Bode Miller

Bode Miller makes podium at World Cup Finals; Svindal concedes overall title

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Bode Miller finished third in the World Cup Finals super-G, while overall leader Aksel Lund Svindal was a disappointing 16th and conceded he will fall from the top of the standings over the final two races.

The six-time Olympic medalist Miller appeared to agonizingly miss his first World Cup win since 2011 by .01 of a second until the 26th and final skier, France’s Alexis Pinturault, nabbed victory in 1 minute, 13.71 seconds in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, on Thursday.

“It’s been a tough year,” said Miller, the Sochi Olympic super-G bronze medalist. “This kind of capped it off. I was happy with my attack today. I definitely skied like I wanted to win the race, which has been a challenge all year. Every time I ski hard, I crash or make such big mistakes. Unfortunately today was no different. … I just had 2.5 seconds worth of mistakes, probably, on that run.”

Pinturault, known for his giant slalom and slalom skills, won his first career World Cup super-G. Countryman Thomas Mermillod Blondin was second, .56 of a second behind, followed by Miller at .57.

Miller earned his fourth podium finish of the season after missing all of 2012-13 following knee surgery. He ranks seventh in the overall standings and is the only man in the top 11 without a race win this year.

“It’s been unbelievable frustrating to have the skiing be so fast that I feel like I could win almost every race, then come away with no wins at all,” Miller said. “Even though I’m old, I’m not like broken down, really. Mentally, I think I’m as tough as any of these kids.”

The Norwegian Svindal entered the race having already clinched the season title in the super-G, but he continued his pedestrian recent form by finishing 16th.

Svindal hasn’t made a race podium since Jan. 26 — including the Olympics — and matched his worst super-G result in three years.

By contrast, Svindal’s rival for the overall title, Austrian Marcel Hirscher, was 12th in just his sixth super-G start in the last four years. Hirscher cut Svindal’s overall lead down to 19 points with two races left.

Those two races are a giant slalom Saturday and a slalom Sunday. Hirscher is a better giant slalom skier than Svindal and the reigning world champion and World Cup champion in slalom. Svindal said he won’t race the slalom and conceded the overall title to Hirscher after the super-G.

“It’s not the way I wanted to end it,” Svindal said. “It puts me out of the chase for the overall title, what can you do.

“I wasn’t good enough [Thursday].”

Olympic giant slalom champion Ted Ligety took fifth and fell from third to fourth in the overall standings, behind Pinturault by 50 points.

“I’m happy with being fifth place, that’s for sure,” Ligety said. “Definitely one of my better super-G results. I definitely feel like there’s a lot more speed on the hill that I left up there, but to get a top five is still a good day.”

Ligety now moves onto the giant slalom Saturday, where he needs Hirscher to finish off the podium to have any chance of repeating as the season champion in that discipline.

“I feel like I have a good chance of getting in there and hopefully winning,” Ligety said. “I don’t know how good of a chance I have of Marcel not getting on the podium. It’s going to be tough.”

Lenzerheide super-G
1. Alexis Pinturault (FRA) 1:13.71
2. Thomas Mermillod Blondin (FRA) 1:14.27
3. Bode Miller (USA) 1:14.28
4. Matthias Mayer (AUT) 1:14.66
5. Ted Ligety (USA) 1:14.80
6. Christof Innerhofer (ITA) 1:14.85
7. Carlo Janka (SUI) 1:14.86
8. Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) 1:14.88
9. Otmar Striedinger (AUT) 1:14.95
9. Travis Ganong (USA) 1:14.95

Final super-G standings
1. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) — 346
2. Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) — 259
3. Patrick Kueng (SUI) — 255
5. Bode Miller (USA) — 220

Video: Hoefl-Riesch crashes in downhill

Alison, Bruno rout Phil Dalhausser, Nick Lucena in FIVB World Tour Finals title match

Alison, Bruno
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Brazil looks golden in beach volleyball, 10 months ahead of the Rio Olympics.

Brazilian pairs swept the FIVB World Tour Finals in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Sunday, capped by World champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt crushing 2008 Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena 21-13, 21-15 in a meeting of arguably the world’s two best teams.

Earlier, Larissa and Talita beat Germans Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst 21-17, 21-18 in the women’s final. Larissa and Talita have won 11 of the 16 international tournaments they’ve played since teaming up in July 2014.

Perhaps more dominant are Alison, a 2012 Olympic silver medalist with the legendary Emanuel, and Schmidt, nephew of Olympic basketball all-time scoring leader Oscar Schmidt. They swept the three biggest tournament titles of 2015 — the World Tour Finals plus the World Championships in the Netherlands in July and the World Series of Beach Volleyball in Long Beach, Calif., in August, during a stretch when they won all five FIVB World Tour events in those two months.

