Switzerland’s Dario Cologna takes gold in men’s skiathlon

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No doubt about it – Dario Cologna is back.

The Swiss cross-country skier and 2010 Olympic champion in the 15km freestyle tore a ligament in his right ankle back in November, and observers had wondered if he would be competitive at the Sochi Olympics.

But in this morning’s men’s skiathlon, Cologna proved more than competitive. He was the best, charging late past Sweden’s Marcus Hellner and holding him off for gold by four-tenths of a second.

Bronze medalist Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway was 1.4 seconds back, narrowly beating Russia’s Maksim Vylegzhanin at the stripe for the last spot on the podium.

According to NBC Olympics’ Olivia Wittels, the Russians lodged a protest regarding Vylegzhanin’s finish that ultimately went nowhere.

Noah Hoffman of the U.S. rose into the Top 10 during the early stages of the race, but fell back to 35th at the finish after a series of mid-race problems that included a fall and a run-in with another competitor. It was still the top finish among the Americans.

Also fading, albeit more dramatically, was two-time Olympic gold medalist Petter Northug of Norway, who was running in the Top 5 with two kilometers to go but came home 17th.

MORE: Jamie Anderson wins slopestyle gold; U.S. sweeps golds

MEN’S SKIATHLON (15km Classic/15km Free)
1. Dario Cologna (SUI), 1:08:15.4
2. Marcus Hellner (SWE), +0.4 seconds
3. Martin Johnsrud Sundby (NOR), +1.4 seconds

35. Noah Hoffman (USA), +3:12.7
42. Erik Bjornsen (USA), +4:26.9
47. Brian Gregg (USA), +5:10.9
54. Kris Freeman (USA), +6:19.2

Katie Ledecky easily wins 400m free to open swimming worlds

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Katie Ledecky took her first step toward a possible record-tying six gold medals at one world championships, easily winning the 400m freestyle in Budapest on Sunday.

Ledecky clocked 3:58.34, the second-fastest time ever, to win by 3.2 seconds over countrywoman Leah Smith. China’s Li Bingjie earned the bronze. Ledecky holds the nine fastest times ever.

Ledecky, the quadruple Rio Olympic champion, won her third straight world title in the 400m free and 10th world title overall. She later swims the 4x100m free relay on Sunday, then four more events later this week.

Missy Franklin holds the female record of six golds from one worlds in 2013. Michael Phelps won seven golds at the 2007 Worlds.

In other races Sunday, China’s Sun Yang won his third straight world 400m freestyle title, whooping Australian rival and Rio gold medalist Mack Horton by 2.47 seconds.

Sun, 25, bagged his eighth individual world title, trailing only Ryan Lochte (10) and Michael Phelps (15) on the all-time list.

In semifinals, Olympic champion and world-record holder Sarah Sjostrom was the top qualifier into Monday’s 100m butterfly final. While Sjostrom is the heavy favorite, U.S. Olympian Kelsi Worrell qualified third into the final as she seeks a first individual major international meet medal.

Caeleb Dressel broke the American record in the 50m butterfly semifinals, a non-Olympic event. Dressel took .15 off the old record by clocking 22.76 as the fastest qualifier into Monday’s final.

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Sun Yang wins third straight world 400m freestyle title

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Sun Yang cruised to win his third straight 400m freestyle world title in Budapest, clocking 3:41.38, pumping his fist and splashing water in his typical fashion.

The Chinese Sun, 25, beat Rio gold medalist Mack Horton by a whopping 2.47 seconds with the fastest time in the world since 2012.

Horton, who edged Sun by .13 at the Olympics, had choice words for Sun both last year and last week, having called the Chinese superstar a “drug cheat” for serving a three-month doping ban in 2014.

Italian Gabriele Detti took bronze, just as he did in Rio. The top American was Zane Grothe in seventh, the lowest result by the top American in this event since 1998.

Sun earned his eighth overall individual world title, moving ahead of Grant Hackett and Aaron Peirsol as solo third all time among men behind Michael Phelps (15) and Ryan Lochte (10).

Sun can build on that total in the 200m, 800m and 1500m frees later in the meet. He has won all of those events at past Olympics or worlds.

Men’s 400m Freestyle Results
Gold: Sun Yang (CHN) — 3:41.38
Silver: Mack Horton (AUS) — 3:43.85
Bronze: Gabriele Detti (ITA) — 3:43.93
4. Park Tae-Hwan (KOR) — 3:44.38
5. Felix Auboeck (AUT) — 3:45.21
6. James Guy (GBR) — 3:45.58
7. Zane Grothe (USA) — 3:45.86
8. David McKeon (AUS) — 3:46.27

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