Australia

Australian Olympic Committee restricts travel for athletes in Sochi

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The Australian Olympic Committee has restricted its 60-member Winter Olympics team to travel on official Olympic transport between the Sochi venues and has advised them not to go outside security perimeters.

Today, team chef de mission Ian Chesterman outlined the new restrictions, which come after the AOC chose to follow advice from the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to exercise caution while in Sochi.

An AOC release says that Australian athletes have been limited to locations within the perimeters of the Olympic Park Precinct (Coastal Cluster), and the villages of Krasnaya Polyana, Esto-Sadok, and Rosa Khutor above the transport filter at Esto-Sadok. They will not be permitted to visit downtown Sochi or Adler.

“We know the International Olympic Committee has great confidence in the procedures and safety processes that have been put in place for these Games and we share that confidence,” Chesterman said in the release. “But we wanted to put some minor, but important, restrictions on our athlete movement during this period of time.”

He also added: “I don’t think it will detract from the experience because the highlights of these Games are the regions they can still go to. It’s where all the action will be.”

The travel restriction is the latest in a series of recent rulings by the AOC that include a partial ban on social media for their athletes in Sochi and the outlawing of intoxicated acts such as “swaying, staggering or falling down.”

The AOC had also set out earlier travel restrictions after a pair of suicide bombings killed 30 people in the Russian city of Volvograd in late December. Those involved making sure all of their athletes would travel to Sochi by air and that they would not train or compete elsewhere in Russia outside of Sochi.

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Mikaela Shiffrin wrestles with doubt in seconds before World Cup downhill debut

Mikaela Shiffrin, of the United States, skis during the third training run for the World Cup women's downhill ski race in Lake Louise, Alberta, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)
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After a momentary panic in the start house, Mikaela Shiffrin raced to a tie for 18th in the first downhill of her World Cup career in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Shiffrin, the youngest Olympic slalom champion who has also won a World Cup giant slalom, has been slowly adding the speed events of super-G and downhill to her repertoire the last two seasons.

“It wasn’t bad,” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com. “I certainly didn’t risk anything crazy.”

Her result Friday, 1.99 seconds behind Slovenian winner Ilka Stuhec, came after Shiffrin was 18th, 24th and 30th fastest in downhill training runs the previous three days. Shiffrin also had to wait several minutes in the start house as the racer before her crashed (video here).

“That was just a bummer,” Shiffrin said, according to the Denver Post. “I was like, ‘Just don’t let it affect you,’ but being up there for 10 minutes, like, ‘What happened? What’s taking them so long? What’s going on? Is she hurt?’

“Then I started doubting myself, like my technique going off the jumps, which is actually pretty good. I was going back and forth between, ‘Should I even be doing this? Maybe I just should pull out because I don’t want to kill myself.’ Then I’m like, ‘You’re absolutely fine, you haven’t felt sketched out a single time on this track in the past three days, so stick with that. You don’t have to go crazy.'”

“To be fast in speed there certainly needs to be a certain level of risk, and I know that, but now, if [giant slalom] and slalom are my main priority this season, I don’t need to be going crazy in a downhill with flat light and after I got iced [waiting so long],” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com.

Stuhec won Friday’s race by .22 of a second over Italian Sofia Goggia. Swede Kajsa Kling was third.

A race replay can be seen here. Full results are here.

Lindsey Vonn, owner of a record 18 wins at Lake Louise, is missing the annual World Cup stop in Alberta due to a broken arm from a November crash. Vonn had raced at Lake Louise each of the previous 15 seasons.

Last season, Shiffrin made her World Cup debut in the super-G at Lake Louise and finished 15th.

The women have another downhill Saturday and a super-G on Sunday in Lake Louise, both streaming live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app (schedule here).

MORE: Vonn eyes January return from her most painful injury

High-speed crash at World Cup downhill in Lake Louise (video)

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Swiss Joana Haehlen crashed into netting at high speed during a World Cup downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Haehlen, 24, lost her right ski after landing from a jump and sped uncontrollably off course. She braced for impact, slammed into red netting and was turned around before landing with neither of her skis still attached.

She lay on the snow while being attended to and eventually skied down the mountain on her own.

It caused a 10-minute delay before the next skier, American Mikaela Shiffrin, could take her run.

VIDEO: Vonn details the most painful injury of her career