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

Katie Ledecky entered in five events at USA Swimming Nationals

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Katie Ledecky is signed up for five races at the USA Swimming National Championships (Summer Champions Series) next week.

The four-time Rio Olympic champion is entered in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles in Indianapolis. Full entry lists are here.

The top two per individual event qualify for the world championships in Budapest in July, plus extra swimmers in the 100m and 200m frees for relays.

Ledecky is slated to race four of five days in Indy, starting with a Tuesday double of the 100m and 800m frees. A full broadcast schedule is here.

At last year’s Olympic Trials, Ledecky raced the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m frees, when there was no 1500m free on the Olympic program.

The women’s 1500m free will debut at Tokyo 2020, but it has been on the world championships program since 2001.

At this same meet in the last Olympic cycle in 2013, Ledecky contested the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees, winning the three latter races and finishing second to Missy Franklin in the 200m free. Franklin will miss nationals next week as she continues to return from January shoulder surgeries.

Ledecky goes into this year’s nationals ranked No. 1 in the world in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees and No. 5 in the U.S. in the 100m free.

Ledecky showed marked improvement in the 100m free in the last four years. In Rio, she had the second-fastest split on the American 4x100m free relay team that took silver.

Ledecky is ranked No. 1 in the U.S. this year in the 400m individual medley but chose not to race it this summer.

Other headliners for nationals:

  • Ryan Murphy, Olympic 100m and 200m backstroke champion, is entered in all three backstrokes (50m, 100m and 200m) and the 100m freestyle, where he has an outside chance of earning a 4x100m relay berth.
  • Chase Kalisz, Olympic 400m IM silver medalist, is the top seed in the 200m IM and 400m IM and the No. 2 seed in the 200m butterfly.
  • Simone Manuel, four-time Rio medalist, is the top seed in the 50m and 100m frees and the No. 5 seed in the 200m free.
  • Lilly King, Olympic 100m breaststroke champion, is favored to make the team in the 50m, 100m and 200m breasts. She is also entered in the 200m IM.
  • The men’s 50m free is loaded with Olympic champions Anthony ErvinNathan AdrianCullen Jones and Caeleb Dressel as the top four seeds.

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Ex-USA Gymnastics doctor to stand trial on sex assault charges

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MASON, Mich. (AP) — A judge on Friday ordered a longtime doctor at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics to stand trial on charges of sexually assaulting six young gymnasts who said he molested them while they were seeking treatment for various injuries.

Judge Donald Allen Jr. made his decision after hearing testimony from the alleged victims over two days and watching a campus police interview of Dr. Larry Nassar.

It is one of four Michigan criminal cases against Nassar following reports last year in the Indianapolis Star about how USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians, mishandled complaints about sexual misconduct involving the doctor and coaches. Women and girls said the stories inspired them to step forward with detailed allegations of abuse, sometimes when their parents were in the exam room at Michigan State.

“He convinced these girls that this was some type of legitimate treatment,” Assistant Attorney General Angela Poviliatis told the judge. “Why would they question him? Why would they question this gymnastics god?”

Nassar didn’t testify nor did his lawyers offer an argument against sending the case to trial. The legal threshold in Michigan is probable cause, a low standard at the initial stages of a criminal case.

The final evidence Friday was a video of Nassar’s 40-minute interview last August with a Michigan State police detective, who was investigating a complaint from a former gymnast, now in her 30s. He was not under arrest and spoke voluntarily.

Nassar denied any inappropriate contact and said he got no sexual pleasure from treating gymnasts. He said if he had an erection, as a gymnast claimed, “that’s rather embarrassing.”

The camera was above Nassar’s head. He repeatedly moved his arms and hands as he explained his techniques, using phrases such as “lift and shift” and “tissue tension” to describe treatments for back and hip injuries. He sighed, scratched his forehead and appeared frustrated with the allegations against him.

“I’m trying my best to help the patient. I’m trying to get real-time feedback. I don’t want to hurt someone,” Nassar told Det. Sgt. Andrea Munford.

The judge watched the video and later noted that Nassar had put his fingers in a position that matched the testimony of one of the alleged victims, who said the doctor had penetrated her with his hands in 2000.

“Every victim who testified was unambiguous” about being molested, Poviliatis said. “They were clear and consistent and precise.”

Outside of the criminal cases, Nassar and Michigan State are being sued by dozens of women and girls. Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics also is a defendant in some of the lawsuits.

Nassar will appear in court in Eaton County next Friday on assault charges involving two more gymnasts. He’s separately charged in federal court in Grand Rapids with possessing child pornography.

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