Bode Miller

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

Leave a comment

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

IAAF clears Paula Radcliffe, defends its blood testing program

Leave a comment

(AP) — The IAAF cleared marathon world record-holder Paula Radcliffe of doping allegations on Friday and rejected claims that it failed to act on hundreds of suspicious blood tests, saying the accusations lacked “any scientific or legal basis.”

Track and field’s governing body issued a 38-page response to allegations by British and German media outlets that it had ignored and tolerated rampant blood doping in the sport.

“The IAAF is not complacent about doping in its sport,” the federation said. “It will continue to use every tool at its disposal to fight doping and protect clean athletes.”

The statement was released a few days before IAAF President Sebastian Coe faces a British parliamentary hearing into the doping allegations made by The Sunday Times newspaper and German broadcaster ARD.

Already reeling from revelations of government-backed doping in Russia and criminal corruption charges against former president Lamine Diack, the International Association of Athletics Federations said it had a duty to set the record straight on the blood doping issue.

“The IAAF cannot sit idly by while public confidence in its willingness to protect the integrity of its sport is undermined by allegations of inaction/incompetence that are based on bad scientific and legal argument,” it said.

The IAAF singled out the case of Radcliffe, saying the three-time London Marathon winner was publicly accused of doping “based on the gross misinterpretation of raw and incomplete data.”

Elevated blood value readings in some of Radcliffe’s tests had “clearly plausible” explanations that were “entirely innocent,” the IAAF said.

“Any competent scientist would immediately conclude that they should be disregarded,” the statement added.

The IAAF said it followed up by testing Radcliffe’s urine and blood samples for EPO and blood transfusions, and all the results came back negative.

“Obviously there’s been damage done to my reputation, and to the reputation of the sport, and that’s why I took the stand I did against this,” Radcliffe said Friday after the release of the IAAF statement. “Yes, it was only me being singled out but there are a lot of other innocent, clean athletes who have or may produce an atypical value at some point.

“That’s precisely why it has to be kept so confidential until an expert that’s properly qualified looks at it and assesses it.”

Britain’s national anti-doping agency said it also reviewed Radcliffe’s test results and agreed there was no case against her.

“The data does not provide any evidence that any anti-doping rule violation proceedings should be brought,” the UK Anti-Doping Agency said.

Radcliffe, who retired from competition this year, was publicly implicated during a British Parliamentary hearing in August into the doping allegations leveled by the British and German media.

She acknowledged that her blood-testing data may have shown “fluctuations” but insisted there were no “abnormalities” and experts had concluded she had done nothing wrong.

Radcliffe set the world record when she ran 2 hours, 15 minutes, 25 seconds in winning the 2003 London Marathon. She also won the New York Marathon three times (2004, `07 and `08) and the Chicago Marathon in 2002. Radcliffe competed in four Olympics but never won a medal.

The Sunday Times and ARD examined the results of 12,000 blood tests involving 5,000 athletes from a leaked IAAF database covering 2001 to 2012 and concluded there was evidence of widespread cheating.

The reports said that 146 medals — including 55 golds — in disciplines ranging from the 800 meters to the marathon at the Olympics and world championships were won by athletes who have recorded suspicious tests. The Sunday Times also claimed the London Marathon was won seven times over a 12-year period by athletes who recorded suspicious tests.

The IAAF said Friday that its biological passport program — which monitors athletes’ blood profiles over time for evidence of doping — began in 2009 and that all screenings done before then could not be used as proof of doping.

“No charge could ever be brought based on the pre-2009 tests,” the statement said.

The IAAF said it would respond separately to allegations made in a report by a World Anti-Doping Agency commission this month that IAAF officials swept aside up to eight blood doping cases in 2012, allowing athletes to compete at the London Olympics when they should have been suspended.

MORE: Russia vows to follow all WADA recommendations on doping

Crashes for Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn in Aspen grand slalom

Leave a comment

The American women finished off the podium in today’s grand slalom race in Aspen, Colorado after both Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin suffered crashes.

20-year-old Shiffrin was leading after the first run by 0.11 seconds. If she’d maintained her lead through the second run, she would have become the first American woman since Tamara McKinney in 1981 to win the World Cup race in Aspen.

Shiffrin was also hoping she’d win her first World Cup race on American soil today; all 15 of her World Cup victories have been in Europe.

She was optimistic heading into the second run, telling the Denver Post, “I felt really solid. I was attacking, I was really attacking like crazy. That was a really good thing for me to do in a GS course.”

Unfortunately Shiffrin was in sight of the finish line with just two gates to go when she lost an edge and crashed.

The winner was Lara Gut of Switzerland, followed by Eva-Maria Brem of Austria and Federica Brignone of Italy.

Vonn took herself out of podium contention in the first run when she lost her left ski while making a hard right turn. Vonn, who broke her ankle in training three months ago, was not hurt and called the error “super annoying,” the AP reported. “It’s never happened to me in a race before. To have it happen in Aspen is definitely disappointing.”

Vonn will next race two downhills and a super-G in Lake Louise, where she’s claimed fifteen career victories. Shiffrin will race two slalom races in Aspen on Saturday and Sunday.

Watch Vonn’s first run here:

MORE: Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin meet to discuss rivalry