Marcel Hirscher

Marcel Hirscher adds slalom globe to World Cup overall title

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Austrian Marcel Hirscher won the World Cup Finals slalom and with it the 2013-14 discipline title in the last race of the season Sunday.

Hirscher came into the finale with a five-point lead on German Felix Neureuther, whose giant slalom finish Saturday denied Hirscher the season title in that discipline. American Ted Ligety won the giant slalom crystal globe instead.

On Sunday, Hirscher led Neureuther by .06 of a second after the first of two runs on a course deemed unfair by the German team director and “ridiculous” by Ligety, according to The Associated Press.

Hirscher would go last in the second run on the Lenzerheide, Switzerland, course. Neureuther went right before him and laid down the fastest two-run time. Hirscher needed to beat Neureuther to win his second straight slalom crystal globe.

“Maybe 10 seconds before I was starting out of the starting gate, I asked my physio about Felix, was he in front,” Hirscher said. “Yeah, he is.”

Hirscher lost his lead and was dead even with Neureuther after the final split but picked up .76 of a second over the final 20 seconds. He won comfortably.

The Austrian crossed the finish line and dipped into a sitting position over his skis, wagging both index fingers in the air. Despite that, he said he wasn’t totally confident during his run.

“I never expect that I am that fast,” Hirscher said. “I made a lot of mistakes. … It was a big surprise for me.”

Hirscher’s victory meant that all five crystal globes went to the same men as last year. Hirscher also won the overall title for the third straight year, becoming only the fourth man to do so.

Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal won the downhill and super-G titles again. Ligety won his fifth giant slalom title in seven years.

Hirscher, who won Olympic slalom silver, enters next season with a great chance to become the first man to win four straight World Cup overall titles.

He’s only 25, perhaps not having reached his peak yet. His closest competition in the overall, Svindal, is 31 and had a poor finish to this season. Svindal won no medals at the Olympics.

Ligety finished 12th Sunday and fourth in the overall standings after taking third last season. He’s said he wished his slalom was better this year, giving him something to work on before next fall.

Lenzerheide Slalom
1. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) 2:07.74
2. Felix Neureuther (GER) 2:08.50
3. Mario Matt (AUT) 2:08.82
4. Stefano Gross (ITA) 2:09.64
5. Markus Larsson (SWE) 2:09.96
6. Axel Baeck (SWE) 2:10.02
7. Manfred Moelgg (ITA) 2:10.20
8. Patrick Thaler (ITA) 2:10.23
9. Alexis Pinturault (FRA) 2:10.51
10. Ivica Kostelic (CRO) 2:10.64
12. Ted Ligety (USA) 2:10.89
18. David Chodounsky (USA) 2:13.14
DNF. Bode Miller (USA)

Final World Cup Slalom Standings
1. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) — 565
2. Felix Neureuther (GER) — 550
3. Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) — 454

Final World Cup Overall Standings
1. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) — 1,222
2. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) — 1,091
3. Alexis Pinturault (FRA) — 1,028
4. Ted Ligety (USA) — 991
5. Felix Neureuther (GER) — 813
6. Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) — 657
7. Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) — 639
8. Bode Miller (USA) — 633
9. Matthias Mayer (AUT) — 602
10. Patrick Kueng (SUI) — 562

Video: Ligety wins GS season title in dramatic fashion

Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross win World Series of Beach Volleyball

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Rio bronze medalists Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross bounced back from an Olympic upset to win the biggest annual tournament in the U.S. on Sunday.

Walsh Jennings and Ross captured the Asics World Series of Beach Volleyball title in Long Beach, Calif., for the second time in three years. They beat Spanish pair Liliana Fernández and Elsa Baquerizo 21-16, 21-16 in the final.

“We love those girls so much, they are dear friends of ours,” Walsh Jennings said. “We wanted to beat them down.”

Absent from Long Beach were Olympic gold medalists Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany and silver medalists Ágatha and Bárbara of Brazil.

Walsh Jennings and Ross, who lost to Ágatha and Bárbara in the Olympic semifinals, dropped a total of two sets in seven undefeated matches this past week.

