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.

Kearney thwarts sisters in Deer Valley moguls

Olympic ski cross champion suffers serious knee injury

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Canadian Marielle Thompson, the reigning Olympic and World Cup ski cross champion, ruptured an ACL and MCL in a training crash in Switzerland.

Alpine Canada did not say when the accident happened or what Thompson’s chances are of returning to defend her Olympic title in PyeongChang.

Thompson flew from Switzerland to Vancouver for an MRI that confirmed the injury.

“I’ll be making a plan with my team moving forward and when the time is right getting back on the ski cross course stronger than ever,” Thompson said in a press release.

Thompson, 25, tore a meniscus in January 2015 and returned to competition 11 months later. She won seven of the 13 World Cup races last season.

Other Olympic medal contenders include Swede Sandra Näslund and Swiss Fanny Smith.

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Nathan Chen leads Yuzuru Hanyu at Grand Prix opener (video)

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U.S. champion Nathan Chen hopes to become comfortable in this spot this season — ahead of reigning Olympic and world champion Yuzuru Hanyu in the standings.

The 18-year-old Chen landed two quadruple jumps in his short program at the opening Grand Prix event in Moscow, taking a 5.69-point lead over Hanyu going into Saturday’s free skate.

Two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva of Russia topped the women’s short program with 80.75 points (one tenth off her world record).

Full Rostelecom Cup results are here.

Chen’s tally — 100.54 points — is the second-highest short of his flourishing international career. It would have been higher if not for two of his three jumping passes receiving negative grades of execution for wonky landings.

The Japanese megastar Hanyu fell on his final jump, a triple toe loop, on Friday. No matter, Winnie the Pooh bears rained down on the ice from the adoring crowd, many of whom traveled from Japan.

Hanyu scored 94.85 points, one month after breaking his world record short program score with 112.72 points in a small event in Canada.

“Today I made some mistakes in my short program, but overall it didn’t feel bad,” Hanyu said, according to the International Skating Union.

Hanyu, though he is the current PyeongChang favorite, has never won his season-opening Grand Prix event in seven tries.

Chen has now outscored Hanyu, who is four years older, in four of their last eight head-to-head skates.

Hanyu was better in the two biggest programs at last season’s world championships. Chen placed sixth at worlds in April, perhaps gassed at the end of his first senior season while competing on duct-taped skates.

In the women’s standings, Medvedeva topped Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner of Italy by 6.13 points.

American Mirai Nagasu landed a triple Axel that was called under rotated and fell on her other two jumping passes. She ended up ninth, two spots behind U.S. bronze medalist Mariah Bell.

In the short dance, two-time world medalists and U.S. champions Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani tallied 77.30 points.

The siblings lead by .97 over Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev going into the free dance.

Russians are one-two in pairs. World bronze medalists Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov lead Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov by 5.49.

All of the free skates are Saturday, live on Olympic Channel. A full schedule is here.

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Rostelecom Cup
Men’s Short
1. Nathan Chen (USA) — 100.54
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 94.85
3. Dmitriy Aliyev (RUS) — 88.77
11. Grant Hochstein (USA) — 67.56

Women’s Short
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 80.75
2. Carolina Kostner (ITA) — 74.64
3. Wakaba Higuchi (JPN) — 69.60
7. Mariah Bell (USA) — 63.85
9. Mirai Nagasu (USA) — 56.15

Short Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 77.30
2. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 76.33
3. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) — 71.32
7. Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (USA) — 59.41

Pairs Short
1. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 76.88
2. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) — 71.39
3. Valentina Marchei/Ondřej Hotárek (ITA) — 68.48
7. Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran (USA) — 54.37