John Orozco

American Cup gymnastics preview; TV schedule

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The summer Olympic sports season begins in earnest in March, starting Saturday with the biggest annual international gymnastics competition held in the U.S.

The American Cup in Greensboro, N.C., includes 2012 Olympians John Orozco and Sam Mikulak and Elizabeth Price and Brenna Dowell, who are in the (very) early running for 2016 Olympic spots.

The American Cup runs from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. ET on Saturday. The first 90 minutes will be streamed here. NBC will carry live coverage from 1-3 p.m.

How important is the American Cup? Take a look at past results.

In 2013, Katelyn Ohashi and Simone Biles went one-two in their senior international debuts. Ohashi, a product of the same gym as Olympic champions Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin, would miss the 2013 U.S. Championships and World Championships after an injury.

Biles stayed healthy, though, and won the U.S. Championship and was the most decorated gymnast at the World Championships — winning two gold medals, one silver and one bronze.

Biles, who is 16 and nursing a shoulder injury, will miss this year’s event and will move to a new gym, leaving the site she’s trained at since age 6.

2012 Olympian Jacob Dalton won the men’s competition in 2013 and went on to take floor exercise silver at the World Championships.

A better perspective for Olympic prospects might be the 2010 American Cup, two years before the London Olympics.

Rebecca Bross and Aly Raisman went one-two on the women’s side. Bross, a two-time world all-around medalist, was set up for a run at the 2012 Olympic Team before injuries struck.

Raisman went to be a leader of the gold-medal-winning 2012 Olympic Team and added two individual medals in London.

The men’s competition in 2010 went to Russian Maksim Devyatovskiy, who did not make the 2012 Olympic Team.

The 2014 U.S. Championships are Aug. 21-24 in Pittsburgh. The 2014 World Championships are in October in Nanning, China.

Here are the full American Cup fields:

Men
Sam Mikulak (USA)
John Orozco (USA)
Fabian Gonzalez (ESP)
Fabien Hambuechen (GER)
Andrey Likhovitskiy (BLR)
Shogo Nonomura (JPN)
Sam Oldham (GBR)
Daniel Purvis (GBR)
Sergio Sasaki Junior (BRA)

Women
Brenna Dowell (USA)
Elizabeth Price (USA)
Carlotta Ferlito (ITA)
Vanessa Ferrari (ITA)
Victoria Moors (CAN)
Roxana Popa Nedelcu (ESP)
Sophie Scheder (GER)
Giulia Steingruber (SUI)

Winter Olympic champions make Wheaties boxes

Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin criticize crash-filled World Cup race

Lindsey Vonn of the United States, who refused the start, talks to reporters in the finish area during the women's alpine combined Super-G race of the Alpine Skiing World Cup, in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. (Alessandro della Valle/Keystone via AP)
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CRANS MONTANA, Switzerland (AP) — Lindsey Vonn wasn’t about to risk another injury, and neither was Mikaela Shiffrin.

Vonn and Shiffrin, along with some of their American teammates on the World Cup tour, pulled out of the Alpine combined race on Friday because of dangerous conditions on the course. The first three racers all crashed, and one was taken away on a stretcher with a knee injury.

“For me I’ve had so many injuries, I don’t need to risk anything today,” Vonn said. “A lot of the other athletes and coaches were asking me to put pressure on everyone to try to cancel the race because it’s too dangerous and I did my best but I just pray that no one else gets hurt today. I think it was a smart decision for our team to pull out of the race.”

Shiffrin also called the conditions dangerous and said the International Ski Federation (FIS) didn’t listen to athletes who raised concerns, according to Swiss newspaper Blick.

After Ilka Stuhec, Tessa Worley and Denise Feierabend all fell at nearly the same point in the opening super-G portion of the combined race, the event was postponed and the start was lowered.

Stuhec and Worley were able to restart, but Feierabend could not because of her injury. Worley then crashed again on her second attempt.

Federica Brignone, who was second after the super-G portion, won the race, overtaking first-run leader Stuhec in the slalom. Michaela Kirchgasser was third. Full results are here.

Vonn said the race shouldn’t have gone ahead at all after several of the forerunners — including American teammate Julia Mancuso — crashed while testing the course as the snow began to melt in changeable weather conditions.

“First and foremost, if all of the forerunners are crashing and not finishing that’s a sign that something’s wrong,” Vonn said. “The forerunners are there for a reason. Julia was one of the forerunners, she told them and they didn’t listen.

“No. 2: Listen to the representatives. Sofia (Goggia) told them that it was not acceptable to race, but they didn’t listen and now Denise probably blew her knee out because no one listened.”

The 32-year-old Vonn missed nearly two seasons of competition after injuring her right knee in Austria in 2013. She hurt the same knee in her comeback.

Vonn returned to competition last month after nearly a year out with knee and arm injuries.

“The problem is a lot of times people mistake our opinions as just whining,” Vonn said. “We’re women and we’re whining and we just need to suck it up and race, and that’s not the case. Probably more than half or the field has been injured before … it’s unfortunate that the FIS doesn’t listen to us.”

The U.S. ski federation announced that its team of Vonn, Shiffrin, Laurenne Ross, Jacqueline Wiles, Breezy Johnson and Stacey Cook would not compete. But Wiles, Cook and Johnson did start, with only Johnson finishing the opening leg. She was in 36th place after the super-G.

Shiffrin, the overall World Cup leader, holds more than a 300-point lead in the standings over Stuhec and Goggia, the next active challengers. Defending overall champion Lara Gut, in second place, is out for the rest of the season after injuring her knee while training between runs of the combined event at the world championships in St. Moritz two weeks ago.

Goggia was also among the 16 skiers who did not finish the super-G.

Friday’s race was rescheduled from Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria. There is another combined race scheduled for Sunday, with a super-G on Saturday, both streamed on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app starting at 4:30 a.m. ET.

“It has to be everyone looking out for the most important thing, the athletes’ safety,” Vonn said. “I realize if the race is cancelled people lose money and the fans, I understand all of the politics, but there is no ski racing and there is no politics if we don’t have safe athletes.”

MORE: Stenmark to Vonn: ‘Don’t beat my record too early’

Anna Veith ends season early as Austrian injuries pile up

ST MORITZ, SWITZERLAND - FEBRUARY 07:  Anna Veith of Austria reacts at the finish during the Women's Super G during the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships on February 7, 2017 in St Moritz, Switzerland.  (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
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Austrian Anna Veith, the best female Alpine skier in 2014 and 2015, will undergo left knee surgery Tuesday, ending an abbreviated comeback season following right knee surgery 16 months ago.

“This surgery is the only chance to continue living my dream. To ski the way I want to do it, competing and being part of the Olympics again,” was posted on Veith’s social media Friday, adding that she was skiing with pain due to patellar tendon problems.

The 27-year-old won super-G gold and giant slalom silver at the Sochi Olympics, then the World Cup overall title a month later and the following season.

Veith then had a drawn-out comeback from tearing the ACL and patellar tendon in her right knee in an Oct. 21, 2015 crash. She missed all of the 2015-16 campaign and was slow to return to form this season.

Her best finish was 19th in her first six races, but then Veith placed third in the last super-G before the world championships earlier this month. At worlds, she failed to finish the super-G and was 22nd in the giant slalom, two years after winning both events.

Veith is the third Austrian women’s star to bow out due to injury this year, following 2016 World Cup giant slalom champion Eva-Maria Brem and Cornelia Huetter, the top Austrian in last season’s World Cup overall standings in seventh place.

MORE: Stenmark to Vonn: ‘Don’t beat my record too early’