They earned their fifth international title of the year after winning none in 2015, last season shortened by Walsh Jennings’ fifth right shoulder surgery.

In the men’s final, Brazil’s No. 2 pair, Pedro and Evandro, beat top U.S. pair Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena 19-21, 21-17, 15-9.

Olympic champions Alison and Bruno of Brazil did not compete in Long Beach.

The beach volleyball season continues with the FIVB World Tour Finals in Toronto in two weeks.

MORE: Tough for Misty May-Treanor to watch Kerri Walsh Jennings in Rio

Monica Puig’s unlikely Olympic tennis gold reminded her of ‘Miracle’ scene

Monica Puig
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NEW YORK (AP) — Monica Puig gazed out at her fellow Puerto Ricans jamming the parade route, and in their eyes she saw hope.

They hailed her with “a sense of satisfaction,” she recalled Saturday, “and a sense of belief that things are going to get better.”

Throughout her stunning run to the Olympic tennis gold medal, Puig embraced the symbolism of each upset victory. An economic crisis is devastating the island of her birth, and she appreciated that if she could prove the impossible is possible, that message would reverberate far beyond sports.

“If Puerto Rico channels that same energy and belief that things will get better and working for the better of the island, the better of the community, things will improve,” Puig said four days after the U.S. territory honored its Olympic team and, above all, its first gold medalist.

“I really hope I gave them a lot of confidence moving forward,” she added, “that things will actually get better.”

The world’s 34th-ranked women’s tennis player met with a roomful of reporters Saturday, exactly two weeks after she beat Australian Open champ Angelique Kerber in three sets in the final in Rio de Janeiro. Poised and philosophical in ways that bely her age, the 22-year-old realizes some people deem her gold medal “a fluke.”

After all, Puig has never made it past the round of 16 at a major. And at the U.S. Open, which starts Monday, she’s never advanced beyond the second round. Puig is already bracing herself for the reality that her run at Flushing Meadows could fall well short of what took place in Rio.

“I’m 22 years old. There’s still a long way for me to go, a long stretch of career,” she said. “If anything happens, any kind of slip-up, it’s not really going to be a big deal, because I have a process and I have a long-term view of where I want to go.”

Which isn’t to say she expects a slip-up.

“I know that the Olympics wasn’t a fluke for me, because I have worked very hard to get to where I am,” Puig said. “I know the hours and the tears and the sweat and everything that’s been put into my practices. It’s been very difficult for me.

“But that moment, nobody will be able to take away.”

Even she considers that Olympic moment to be like something out of a movie script. When spectators chanted “Si se puede!” (“Yes you can!” in Spanish) during the final against the second-ranked Kerber, Puig flashed back to a scene from the film “Miracle” about the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team.

With fans roaring “U-S-A!” coach Herb Brooks tells his players: “Listen to them. That’s what you’ve done.” As Puig said Saturday, “I needed to listen to the crowd.”

Her gold might not have been quite as unlikely as the Miracle on Ice, but it wasn’t too far off. The night after her victory, Puig slept with the medal on her nightstand, waking up every few hours to make sure it was real. She still feels the need to check up on it during the day.

“I see the videos and I’m like, ‘Did this really just happen?'” Puig said.

When they showed the clip of her medal ceremony when she was honored in Puerto Rico, she started crying again. Through it all, she insisted Saturday, she felt she kept her focus, knowing the U.S. Open was looming.

After Rio, Puig spent some time with her family in Miami, where she lives. Then it was on to the island “where the big party was waiting.” It’s been hard to squeeze in sleep and alone time and practice — all the things she needs to recover from one big event and prepare for another.

Puig faces 60th-ranked Zheng Saisai, who upset Agnieszka Radwanska at the Olympics, in the first round Monday. She originally wasn’t seeded at Flushing Meadows, which meant she could have faced a top player in her opening match, but she moved up to the final seed when Sloane Stephens withdrew because of an injury Friday.

It’s the first time Puig has been seeded at a major, and in what was a breakthrough season even before her golden moment, she’s starting to grow comfortable with those sorts of roles.

“I feel like I finally understand what I’m doing when it comes to tennis,” she said.

MORE: U.S. goes one-two in Olympic mixed doubles