Ted Ligety

Ted Ligety’s super combined win key for Sochi medal hopes

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Ted Ligety notched a World Cup victory Friday that will boost his multiple-medal chances at the Olympics.

The American captured a super combined race in Wengen, Switzerland. He had the second fastest morning slalom run and the 13th fastest afternoon downhill to win in a total time of 2 minutes, 44.74 seconds.

France’s Alexis Pinturault was second, .22 behind, followed by Croatia’s Natko Zrncic-Dim.

Overall World Cup leader Aksel Lund Svindal was fifth with the fastest downhill time. Bode Miller was ninth, his fourth top 10 of the season.

Ligety won his 20th career World Cup race, but the previous 19 were giant slaloms. He had not made a podium in a World Cup race outside giant slalom in more than four years.

That stat was somewhat forgotten when Ligety won three gold medals at the 2013 World Championships, including in the super combined. He was instantly marked as a contender for three gold medals.

But Ligety posted one top-10 in the first seven non-giant slalom World Cup races this season before Friday. He had finished 27th, DNF and DNF in the first three World Cup races in 2014.

“January’s been a tough month for me so far,” Ligety said. “It’s nice to kind of turn the corner, I guess.”

This was the first super combined of the season, and Ligety is the 2006 Olympic champion in the combined, a race no longer contested at the Olympics that included not one but two slalom runs and a downhill.

The men’s Alpine skiing World Cup continues with a downhill in Wengen on Saturday.

Snow caused officials to switch the format Friday, going with slalom in the morning and downhill in the afternoon. Ligety was the first skier off in the slalom.

“To run first was definitely an advantage,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “The snow was pretty bad up there.”

Victory helicopter ride to the press conference. #perks #wengen #supercombi

A video posted by Ted Ligety (@ted_ligety) on

Wengen Super Combined
1. Ted Ligety (USA) 2:44.74
2. Alexis Pinturault (FRA) 2:44.96
3. Natko Zrncic-Dim (CRO) 2:45.82
4. Sandro Viletta (SUI) 2:46.12
5. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) 2:46.22
6. Thomas Mermillod Blondin (FRA) 2:46.30
7. Christof Innerhofer (ITA) 2:46.64
8. Matthias Mayer (AUT) 2:46.80
9. Bode Miller (USA) 2:46.89
10. Peter Fill (ITA) 2:47.04
20. Jared Goldberg (USA) 2:48.29
28. Andrew Weibrecht (USA) 2:50.15

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Mikaela Shiffrin likely to return next week

Mikaela Shiffrin
AP
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Mikaela Shiffrin will probably race the next World Cup slalom in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, next Monday, according to the Denver Post.

Shiffrin, 20 and the reigning Olympic, World and World Cup slalom champion, has been out since suffering a right MCL tear and a bone fracture in a Dec. 12 warm-up crash.

Her timetable for a return this season has shifted in the last eight weeks.

The rescheduling of a canceled Jan. 31 slalom for next Monday changed her previous plans to return the final weekend of February, according to the report.

“Our goal is to have her be really close to 100 percent, if not 100 percent [before competing],” said Shiffrin’s mother, Eileen, in an earlier Denver Post report. “We’ve heard all these horror stories about athletes who went back too soon and then sustained injuries that did end their careers.”

The World Cup season concludes March 20. There are four slaloms left on the calendar, and Shiffrin trails slalom standings leader Frida Hansdotter by 305 points.

A winner receives 100 points per victory, so Shiffrin could take her fourth straight World Cup season title, but it would all but require her to win all four remaining slaloms and for Hansdotter (and others) to struggle.

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Tony Parker plans to play in Olympic qualifying, Rio Games

Tony Parker
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Tony Parker said he plans to play in both Olympic qualifying in July and the Rio Games in August, according to L’Equipe.

Parker, 33, previously said he could miss the tournaments this summer, at least in part due to his wife’s pregnancy, according to French media.

Parker said his wife is due in late July, which would fall in between France’s Olympic qualifying tournament (July 4-10 in the Philippines) and the Rio Games (Aug. 6-21).

Parker led France at the 2012 Olympics with 15.7 points per game. The French lost two games in London, to the gold medalist U.S. in group play and silver medalist Spain in the quarterfinals.

Parker led all players with 19 points per game at 2013 EuroBasket, won by France.

In September, Parker and France fell in the EuroBasket semifinals to Spain in a winner-goes-to-Rio game.

The defeat forced France to a last-chance, winner-take-all, six-team Olympic qualifying tournament in the Philippines in July.

In the Philippines, France will face a field that includes Canada, which had nine NBA players on its roster (including Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins) at August’s FIBA Americas yet was stunned in a winner-goes-to-Rio game by Venezuela, which had zero NBA players.

France is likely to be without Chicago Bulls All-Star Joakim Noah this summer as he underwent season-ending left shoulder surgery in January and hasn’t played a major tournament for the national team since 2011 EuroBasket.

Other French NBA players include Charlotte Hornets swingman Nicolas Batum, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, San Antonio Spurs forward Boris Diaw and Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier.

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