Felix Neureuther

German wins World Cup slalom 3 weeks after car crash (video)

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German Felix Neureuther put a forgettable Olympics behind him, winning the first post-Olympic slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, on Sunday.

Neureuther clocked a two-run time of 1 minute, 45.50 seconds for his fourth win this season, taking the lead in the World Cup slalom standings by five points with just the World Cup Finals left next Sunday.

Another German, Fritz Dopfer, was second, .59 behind. It marked the first time in World Cup history that German men went one-two in a race. Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen took third.

Austrian Olympic champion Mario Matt led after the first run but straddled a gate near the finish in his second run and fell across the line. U.S. Olympic giant slalom champion Ted Ligety was 16th.

Neureuther, 29, got into a car accident on his way to a Munich airport to fly to the Sochi Olympics on Feb. 14. He then performed poorly at the Games, taking eighth in the giant slalom and failing to finish his second slalom run. He had whiplash, rib and back injuries.

“The last weeks were really so hard for me with my car accident and then the Olympics and everything,” Neureuther said Sunday. “Winning after such a tough time for me out here is really something. It’s really amazing.”

The race for the overall World Cup title got a little more interesting Sunday, too.

Austrian Marcel Hirscher was fifth, grabbing 45 points to retake the lead over Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal by four points.

Hirscher is trying to become the third man to win three straight World Cup overall titles and the first since American Phil Mahre from 1981-83.

The title will be decided at the four-race World Cup Finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, beginning Wednesday. It could be very close given Svindal stars in the speed events downhill and super-G, while Hirscher is a giant slalom and slalom specialist.

Kranjska Gora Slalom
1. Felix Neureuther (GER) 1:45.50
2. Fritz Dopfer (GER) 1:46.09
3. Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) 1:46.29
4. Patrick Thaler (ITA) 1:46.36
5. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) 1:46.45
6. Jean-Baptiste Grange (FRA) 1:46.64
7. Mattias Hargin (SWE) 1:46.76
8. Alexis Pinturault (FRA) 1:46.78
9. Markus Larsson (SWE) 1:46.84
10. Axel Baeck (SWE) 1:47.13
10. Stefano Gross (ITA) 1:47.13
10. Manfred Moelgg (ITA) 1:47.13
16. Ted Ligety (USA) 1:47.54
23. Will Brandenburg (USA) 1:47.99
26. Nolan Kasper (USA) 1:48.11

Video: Shiffrin takes slalom title, inspired by girl with leukemia

Yevgenia Medvedeva wins season opener in rout

AP
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Olympic figure skating favorite Yevgenia Medvedeva, imperfect by her standards, still won her first international competition of the season by a whopping 36.74 points on Saturday.

The Russian tallied 146.72 points in her free skate at Nepela Trophy in Slovakia — lower than her median score over her two-year winning streak — and 226.72 points overall. 

Video is here. Full scores are here.

Medvedeva had a wrong edge call on her triple Lutz, stepping out of the landing. 

Judges gave her a negative grade of execution for it, snapping a streak of more than 60 straight jumps with positive grades dating to December.

No matter, the 17-year-old still had the highest free skate by 23.23 points.

It was 13.72 points shy of her world record set at the last competition of the 2016-17 season.

She distanced Japanese Rika Hongo and countrywoman Yelena Radionova, the only woman to beat Medvedeva in senior international competition in November 2015.

Medvedeva entered the free skate with a 13.51-point lead in the low-level event. That was via recording the second-highest short program tally under a 13-year-old judging system on Thursday.

Her flawed free skate still earned more points than any of her rivals racked up last season. 

All of her jumps except a double Axel were in the second half of her program to earn bonus points.

However, another Russian posted a higher free skate score last week.

That’s 15-year-old training partner Alina Zagitova, who was .45 better at a low-level event in Italy. 

It’s not entirely fair to compare scores from different judging panels at these early season competitions, though.

The first of six Grand Prix series events is Rostelecom Cup in Moscow in four weeks, featuring Medvedeva and Radionova.

Medvedeva and Zagitova could go head-to-head at the Grand Prix Final in December and should definitely both be at the Russian Championships later that month.

The figure skating season continues next week with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. 

North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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VIDEO: Nathan Chen makes more history at season opener

Yuzuru Hanyu opens Olympic season with record score

Yuzuru Hanyu
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A sore knee didn’t hold Yuzuru Hanyu back. A record score to open his Olympic season.

The Olympic and world champion from Japan hit a pair of quadruple jumps in his short program at the Autumn Classic, a lower-level event in Montreal.

He was rewarded with 112.72 points, the highest short program score recorded under the 13-year-old judging system. Video is here.

It looked like a home competition for Hanyu.

Upon finishing, he bowed toward one set of bleachers (maybe a dozen rows) at the Sportsplexe Pierrefonds. More than two dozen Japanese flags made it hard to see most of the faces.

He bettered Javier Fernández, a two-time world champion and training partner, by 11.52 points. Fernández also landed two quadruple jumps to tally 101.2.

Full scores will be here upon the conclusion of the short program. The free skate is Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. A live stream is here.

Hanyu now owns the three highest short program scores under the 13-year-old system. The other two were set in the 2015-16 season.

Showdowns like Hanyu-Fernández are usually reserved for, at the earliest, the Grand Prix series in late October and November.

Hanyu and Fernández are very familiar with each other, having shared a coach in Canadian Brian Orser, the 1988 Olympic silver medalist, since 2012. They train in Toronto.

In that time, Hanyu became the first Japanese man to win an Olympic title (and the second teen from any nation to do it). He followed it up with world titles later in 2014 and this year.

Fernández achieved unfathomable success for a Spanish skater — world titles in 2015 and 2016, overtaking Hanyu in the free skate both times.

In PyeongChang, Hanyu can become the first man to repeat as Olympic champion since Dick Button in 1952. Fernández can become the third Spaniard to earn a Winter Olympic medal of any color in any sport, and the first since 1992.

The figure skating season continues next week with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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