Lindsey Vonn

Lindsey Vonn captures World Cup downhill season title with 66th win (video)

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Lindsey Vonn won for the seventh time this season, the 66th time in her World Cup career, and clinched her record-tying seventh World Cup downhill season title in Meribel, France, on Wednesday.

“It’s incredible,” Vonn said shortly after receiving her 18th career crystal globe trophy across all disciplines at the World Cup Finals. “After being out for two years with two major knee operations was definitely hard. To come back this year to get the downhill title again and to have an amazing season means so much to me.

“This is probably the most meaningful globe I’ve ever won.”

Vonn beat the field by .24, raising her arms and screaming after she crossed the finish line and saluting the crowd, which included several “Lindsey We Love You” signs. Austrians Elisabeth Goergl and Nicole Hosp were second and third.

Vonn, in her comeback season after two major knee surgeries knocked her out of the Sochi Olympics, matched Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell‘s women’s record for number of World Cup season titles in one discipline.

“I was happy with just a few wins [this season], but to actually get a globe is more than I had hoped for,” Vonn told media in Meribel.

Vonn also moved within one of the record for total season titles across all disciplines and the overall. She can match Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark‘s 19 if she wins the super-G on Thursday.

“Another day, another opportunity,” Vonn said.

Vonn, 30, won six straight downhill season titles from 2008 through 2013 before missing most of last season due to her knee injuries.

She entered Wednesday with a 35-point lead over Anna Fenninger in the downhill season standings, after seven of eight races. Fenninger skied before Vonn on Wednesday and crossed the finish line in fourth place. That meant all Vonn needed was to finish 15th to wrap up the season title.

Vonn goes into Thursday’s super-G with an eight-point lead on Fenninger. If both Vonn and Fenninger finish in the top four, whoever has the higher finish will take that crystal globe.

In this year’s overall title standings, Tina Maze moved to within 12 points of leader and defending champion Fenninger with three races remaining. Maze finished fourth Wednesday; Fenninger eighth.

Earlier Wednesday, Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud won the men’s downhill and clinched the season title, adding to his super-G crown. Steven Nyman was the top American in fourth.

Jansrud moved to 64 points behind Austrian Marcel Hirscher for the overall title and could move into the lead after Thursday’s super-G. Hirscher’s best events — giant slalom and slalom — are Saturday and Sunday.

Julia Mancuso in Maui for World Cup Finals

Despite blade trouble, Nathan Chen leads men at Skate America

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Nathan Chen leads the men’s field at Skate America after tallying 104.12 points, a new personal best, on Friday night.

During the six-minute warm-up before the final group of skaters, Chen could be seen conferring with his coach, Rafael Arutunian, about his blade. He explained on the Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA broadcast that during the warm-up, Arutunian manipulated the blade to fix the edge. They plan on playing with it again so it’s better for Saturday’s free skate.

“There’s a lot of points that I could have gotten last year and I’m making sure I take care of them this year,” Chen said of his personal best, according to U.S. Figure Skating. “The score is still not that close to some of the top men currently, but that’s something that I know is attainable and it’s something I’m going to work toward.”

Arutunian’s other pupil in the men’s field, Adam Rippon, is in second place behind Chen with a personal best of his own – 89.04 points. Sergei Voronov of Russia sits in third place after the short with 87.51 points.

The third American in the field, Ross Miner, popped a triple Axel and didn’t receive any credit for the element. He tallied 71.59 points and sits in eighth place heading into the free.

The free skate will determine which skaters earn a berth to the Grand Prix Final in Japan in two weeks. Chen, despite being a favorite for the Skate America title, can finish anywhere among the top four for a berth to the Final. Voronov can also finish in the top four to make it to the Final. Rippon needs to finish anywhere on the podium.

Plus, with reigning Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu and his training partner Javier Fernandez (a two-time world champion himself) out of the Grand Prix Final, the podium there is wide open. Patrick Chan, a three-time world champion and the Sochi silver medalist, won’t be at the Grand Prix Final either.

MORE: Skate America TV Schedule

Earlier Friday, in the pairs field, Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford scored 75.37 to lead the field after the short program.

China’s Yu Xiaoyu and Zhang Hao followed for second with 73.67 points. Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot, who represent Germany, earned 72.55 points for third place after the short program. All three teams have a chance to qualify for the exclusive Grand Prix Final should the podium stand is after Saturday’s free skate. Even with a shakeup among the top three, it is likely that they will all qualify.

The top American team was married couple Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim, who scored 64.27 and are fourth after the short. Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier tallied 63.04 (sixth) and Deanna Stellato and Nathan Bartholomay are eighth with 57.18 points.

MORE: Bruno Massot earns German citizenship

Massot gets German citizenship, path cleared for Pyeongchang

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LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) — Bruno Massot learned Thursday he has passed his German citizenship test, clearing the way for him and partner Aliona Savchenko to compete at the Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Massot was born in Caen, France, and qualified for the 2014 Sochi Games on the French team, but he was held out of the Olympics because partner Daria Popova did not gain French citizenship in time.

He has since partnered with Savchenko, a Sochi participant, and been working to become a German citizen. This was his third time taking the German citizenship test, and the final time he would be able to qualify for citizenship in time for the Olympics.

“It’s really different,” Massot told The Associated Press, “because I don’t have this now anymore in my head, this question like, `I will be blocked again, or not?”‘

Massot’s naturalization ceremony will take place next Wednesday. Massot and Savchenko are in Lake Placid competing at Skate America this week.

MORE: Skate America preview, TV schedule