Ashton Eaton

Ashton Eaton near world record pace at World Indoors; wife wins silver

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The first day of the World Indoor Championships was good to husband and wife Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton.

The American Eaton took a 70-point lead in the heptathlon in Sopot, Poland, on Friday, one point shy of his world record pace set at the 2012 World Indoor Championships. The Canadian Theisen-Eaton won silver in the pentathlon.

The first U.S. medal was gold, to shot putter Ryan Whiting who defended his 2012 World Indoor title.

The Olympic decathlon champion Eaton reportedly multi-tasked at ERGO Arena, cheering on Theisen-Eaton in her final pentathlon event, the 800m, while in between high jumps in the fourth of seven events in his heptathlon.

Theisen-Eaton finished 62 points behind winner Nadine Broersen of the Netherlands. American Sharon Day-Monroe finished six points out of bronze.

Eaton had the best 60m and long jump in the heptathlon and was fourth in the shot put and third in the high jump. He’s in line to win his fourth straight major multi-event championship with three events to go Saturday.

Whiting, who also won silver at the 2013 World Outdoor Championships, prevailed with a 22.05-meter throw to beat two-time reigning World Outdoor champion David Storl of Germany.

American Marvin Bracy overcame a slow start in the 60m to advance to Saturday’s semifinals in 6.60 seconds. Bracy, 20 and a former Florida State football recruit, is seen as a medal favorite given he’s the fastest man in the world this year among competitors in Sopot.

“It’s my first World Championships and it’s not something I’m used to,” Bracy said, according to Agence France-Presse. “Normally I just show up a day before a championship and run, but this is different.

“I concentrated on my preparations for the race so much that I actually wasn’t paying attention to when the gun went off, that’s why my start was so bad.

“I don’t feel much pressure, I’m just 20 so I know that even if I don’t do as well as I’m expected to, I’ve got a lot of World Championships left in my career.”

Other medal contenders Great Britain’s Dwain Chambers (6.57) and Jamaican Nesta Carter (6.58) also advanced.

Olympic 100m hurdles champion Sally Pearson of Australia was the fastest qualifier into the 60m hurdles semifinals in 7.79 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year and faster than any other woman in the field has ever run.

Americans Nia Ali and Janay DeLoach Soukup also made the 16-woman semifinals set for Saturday.

In the men’s 800m, World Outdoor Championships silver medalist Nick Symmonds failed to advance out of his heat and then said it was the final indoor race of his career.

“I’m not in that point in my season where I have that speed to get out,” Symmonds, 30, told reporters. “It [indoors] doesn’t suit me very well. As much fun as I’ve had out here, I think, for me, personally, obviously you’ve seen the last three or four seasons when I skip the indoor season, the long buildup works better for me in the summer [outdoors].”

All of the contenders advanced to Sunday’s men’s 3000m final, including Americans Bernard Lagat and Galen Rupp. Lagat, 39, is the two-time defending 3000m champion and the oldest athlete at the meet.

Both Americans also made the women’s 3000m final, Shannon Rowbury and Gabriele Grunewald. Grunewald was controversially disqualified and then reinstated as the U.S. 3000m champion last week. Ethiopian world record holder Genzebe Dibaba is the overwhelming favorite in the 3000m.

American Lopez Lomong, the Sudan-born 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremony flag bearer, failed to advance out of the 1500m heats.

U.S. Olympian Francena McCorory was the fastest qualifier into the women’s 400m final Saturday. Olympic silver medalist Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic failed to make the men’s 400m final, while Olympic bronze medalist Lalonde Gordon of Trindad and Tobago made it in only after another man was disqualified.

World Indoor Championship broadcast schedule

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.

“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’