Alice McKennis

Alice McKennis to miss Olympics; internal problems for U.S. women’s team

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Another U.S. women’s Alpine skier pulled the plug on an Olympic bid Friday.

Alice McKennis ended her season after one World Cup race, citing continuing pain coming off a March 2 crash that fractured her right tibial plateau.

“I still have a lot of pain in my lower leg and that’s affected a lot of muscles in that area and that’s affecting my power,” McKennis said, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “In order to race World Cup at a safe and competitive level you need to be at or pretty close to 100 percent and I know that I’m not there now.”

McKennis, 24, finished 43rd in a downhill race in Val d’Isere, France, on Dec. 21. She had won a World Cup downhill in St. Anton, Austria, on Jan. 12, 2013, boosting her chances of not only making her second Olympic Team but also joining the medal-contender discussion.

“It’s pretty heartbreaking to miss Sochi, but I’ve already been to an Olympics and I’ve already participated,” said McKennis, who was disqualified for skiing off course in the 2010 Olympic downhill. “When I go to the Olympics next time, I want to be a contender and I want to know that I have a shot at a medal. Right now, I don’t feel like I have that shot.”

McKennis was one of six U.S. women to make a World Cup podium in at least one speed event last season. None have made a World Cup podium so far this season, and two, McKennis and Lindsey Vonn, are now out of Olympic consideration with injuries.

“Last year, they pushed themselves to a different level,” coach Alex Hoedlmoser said, according to The Associated Press. “This year we are not there yet, but we know why we are not there yet. We targeted those areas, and it is going to be better.”

They’ll know Saturday, when the World Cup season resume with a downhill in Altenmarkt, Austria.

Three-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso, whose best finish this season is 12th, said the team’s issues are “really hard to explain.”

“There has been some internal stuff that we know that happened, and that we don’t really want to present to everybody,” Hoedlmoser told the AP.

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Teddy Riner, dominant judoka, to skip 2018, 2019 Worlds

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French judoka Teddy Riner, arguably the world’s most dominant athlete, will reportedly skip the next two world championships before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

French coach Franck Chambily said Riner will compete a light international schedule the next two years ahead of what would be his fourth Olympics, according to Agence France-Presse.

Riner, a 29-year-old, 6-foot-8-inch native of Guadeloupe, is undefeated since 2010 with a reported 144-match winning streak. That includes Olympic titles in 2012 and 2016 and world titles in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017.

Before the streak, Riner also earned world titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010, plus an Olympic bronze at age 19 in 2008.

He could compete through the 2024 Paris Games.

“When I am invincible, I will stop,” Riner said in 2013, according to The Associated Press.

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Maggie Nichols wins NCAA all-around title with perfect 10

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Even after a perfect 10 in the last rotation, Maggie Nichols didn’t know that she had won the NCAA all-around title. Her coach at Oklahoma, K.J. Kindler, had to tell her.

The reaction?

“Excitement,” Nichols said Friday night on ESPNU. “I just wanted to go out there and feel out the equipment, staying calm and doing my routines that I have been doing in training.”

Nichols, a 2015 World team champion who retired from elite gymnastics after missing the 2016 Olympic team (set back by a torn meniscus that year), became the first Sooner to win the NCAA all-around in 30 years.

The sophomore tallied 39.8125 points and topped Olympic alternate MyKayla Skinner of Utah by .0875 for the title in St. Louis. It came one year after Nichols was 29th in the all-around with a balance beam fall.

Oklahoma and Utah will be joined in Saturday night’s Super Six team finals by UCLA, LSU, Florida and Nebraska. The Sooners eye their third straight national title.

Nichols capped her night with one of two perfect scores between the two semifinal sessions, matching 2012 Olympic alternate Elizabeth Price‘s 10 on uneven bars. It gave Nichols a second career gym slam, a perfect score on every apparatus for the season.

On Jan. 9, Nichols came forward as “Athlete A,” who first reported to USA Gymnastics that she was sexually abused by Larry Nassar in summer 2015.

“She has had a really unique year probably like no one else, and her strength showed through,” Kindler said Friday, according to the University of Oklahoma. “It was tough, and to come out on this side this year is really special.”

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