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Lindsey Vonn: I can still win World Cup season titles

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Lindsey Vonn believes she can win her ninth World Cup downhill title and her sixth World Cup super-G title, despite missing the early part of the season due to her broken right arm.

Vonn will race for the first time since Feb. 28 in a World Cup downhill in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria, on Saturday (5:15 a.m. ET, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app; 3 p.m. ET, NBC).

“I want to race as much as possible,” Vonn said Thursday when asked why she came back so quickly from her Nov. 10 surgery. “The more races I can get in before world championships [in February] is obviously the goal. I also think that the World Cup title is still a possibility in both downhill and super-G.

“Mainly, I was just going crazy not being able to race.”

So far this season, three of the eight scheduled downhills have been contested, and two of the seven super-Gs. Slovenian Ilka Stuhec won all three downhills. Swiss Lara Gut won both super-Gs.

But Vonn noted that she didn’t finish two of last season’s nine downhills and didn’t start another after suffering three large fractures in her left knee in a Feb. 27 race crash. She won five and finished second in the other six, clinching the title before the season finale.

Likewise, she missed two of last season’s eight super-Gs and failed to finish another. In the five she did finish, Vonn won three and notched a pair of third-place finishes. She ended up 61 points shy of season titlist Gut.

Vonn would like to add to her trophy case of a record 20 crystal globes (four overall, 16 discipline titles). Her previously stated primary goal is to close in on the World Cup career wins record of 86 held by Swede Ingemar Stenmark.

Vonn is at 76 wins. She would probably have to win all of her World Cup races this season, the remaining five downhills and five super-Gs, to match Stenmark. More likely, she’ll continue the pursuit next season, the Olympic season.

Vonn said she will race with “a large risk of doing more damage” to her arm for the rest of her career. It’s susceptible to another fracture above and below a plate inserted into her arm from her November surgery.

She will race with double to triple the normal amount of padding on her arm.

“Normally, in downhill, I don’t race with any padding on my arms,” she said. “It’s definitely not going to be aerodynamic, but at least I’ll be protected somewhat. If I twist my arm, get it caught behind me, that will be dangerous.”

Four-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso is also expected to take a downhill training run Friday and possibly race Saturday. Mancuso has been out since March 2015 due to hip surgery.

“She came over to Europe a few days before me,” Vonn said. “It’s nice to have the whole team back together again. Last year, without her, definitely felt a little bit of a whole in the team.”

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Katie Ledecky wins again at nationals; Lilly King sets Russian showdown

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Katie Ledecky, racing while not very rested, still lowered her fastest time in the world this year in the 200m freestyle by a half-second Wednesday night.

And Lilly King set up another showdown with her Russian rival.

Ledecky took her second title in as many days at the USA Swimming Nationals, part of the TeamUSA Summer Champions Series, presented by Comcast.

The quadruple Rio Olympic champion clocked 1:54.84 to win by 1.84 seconds over Leah Smith, repeating their one-two finish from the 800m freestyle Tuesday in Indianapolis.

SWIM NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | Event Schedule/Results

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

The women’s 200m free was loaded with not only Ledecky and Smith, but also Mallory Comerford, who on Tuesday swam the second-fastest 100m free ever by an American. Plus, Olympic 100m free champion Simone Manuel and Olympian Melanie Margalis.

They made up the top five in the 200m free final, putting them all in the world 4x200m free relay pool.

Ledecky has one race left at nationals, the 400m freestyle on Friday. She is the least tapered she’s ever been at a trials meet, meaning she should be much faster at worlds.

If she finishes top two in the 400m free, she’ll be in line to swim six events at worlds in Budapest, her busiest schedule yet at an Olympics or worlds. In 15 career Olympic/world events, Ledecky brought home 14 golds and one silver.

In other events Thursday, King took 2.2 seconds off her 200m breaststroke personal best to win in 2:21.83 over Bethany Galat.

Only Rebecca Soni and Micah Lawrence have swum faster among Americans all time. Only Russian rival Yuliya Efimova has swum faster this year (though significantly, 2:19.83). King of course won the Rio 100m breast over Efimova but didn’t make the Olympic 200m breast final.

Olympic silver medalist Josh Prenot failed to make the world team in the men’s 200m breast, finishing third behind Rio teammate Kevin Cordes and Nic Fink.

Townley Haas convincingly won the men’s 200m free in a personal-best 1:45:03. Haas had the fastest 4x200m free relay split in Rio but finished fifth in the individual final at his first Olympics.

His time on Thursday is second to only one man over the last three years — Olympic champion Sun Yang.

Rio 4x100m free member Blake Pieroni finished second Thursday (1:46.30) to nab the other world team spot.

Zane Grothe (1:46.39) and Olympic bronze medalist Conor Dwyer (1:47.25) were third and fourth and made the relay. The last time Dwyer did not qualify for the 200m free at a major international meet was the 2012 Olympics.

Olympic champion Ryan Murphy took the 200m backstroke followed by Jacob Pebley in a repeat of the Olympic Trials.

Kathleen Baker won the women’s 200m backstroke by 2.17 seconds in 2:06.38, the fastest time in the world this year. The Olympic 100m back silver medalist dropped 2.98 seconds off her personal best in the 200m back on Wednesday.

Regan Smith, a 15-year-old who finished second, will in Budapest become the youngest American to race individually at a worlds since Elizabeth Beisel in 2007.

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Usain Bolt wins Ostrava 100m, unhappy with time, then long jumps

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Usain Bolt won a 100m in 10.06 seconds, his slowest time in a 100m final this late into a season, and then cited a tight back in Ostrava on Wednesday.

Video of his race is here.

“I just need to go to my doctor and get everything checked out to make sure everything is smooth,” Bolt said, according to British media on site. “It’s just my back, as always. It is a bit tight. But I didn’t get injured, and that’s the key thing. It’s just about sorting it out, and I should be fine.”

Bolt, in his farewell season, has run 10.03 and 10.06 in two 100m races, his slowest final times in June or later of his career. He has one more meet scheduled — Monaco on July 21 — before the world championships in London in August.

Bolt moved into the lead — past a sprinter who has never broken 10 seconds — about 50 meters into Wednesday’s race in the Czech city. He slowed his final few strides once victory was assured, extending a four-year winning streak in individual races.

“I’m not happy with the time, but I’m just getting into my running,” said Bolt, who missed two or three weeks of training this spring following the death of friend and 2008 Olympic high jump silver medalist Germaine Mason. “I have some training to do.”

Bolt has until the world 100m final on Aug. 5 to round into form. He has done it before, but as mentioned never from this kind of time deficit at the start of a summer.

“His preparation is not normally where it used to be at this time, so he is certainly has ground to catch up,” Bolt’s coach, Glen Mills, said this week, according to the Jamaica Gleaner. “A number of factors have interfered with his preparation, but I thought he ran brilliantly at the Racers Grand Prix [the 10.03 on June 10]. His 10.03 in his first race in almost a year with the setbacks in place, if we can build on that over the next six to seven weeks, we should be able to be right where we can feel comfortable taking on the rest of the world.”

The fastest man in the world this year is American Christian Coleman, who ran 9.82 seconds at the NCAA Championships on June 7. Coleman clocked a best of 9.93 in three rounds at the USATF Outdoor Championships last week.

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