Second crash for Lindsey Vonn in two days (video)

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CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy — Defending overall World Cup champion Lara Gut won her first downhill of the season Saturday, while Lindsey Vonn crashed for the second consecutive day.

Gut finished 0.05 seconds ahead of Sofia Goggia of Italy and 0.47 seconds in front of Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia.

The Swiss skier was competing in the final downhill before her home world championships in St. Moritz.

“There’s no better way to enter Worlds,” Gut said.

The victory reduced Gut’s deficit in the overall standings behind American leader Mikaela Shiffrin to 30 points.

Vonn lost control and slammed into the safety netting in the same spot where she crashed in Friday’s training run.

“I’m OK. I’m a little sore, but hopefully I’ll be fine for tomorrow,” the American said. “I just caught my edge, that’s all.”

After collecting herself, Vonn skied down to the finish area. She had already had a small bobble earlier in her run but was 0.18 seconds ahead of Gut at the first checkpoint just before her crash.

Vonn had asked the International Ski Federation’s race director to smooth out a small lip that gave her trouble in training.

“They changed it, but I still caught air,” Vonn said. “I just caught my edge and did the splits. It happens, unfortunately.”

Vonn, who has won a record 11 races in Cortina, returned earlier this month from nearly a year out with injuries.

Ramona Siebenhofer of Austria, Nicol Delago of Italy and Valerie Grenier of Canada also fell.

Goggia had the Italian crowd going wild before Gut came down and silenced the fans with a perfect performance on the lower section of the Olympia delle Tofane course, which is full of curves.

“I didn’t have a really fast start, but from the middle of the slope, it was getting better and better, and I had more confidence in my skis and [was] really able to finish well,” said Gut, who trailed Goggia at each checkpoint. “It’s better to have the green light at the finish than just at the intervals.”

It was the 23rd win of Gut’s World Cup career and her first downhill victory in Cortina — which is considered the premier stop on the women’s circuit.

As usual, the Olympia delle Tofane course was bathed in sunshine, and skiers hit speeds of 75 mph in the Tofane schuss, a narrow chute between two walls of rock.

“There’s not a place in [the] world where the slope is so [well] prepared,” Gut said. “I wish we had more places like Cortina. It’s just cool.”

It was the eighth podium result this season for Goggia, who is still seeking her first victory. She needs one more podium to match the Italian women’s team record of nine set by Deborah Compagnoni in 1996-97 and 1997-98.

Stuhec, who won the opening three downhills of the season, retained a 77-point lead ahead of Gut in the downhill standings.

Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany finished fourth, and Nicole Schmidhofer of Austria was fifth.

Breezy Johnson was the top American in a career-best 10th, and teammate Stacey Cook finished 11th.

Julia Mancuso did not enter the race, preferring to delay her return from hip surgery to Sunday’s super-G.

Sonja Henie record at stake; figure skating worlds pairs preview

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When Aljona Savchenko won her first gold medal at her fifth Olympics with her third different partner in PyeongChang, she said she “wrote history.”

She can write some more this week.

Savchenko, who at 34 became the oldest female figure skating champion in Winter Olympic history, and partner Bruno Massot are the only pairs medalists from PyeongChang who are back for the world championships in Milan.

The Germans headline the field for the short program Wednesday and free skate Friday.

MORE: World Champs TV Schedule

Savchenko can tie Norwegian Sonja Henie for the female record of 11 world championships medals. She can grab a share of second on the all-time pairs list with a sixth world title, four shy of Soviet Irina Rodnina‘s record.

Savchenko, who won four crowns with now-retired Robin Szolkowy, goes for her first world title with Massot. They’re clear favorites.

Olympic silver medalists Sui Wenjing and Han Cong withdrew from worlds due to Sui’s foot injury. Olympic bronze medalists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford retired.

It’s arguably a surprise that Savchenko and Massot chose to compete in Milan. They’re the first Olympic pairs champions to compete at a post-Olympic worlds since 1992.

Their top challengers are Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, who outscored Savchenko and Massot in the Olympic short program but dropped off the podium in the free skate with a fall on their throw.

U.S. champions Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim, 15th at the Olympics, made the top 10 in all of their four world championships appearances with a best finish of seventh. The last U.S. pairs medal came in 2002, the nation’s longest drought in any figure skating discipline.

The Knierims were the only U.S. pair in PyeongChang, but in Milan they’re joined by Deanna Stellato and Nathan Bartholomay.

Stellato earned singles silver at the 2000 World Junior Championships, then retired at age 17 due to hip injuries. She came back at age 32 in 2016 in pairs and, with the Sochi Olympian Bartholomay, took bronze at this year’s nationals.

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MORE: Best figure skating moments from PyeongChang

Mirai Nagasu enters worlds motivated by Olympic finish, future undecided

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A sense of validation coursed through Mirai Nagasu. Probably in PyeongChang, when she became the first U.S. woman to land a triple Axel at the Olympics. Definitely two weeks ago, when she attended the Academy Awards.

“It felt like I had really made it,” she said in an interview with NBC Sports Research. “The Oscars was open bar, so I had a little champagne there.”

The 24-year-old had earned at least that much, but somewhere in the back of her mind on March 4 had to be Milan, where she would be in two weeks for the world championships.

“It’s hard to [train] programs when you want to go on vacation and sip a mimosa,” Nagasu said, “but something about alcohol and training doesn’t mix well.”

Most of the other big-name U.S. Olympic figure skaters — including Adam Rippon and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani — withdrew from worlds, along with many international medalists, after the Olympics. For some, there were simply too many off-ice opportunities to fit in training. Others, exhaustion. Or retirement.

None of the above for Nagasu.

“Part of the reason I want to go to worlds [is] because I know I’m capable of performing better than I did in the long,” she said.

MORE: World Figure Skating Championships TV Schedule

Nagasu wasn’t referring to her memorable long program from the Olympic team event, where she helped the U.S. secure a bronze medal with that triple Axel.

Rather, she meant the individual free skate.

A fatigued Nagasu popped her planned triple Axel for zero points and singled a triple Lutz. She finished 10th overall, part of the worst U.S. women’s results in Winter Olympic history (but not completely unexpected given the pre-Olympic world rankings).

Nagasu knew that she was a dark-horse bronze-medal pick after her personal-best free skate in the team event. She scored nearly 18 fewer points in the individual long program.

So Nagasu decided to compete at worlds after making the U.S. team outright for the annual event for the first time since 2010.

She hopes to land the triple Axel in both programs Wednesday and Friday. That might be necessary to challenge for the podium. Most of the top women from the Olympics are in this week’s field, except silver medalist Yevgenia Medvedeva of Russia and Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto, sixth in PyeongChang.

It could be the last competition of Nagasu’s career. She has not decided if she will compete in the fall.

“Some days I want to throw my skates in the trash, and other days I’m like, I still love this and I want to kill myself doing programs every day,” she said. “Right now I want to do my best at worlds, and that’s what I’m focused on. … I can’t even really think about competing next season.”

NBC Sports figure skating researcher Sarah Hughes contributed to this report.

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MORE: Best figure skating moments from PyeongChang