for some athletes. Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, who finished third in the training run behind Innerhofer and Miller and leads the World Cup overall standings, described his nightmarish trek to the event on his Facebook page.

“Another classic birthday celebration,” Svindal wrote. “I spent almost the whole day alone in my car fighting Italian traffic and a snow storm. The 26th is always travel day to Bormio ITA for the Christmas downhill race. Bormio is one of the hardest places in Europe to get too. There are no close airports and you have to cross at least one mountain pass to get here.

“My first attempt was Passo del Tonale that they decided to close down just as I got there. That meant going back the way I came, about 2 hours plus the 4 hour detour around the mountains. Like I said, another classic 26th of December and birthday celebration! But luckily I have plenty of other days that are sweet(!), so I’ll take it.”

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Coaches to receive medals at World Track and Field Championships

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Coaches will receive medals at the World Track and Field Championships for the first time this summer.

London will host the 16th edition of the event in 100 days.

Coaches’ medals will be based on similar themes to athlete medals but will look different.

“The medals, gifted to successful athletes once they return from their ceremony, will be for them to hand to their coach or significant advisor in recognition of the unique and valued working relationship between athlete and coach,” the IAAF said in a press release.

Coaches do not receive Olympic medals.

The U.S. Olympic Committee established the Order of Ikkos medals starting with the 2008 Beijing Games, allowing medal-winning athletes to acknowledge one coach.

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MORE: What to watch at Drake Relays, Penn Relays

What to watch at Drake Relays, Penn Relays

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Olympic gold medalists ramp up their track and field seasons at the Penn Relays and Drake Relays, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold this weekend.

Athletes are working toward the U.S. Championships in June and the world championships in August.

First, the historic Penn Relays will air on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold on Friday (5:30-6:30 p.m. ET) and Saturday (12:30-3 p.m. ET).

USA vs. The World in men’s and women’s 4x100m, 4x400m and sprint medley relays will air live on Saturday from Franklin Field in Philadelphia. A full schedule is here.

The U.S. teams are led by Olympic relay champions English Gardner and Natasha Hastings. The full roster is here.

Rio Olympic rematches highlight the individual-event fields at the Drake Relays in Des Moines on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold from 3-5 p.m ET on Saturday. A full schedule is here.

Perhaps no field is deeper than the 100m hurdles. World-record holder Keni Harrison takes on Rio silver and bronze medalists Kristi Castlin and Nia Ali, plus 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson.

The 110m hurdles contingent is strong as well. It features the last two Olympic champions, Jamaican Omar McLeod and American Aries Merritt, plus 2013 World champion David Oliver.

Grenada’s Kirani James and American LaShawn Merritt, who earned silver and bronze in Rio, go head-to-head again in the 400m at Drake.

The men’s 1500m is headlined by Rio Olympic 800m bronze medalist Clayton Murphy and London Olympic 1500m silver medalist Leo Manzano.

Rio bronze medalist Jenny Simpson races individually for the first time this year in the women’s 1500m.

That field also includes New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin, who gained fame of her own in Rio. Hamblin and American Abbey D’Agostino fell in an Olympic 5000m heat and helped each other make it to the finish line. Both were praised for their sportsmanship.

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