Andrea Fischbacher

Austrian Fischbacher wins World Cup downhill; Americans struggle

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Andrea Fischbacher exacted a bit of redemption after being left off the Austrian Olympic Team in Sochi, winning the first post-Olympic World Cup race Sunday.

Fischbacher, unable to defend her 2010 Olympic super-G gold, stunned the favorites in a downhill in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. She clocked 1 minute, 34 seconds from late bib No. 29, beating countrywoman Anna Fenninger by .15. Slovenia’s Tina Maze, the co-Olympic downhill champion, was third.

German Maria Hoefl-Riesch padded her overall World Cup lead by finishing ninth. The woman in second place in the standings, Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather, remains out due to injury.

Julia Mancuso was the top American in 18th, followed by Stacey Cook in 21st.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup continues with technical events in Are, Sweden, next week, likely marking the return of Olympic slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin.

The spotlight Sunday was on Fischbacher, though. The 28-year-old claimed her first World Cup podium in more than four years, before she won that 2010 Olympic super-G.

She had not been better than eighth in any race this season, the slight drop in form perhaps a big reason why she didn’t earn a trip to Sochi on the deep Austrian team.

Fenninger’s second place kept Hoefl-Riesch from clinching the season downhill title, which will now be decided at the World Cup Finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, in two weeks.

Hoefl-Riesch, in what may be her final season, is looking great to finish in the top three of overall points for the seventh straight season. If she maintains her overall lead, she will win the overall title for a second time.

Crans-Montana Downhill
1. Andrea Fischbacher (AUT) 1:34.00
2. Anna Fenninger (AUT) 1:34.15
3. Tina Maze (SLO) 1:34.47
4. Elisabeth Goergl (AUT) 1:34.49
5. Edit Miklos (HUN) 1:34.82
6. Lotte Smiseth Sejersted (NOR) 1:34.83
7. Fabienne Suter (SUI) 1:34.94
8. Nicole Schmidhofer (AUT) 1:35.08
9. Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) 1:35.26
10. Dominique Gisin (SUI) 1:35.35
18. Julia Mancuso (USA) 1:36.34
21. Stacey Cook (USA) 1:36.76
30. Laurenne Ross (USA) 1:37.42
31. Jacqueline Wiles (USA) 1:37.96
38. Julia Ford (USA) 1:38.94
40. Leanne Smith (USA) 1:39.74

Career best for American in men’s super-G

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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