Bode Miller
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Bode Miller could race in January, U.S. coach says

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VAL GARDENA, Italy (AP) — If Bode Miller wants to return to ski racing this season as he approaches the age of 40, he’s going to have to show U.S. Ski Team head coach Sasha Rearick that he’s still got the necessary speed.

“There’s always a chance with Bode — always. But at this point right now we’re not expecting a miracle return real quick,” Rearick told The Associated Press on Friday.

Still, Rearick would not rule out a return for Miller this season, saying the six-time Olympic medalist could “possibly” race in January.

Miller has won 33 World Cup races but he has never won the famed Hahnenkamm downhill in Kitzbuehel, Austria, which is scheduled for Jan. 21.

While he has not raced since severing his right hamstring tendon in February 2015, Miller might be tempted to return in time for Kitzbuehel. That could enable him to qualify for the world championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in February.

The U.S. team can start only four skiers in each race at the worlds.

“He’s going to have to qualify for world championships,” Rearick said. “He would have to show me he’s ready to play or qualify straight up by criteria.”

The 39-year-old Miller did not show much speed during training at Copper Mountain in Colorado last month — trailing several teammates.

“He was not in the mix in those four-five guys, and we were ahead of the Norwegians there,” Rearick said.

The training in Copper was on a 30-second track of about 800 meters (yards), just a fraction of the distance of a full World Cup downhill or super-G.

“So you can’t go off Copper. You got to show me what’s going on right now,” Rearick said.

Miller has not had any race training since Copper, according to Rearick, but the coach said Miller will come to Europe to train early next month and then be evaluated.

At the 2015 World Championships in Beaver Creek, Colo., Miller was leading the super-G after several intervals despite not having raced all season. Then he crashed.

“That was the perfect end to this career — green light, green light, green light and then crash,” Norwegian great Kjetil Andre Aamodt said, referring to Miller’s unpredictability.

If Miller does return, he’s planning to compete on skis from New York-based brand Bomber, which he helped develop. He has asked a court to void his agreement with previous supplier Head.

Miller ended his nearly 10-year partnership with Head in 2015 and signed an agreement not to wear a different ski brand in World Cup or world championship races for the following two years.

“It’s not been decided as far as we know and we don’t know when the court will decide it,” Head racing director Rainer Salzgeber said. “Anyhow, it’s better when he doesn’t ski. That’s clear. It would be nice for the crowd. But his level of skiing in Copper was not there where we want to see Bode.”

Meanwhile, Salzgeber suggested that Lindsey Vonn — who is still supplied by Head — could return from a broken arm in Cortina d’Ampezzo in late January.

“She will start skiing hopefully beginning of January,” Salzgeber said. “Cortina should be OK.”

VIDEO: Vonn details her ‘most painful’ injury

Olympic ski cross champion suffers serious knee injury

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Canadian Marielle Thompson, the reigning Olympic and World Cup ski cross champion, ruptured an ACL and MCL in a training crash in Switzerland.

Alpine Canada did not say when the accident happened or what Thompson’s chances are of returning to defend her Olympic title in PyeongChang.

Thompson flew from Switzerland to Vancouver for an MRI that confirmed the injury.

“I’ll be making a plan with my team moving forward and when the time is right getting back on the ski cross course stronger than ever,” Thompson said in a press release.

Thompson, 25, tore a meniscus in January 2015 and returned to competition 11 months later. She won seven of the 13 World Cup races last season.

Other Olympic medal contenders include Swede Sandra Näslund and Swiss Fanny Smith.

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Nathan Chen leads Yuzuru Hanyu at Grand Prix opener (video)

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U.S. champion Nathan Chen hopes to become comfortable in this spot this season — ahead of reigning Olympic and world champion Yuzuru Hanyu in the standings.

The 18-year-old Chen landed two quadruple jumps in his short program at the opening Grand Prix event in Moscow, taking a 5.69-point lead over Hanyu going into Saturday’s free skate.

Two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva of Russia topped the women’s short program with 80.75 points (one tenth off her world record).

Full Rostelecom Cup results are here.

Chen’s tally — 100.54 points — is the second-highest short of his flourishing international career. It would have been higher if not for two of his three jumping passes receiving negative grades of execution for wonky landings.

The Japanese megastar Hanyu fell on his final jump, a triple toe loop, on Friday. No matter, Winnie the Pooh bears rained down on the ice from the adoring crowd, many of whom traveled from Japan.

Hanyu scored 94.85 points, one month after breaking his world record short program score with 112.72 points in a small event in Canada.

“Today I made some mistakes in my short program, but overall it didn’t feel bad,” Hanyu said, according to the International Skating Union.

Hanyu, though he is the current PyeongChang favorite, has never won his season-opening Grand Prix event in seven tries.

Chen has now outscored Hanyu, who is four years older, in four of their last eight head-to-head skates.

Hanyu was better in the two biggest programs at last season’s world championships. Chen placed sixth at worlds in April, perhaps gassed at the end of his first senior season while competing on duct-taped skates.

In the women’s standings, Medvedeva topped Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner of Italy by 6.13 points.

American Mirai Nagasu landed a triple Axel that was called under rotated and fell on her other two jumping passes. She ended up ninth, two spots behind U.S. bronze medalist Mariah Bell.

In the short dance, two-time world medalists and U.S. champions Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani tallied 77.30 points.

The siblings lead by .97 over Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev going into the free dance.

Russians are one-two in pairs. World bronze medalists Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov lead Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov by 5.49.

All of the free skates are Saturday, live on Olympic Channel. A full schedule is here.

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Rostelecom Cup
Men’s Short
1. Nathan Chen (USA) — 100.54
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 94.85
3. Dmitriy Aliyev (RUS) — 88.77
11. Grant Hochstein (USA) — 67.56

Women’s Short
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 80.75
2. Carolina Kostner (ITA) — 74.64
3. Wakaba Higuchi (JPN) — 69.60
7. Mariah Bell (USA) — 63.85
9. Mirai Nagasu (USA) — 56.15

Short Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 77.30
2. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 76.33
3. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) — 71.32
7. Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (USA) — 59.41

Pairs Short
1. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 76.88
2. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) — 71.39
3. Valentina Marchei/Ondřej Hotárek (ITA) — 68.48
7. Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran (USA) — 54.37