Career-best speed result for Mikaela Shiffrin

Leave a comment

CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy — Lara Gut crashed. Mikaela Shiffrin was ecstatic after finishing fourth. Lindsey Vonn, meanwhile, was just happy to make it down safely in 12th.

It was an up-and-down day for the biggest names in women’s ski racing Sunday as Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia took advantage of bib No. 1 to win the first World Cup super-G of her career.

Stuhec finished 0.31 seconds ahead of Sofia Goggia of Italy and 0.70 in front of two-time overall champion Anna Veith of Austria.

Gut, the defending overall champion, was fastest through the first two checkpoints when she lost control and twisted around in the air. She was fortunate to land with her skis facing downhill and came away with only bruises on her right leg and arm, according to the Swiss team.

“That’s not the way I expected to end my weekend,” Gut, who won Saturday’s downhill, wrote on Facebook. “I’m OK. Ice will be my best friend for the next few days.”

Shiffrin missed the podium by 0.03 seconds and extended her overall lead to 80 points ahead of Gut after the best speed result of her career.

The American’s previous best speed result was 13th.

“That was really fun,” said Shiffrin, the Olympic and two-time world champion in slalom. “It felt like solid skiing, and I was taking the line that we inspected and maybe even more aggressive in some spots.

“Sometimes in speed if you feel good you’re slow, so when I came to the bottom, I was like, ‘That can’t be good.’ Then I saw I was in fourth and I was like, ‘What? No way,'” added Shiffrin, who was racing in Cortina for the first time. “So that was kind of cool, and I’m going to really look at the video and figure out what sort of things I can take from today.”

It was another perfect day in the resort known as the “Queen” of the Dolomites Range, with the Olympia delle Tofane course bathed in sunshine and uninhibited 360-degree views all across the valley.

While her coach, Chris Knight, set the course, Vonn took it easy after crashing the previous two days. Vonn, who has won a record 11 races in Cortina, is still regaining her form in super-G after returning recently from nearly a year out with knee and arm injuries.

It was the first time Vonn left Cortina without a win since 2009.

“It definitely wasn’t the weekend that I was hoping for, but I think all things considered it’s good that I’m still in one piece,” Vonn said. “It was definitely really conservative skiing, but I got to the finish and that was the most important part.

“I really didn’t want to risk everything today and not finish again and then have no confidence for the world championships,” Vonn added. “So I executed my plan, and now I just need a couple of days off. I’m definitely stiff from hitting the fence so hard two times in a row. Get a couple good days of super-G training in and I think I’ll be ready to go.”

Stuhec won the opening three downhills of this season but had never finished better than fourth in super-G.

“It wasn’t a usual super-G,” Stuhec said. “It was faster with a few less turns, but in the end you need to ski whatever they set.”

With her ninth podium result this season, Goggia matched the Italian women’s team record of nine set by Deborah Compagnoni in 1996-97 and 1997-98.

Goggia is still seeking her first career win.

“I skied at 70-75 percent of what I can do,” Goggia said. “I was coming off two DNFs in super-G, so I’m happy with the result and I know I can push harder and harder. … I’m just thinking about skiing and doing the right things, and then the win will come.”

It was the first podium result for Veith since she returned in December, 14 months after badly damaging her right knee in a training crash.

Veith, formerly known as Anna Fenninger, achieved the first podium result of her career in a super-G in Cortina in 2009.

“It’s not exactly the same feeling, but it was nearly the same because it was also surprising for me,” Veith said. “I knew I could ski fast, but I had only had fast split times. Today I put together the entire run, and I’m happy that it was enough.”

Still recovering from hip surgery, Julia Mancuso delayed her return after nearly two years out and tested the course instead as a forerunner.

Up next is a parallel city event in Stockholm on Tuesday — the final race before the world championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, from Feb. 7-19.

MORE: Lately, Lindsey Vonn is crashing more than she’s winning

Chinese lead, star pairs struggle in world championships short program

AP
Leave a comment

China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong recorded the highest pairs short program score in the world since the 2014 Olympics, topping the world championships field in Helsinki on Wednesday.

Two-time defending world champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada and Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov are well behind in seventh and 13th place, respectively.

Sui and Han, in just their second event this season, tallied a personal-best 81.23 points.

They lead by 1.39 over Germans Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot going into the free skate Thursday (1 p.m. ET, NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov are in third.

The Chinese will go for their first world title after giving up a short-program lead last year and taking silver for a second straight time.

Full worlds short program results are here.

PREVIEWS: Men | Women | Pairs | Dance | TV schedule

Sui and Han missed the fall season after Sui underwent right ankle and left foot surgeries last spring. They returned at the Four Continents Championships in February and posted personal-best free skate and total scores, ranking only behind Tarasova and Morozov for the season.

Duhamel and Radford, looking to become the first pair to three-peat in 40 years, came in slowed by Radford’s hip injury suffered in the last week. Radford was off-balance on his triple toe loop landing Wednesday. Duhamel’s hand touched the ice on her throw triple Lutz landing.

They scored 72.67 points, which is 8.56 behind Sui and Han.

Stolbova and Klimov both suffered falls in their short program and scored 65.59, qualifying for the 16-pair free skate by four points. The Russian champions missed the autumn season due to Stolbova’s left leg injury.

The top U.S. pair was Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim, who posted a personal-best 72.17 points for eighth place. The husband-and-wife pair are competing for the second time this season after Scimeca Knierim’s serious abdominal injury.

U.S. champions Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier suffered two falls and placed 20th, matching the worst U.S. pairs finish in worlds history. They did not qualify for the 16-pair free skate.

Therefore, the Knierims must finish 10th or better after the free skate to ensure the U.S. earns two pairs places at the 2018 Olympics.

Pairs is the U.S.’ weakest discipline. The last U.S. medal in pairs at worlds came in 2002. The last Olympic medal was in 1988.

North Korean pair Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik placed 14th in the short program, the highest of any pair expected to compete for one of four final Olympic quota spots in September.

North Korea sent no athletes to the Sochi Olympics, and it’s not a guarantee it will qualify any athletes for PyeongChang, or if it will send athletes to South Korea in February. But Ryom and Kim’s personal best by nearly 11 points on Wednesday was very encouraging.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: U.S. pairs skater back from life-threatening condition

Pairs Short Program
1. Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN) — 81.23
2. Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER) — 79.84
3. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 79.37
8. Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Christopher Knierim (USA) — 72.17
20. Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier (USA) — 56.23

Missy Franklin out due to shoulder surgeries

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Missy Franklin is sidelined from swimming competition for an undisclosed period of time to recover from surgeries on both of her shoulders due to bursitis, according to her social media.

“This is what’s best for me to come stronger than ever,” was posted on Franklin’s Instagram. “I’m so far from being done with this sport.”

The five-time Olympic champion was diagnosed in early January following an MRI, underwent surgeries that month and has returned to limited training.

Franklin, who has not raced since the Rio Olympics, will not compete in the next USA Swimming Pro Series meet in Mesa, Ariz., in two weeks.

Her return date is not set.

The U.S. Championships are in June in Indianapolis and serve as a qualifying meet for the world championships in Budapest in July.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!