Brazil last earned an Olympic beach volleyball title in 2004, with Americans taking three of the four gold medals since. Volleyball, indoor and beach, is arguably the No. 2 sport in Brazil behind soccer, and the 2016 Olympic tournaments on Copacabana Beach will be highly anticipated.

Alison, an imposing 6-foot-8 figure nicknamed “Mammoth” with a matching tattoo, and Bruno also beat Dalhausser and Lucena in the World Series of Beach Volleyball final Aug. 23.

That tournament marked the American duo’s international return after Dalhausser and partner and two-time Olympian Sean Rosenthal split. The Floridians Dalhausser, 35, and Lucena, 36, had previously played together through the 2005 season.

On Wednesday, Dalhausser and Lucena beat Alison and Bruno in three sets in pool play. The two pairs had played 209 points together over two matches going into Sunday’s final, with the Americans holding a 105-104 points won advantage.

Three-time Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings missed the World Tour Finals after undergoing season-ending right shoulder surgery, while partner and Olympic silver medalist April Ross teamed with sub partner Lauren Fendrick and lost in the quarterfinals Friday.

The FIVB World Tour season continues with a tournament in Puerto Vallerta, Mexico, this week.

MORE BEACH VOLLEYBALL: PHOTOS: Alison/Bruno, Dalhausser/Lucena play match on helipad

WATCH LIVE: Possible Olympic final preview in FIVB World Tour Finals — 2:30 p.m. ET

Alison, Bruno
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The World champions will play beach volleyball’s hottest team Sunday in an intriguing FIVB Word Tour Finals championship match and possible Olympic final preview, live on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra.

Brazilians Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt established themselves as beach volleyball’s best team by winning every international tournament they entered this July and August, including the World Championship.

But the U.S. pair of Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena has been the talk of the sport since partnering in July for the first time since separating in 2005. The duo has only entered five FIVB World Tour events this year, but they have made four finals.

“We don’t consider them to be a new team,” Bruno said. “They already play together so well.”

WATCH LIVE: FIVB World Tour Finals — 2:30 p.m. ET

There are many similarities between the pairs.

Alison and Dalhausser are both intimidating blockers. Dalhausser has been named the FIVB World Tour’s best blocker six times, while Alison was recognized in 2011.

In fact, Lucena called Alison “a thicker version of Phil.” Alison, who is known as “Mammoth,” has 35 pounds on Dalhausser, the “Thin Beast.”

Bruno and Lucena are speedy defensive specialists. Dalhausser called Bruno, nephew of Olympic basketball’s all-time leading scorer Oscar Schmidt, the world’s best defender.

“Bruno might be better than me,” Lucena said, laughing, “but I am taller.”

Both Bruno and Lucena are listed at 6-foot-1.

Dalhausser also compared to Lucena to Todd Rogers, his 2008 Olympic gold medal partner. Dalhausser described Lucena as “more explosive” than Rogers, who was named the FIVB World Tour’s best defensive player three times.

“Todd was super competitive, and Nick is the same way,” Dalhausser said.

Alison and Bruno and Dalhausser and Lucena split their first two meetings (not counting a recent exhibition on a helipad). They’ve played 209 points. Alison and Bruno have won 104. Dalhausser and Lucena have won 105.

Alison and Bruno won the first clash, 21–16, 20–22, 15–13 in the World Series of Beach Volleyball final in Long Beach, Calif., on Aug. 23.

Then Dalhausser and Lucena won Wednesday, 18-21, 21-16, 15-11 in a pool-play match that Lucena called “the most competitive match we’ve played.”

Dalhausser and Lucena, who are both from Florida, are counting on the heat to be a third teammate in Fort Lauderdale.

“We have to wear out the big guy,” Dalhausser said, referring to Alison. “We hope it’s 150 degrees, and we will serve him every time.”

The winning team will receive $100,000. It is the biggest international first-place monetary prize ever.

“They are the best team in the world,” Lucena said. “We want to change that and show what we can do.”

On the women’s side, Brazilians Larissa Franca and Talita Antunes and Germans Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst advanced to Sunday’s final, which will be live on Universal Sports Network at 1:00 p.m. ET. Larissa and Talita have won 10 of the 15 international events they’ve played since debuting in July 2014.

Three-time Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings missed the World Tour Finals due to season-ending right shoulder surgery. Her partner, Olympic silver medalist April Ross, teamed with Lauren Fendrick this past week, and they lost in the quarterfinals.

MORE BEACH VOLLEYBALL: ‘Mammoth,’ ‘Magician,’ bring Brazil back atop beach volleyball