Lindsey Vonn

Lindsey Vonn wins in second race in return; U.S. sweep (video)


Lindsey Vonn is back.

Vonn won a World Cup downhill race in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Saturday, her second start since January knee surgery knocked her out of the Sochi Olympics.

“I’m finally feeling confident going fast again,” said Vonn, who hoped to make the podium but didn’t expect a victory. “I’m finally back to where I feel confident. I’m pushing the limits. I want more speed. I haven’t had that yet until today.”

Vonn dominated the field, leading the first U.S. sweep in World Cup history (men or women). She clocked 1 minute, 50.48 seconds. Stacey Cook was second, .49 behind. Julia Mancuso was third, .57 back.

Vonn’s margin of victory was greater than the margin separating second place from ninth place.

Vonn notched her 60th career World Cup win, moving within two of the women’s record held by retired Austrian Annemarie Moser-Pröll.

She screamed after seeing her leading time when she crossed the finish line, yelled “Yes!” repeatedly and dropped to the snow in delight.

The 2010 Olympic downhill champion finished eighth in a Lake Louise downhill Friday, her first race since Dec. 21, 2013.

“It’s just finding my rhythm and finding my confidence,” said Vonn, who won for the first time since Jan. 26, 2013. “Every day has gotten better here. Today, I went a little bit more aggressive than I did yesterday, took some more chances.”

She’s skiing at a venue nicknamed “Lake Lindsey.” She won seven straight World Cup races in Lake Louise from 2010 to 2012 and has 15 victories there overall.

“I definitely think that I shocked a few people,” Vonn said. “I don’t think really anyone expected me to win today. I could definitely see that on some of the girls’ faces.”

Vonn, whose best finish in three training runs earlier this week was eighth, will compete again in Lake Louise in a super-G on Sunday.

“I haven’t had much training,” Vonn said. “The three days of training here have been training for me.

“I’m not expecting this kind of result all the time just yet.”

The last nation to sweep a women’s World Cup podium was Austria in 2009.

Cook, a three-time Olympian, made her first World Cup podium since Dec. 1, 2012.

Mancuso, the most decorated U.S. Olympic female skier with four medals, made her first World Cup podium since March 3, 2013.

Vonn’s right knee problems began at the February 2013 World Championships, when she crashed in the super-G and required season-ending surgery to repair a torn ACL, MCL and a fractured tibial plateau.

She injured the knee again in a training crash on Nov. 20, 2013. Vonn’s only three completed races last season were at Lake Louise, where she finished 40th, 11th and fifth last December.

Vonn, a four-time World Cup overall champion, aggravated the knee in her fourth World Cup race last season in Val d’Isere, France, on Dec. 21, 2013.

She underwent another knee surgery in January, ruling her out of the Sochi Olympics.

“I fought so hard to be back where I am, at the top of the podium,” Vonn said, according to Reuters. “It means the world to me, it’s just unbelievable. It’s like a dream day.”

Vonn skied with a right knee brace but said she has not restrictions. The knee doesn’t swell, she doesn’t ice it, and it doesn’t hurt.

Vonn’s goals for the rest of her career are clear. She wants to pass Moser-Proell for the women’s World Cup victories record.

Vonn has said she also has thought about the men’s record held by Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark, who won 86 races.

Vonn averaged 10 victories per season from 2009 through 2012. If she gets back on that pace and stays healthy, she would need to ski well into the 2016-17 World Cup season to pass Stenmark around age 32.

She also wants to ski at the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics. If she competes there and wins a medal, she is slated to become the oldest women’s Olympic Alpine skiing medalist of all time.

But first, she will celebrate with a glass of champagne with her teammates and her father in Lake Louise on Saturday. When she gets home to Colorado, she will enjoy ice cream with the brindle boxer she adopted in January, Leo, and watch Law & Order, which she appeared on in 2010.

Austrian denies Norwegian history in men’s Beaver Creek race

Alina Zagitova eyes more gold at worlds; women’s preview

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Alina Zagitova hasn’t lost internationally in 18 months, and that doesn’t figure to change this week at the world championships in Milan.

The 15-year-old Russian is favored to become the youngest world gold medalist since Tara Lipinski (duplicating her feat from the Olympics) and make it five straight Olympic or world titles for Russian women, the longest streak for one country since American Carol Heiss won six straight Olympic/world titles from 1956 through 1960.

Zagitova would also become the first Olympic women’s champion to win worlds the following month since Kristi Yamaguchi in 1992. That’s largely because Olympic champions usually skip worlds in Olympic years. Since Yamaguchi, the only one to compete was Yuna Kim, who grabbed silver in 2010.

Zagitova may be young, but she may not have the longevity of Kim to make it to a second Olympics. Russia turns over a new class of elite women’s skaters every year.

Two weeks ago, 13-year-old Alexandra Trusova won the world junior title as the first woman to land two different quadruple jumps in one program. Trusova isn’t old enough to compete at the senior worlds until 2020.

Zagitova’s current rival and training partner, Olympic silver medalist and 2016 and 2017 World champion Yevgenia Medvedeva, withdrew from worlds due to injury.

WORLDS: TV Schedule | Pairs Preview | Nagasu’s Outlook

Which leaves the last two Olympic bronze medalists, Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada and Carolina Kostner of Italy, plus PyeongChang fourth-place finisher Satoko Miyahara of Japan as the top challengers this week.

None finished within seven points of Zagitova at any competition this season, the Russian’s first on the senior international level.

Zagitova set herself apart at the Olympics by putting all of her jumps in the second half of her programs for 10 percent bonuses and landing them all with positive grades of execution.

The U.S. contingent includes national champion Bradie Tennell, two-time Olympian Mirai Nagasu and Mariah Bell (replacement for 2017 U.S. champion Karen Chen).

It is the end of a challenging season for U.S. women. In the autumn, none qualified for the Grand Prix Final for a second straight year (after at least one had done so each of the previous seven seasons).

In PyeongChang, no U.S. woman finished in the top six for the first time in Winter Games history. Tennell, who emerged this season after placing ninth at 2017 Nationals, was the top U.S. Olympic finisher in ninth.

Tennell goes into worlds as the top seeded American — seventh — by best international scores this season.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Best figure skating moments from PyeongChang

Olympic golf qualifying, format largely unchanged for 2020

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic golf tournaments qualifying and format will remain largely the same as they were for the sport’s return to the Games in 2016, according to Golf Channel, citing a memo sent to PGA Tour players.

The format will again be four rounds of stroke play with 60 men and 60 women taken from the world rankings, according to the report.

The qualifying window to determine the rankings will be July 1, 2018 to June 22, 2020 for men and July 8, 2018 to June 29, 2020 for women. That’s a slight change, as for 2016 the dates were the same for men and women.

The 2016 process saw a maximum of two men and two women per country, or up to four if they were ranked in the top 15.

Then-PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said one month after the Rio Games that he hoped the Olympic golf format would be changed to have more medals awarded.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Michael Phelps lost money to Barack Obama in golf, actor says