Swiss Beat Feuz wins men’s downhill world title at home

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ST. MORITZ, Switzerland (AP) — Host nation Switzerland got the world championships gold medal it most wanted when Beat Feuz won the downhill Sunday.

Roger Federer had a front-row seat in the stands to see Feuz finish 0.12 seconds faster than Erik Guay of Canada, denying the winner of Wednesday’s super-G a speed title double.

Max Franz of Austria was third, 0.37 behind Feuz, who took downhill bronze two years ago.

Full results are here. NBCSN will air coverage Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.

Though Feuz’s top speed of 119 kph (74 mph) was slower than many rivals, he was best at keeping speed through the twisting turns midway down a shortened course.

“I felt the pressure,” said Feuz, favored to repeat his win in the World Cup finals downhill last March, through a translator. “I knew the expectations of the Swiss people. It was important not to go crazy with all that.”

A lower start was used because the steep “Free Fall” section – the signature feature of the Corviglia course – was shrouded in clouds, and a lower start was used. Sunshine lit the slope one day after more fog forced the race to be postponed on Feuz’s 30th birthday.

The marquee men’s race shaped as open when the Olympic champion, world champion, season-long World Cup champion, and the past six World Cup race winners were all different racers.

Still, Feuz carried Swiss hopes on a home course he knows well, and had been fastest in a training run on Tuesday.

Racing as the No. 13 starter, Feuz broke a tie for the lead after Swiss teammate Patrick Kueng, the defending champion, matched Kjetil Jansrud of Norway. Kueng and Jansrud even posted the same time at each of the first two check points, and eventually shared fourth place.

“Hats off to Beat, I think he did an incredible job today,” said the 35-year-old Guay, who was seeking to match Bode Miller‘s achievement 12 years ago of winning both speed races. “I felt some pressure, for sure.”

Feuz joined Swiss teammate Wendy Holdener, winner of the women’s combined event on Friday, as home gold medalists from the first five races.

The Swiss men’s team had underachieved this season, and its only win on the World Cup circuit was a fluke success for Niels Hintermann in a snow-affected combined event at Wengen. Hintermann was not selected in the five-man Swiss team Sunday.

The Swiss got it right, and the Alpine nation’s most famous resident Federer, sitting with his wife Mirka, and Lindsey Vonn, looked on approvingly.

Vonn took bronze two hours earlier in the women’s downhill, won by Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia.

Stuhec was faster than any of the men Sunday, clocking 125.6 kph (78 mph) on the adjoining course.

Without their steep start, the men’s race peaked at 122.5 kph (76 mph) clocked by Austria’s Hannes Reichelt, who placed 17th.

“I would have loved to start from Free Fall because it’s a little bit faster then,” said Feuz, whose run turned out to be fast enough regardless.

Worlds continue with the men’s super combined Monday on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

MORE: Alpine Worlds broadcast schedule

What to watch at Drake Relays, Penn Relays

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Olympic gold medalists ramp up their track and field seasons at the Penn Relays and Drake Relays, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold this weekend.

Athletes are working toward the U.S. Championships in June and the world championships in August.

First, the historic Penn Relays will air on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold on Friday (5:30-6:30 p.m. ET) and Saturday (12:30-3 p.m. ET).

USA vs. The World in men’s and women’s 4x100m, 4x400m and sprint medley relays will air live on Saturday from Franklin Field in Philadelphia. A full schedule is here.

The U.S. teams are led by Olympic relay champions English Gardner and Natasha Hastings. The full roster is here.

Rio Olympic rematches highlight the individual-event fields at the Drake Relays in Des Moines on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold from 3-5 p.m ET on Saturday. A full schedule is here.

Perhaps no field is deeper than the 100m hurdles. World-record holder Keni Harrison takes on Rio silver and bronze medalists Kristi Castlin and Nia Ali, plus 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson.

The 110m hurdles contingent is strong as well. It features the last two Olympic champions, Jamaican Omar McLeod and American Aries Merritt, plus 2013 World champion David Oliver.

Grenada’s Kirani James and American LaShawn Merritt, who earned silver and bronze in Rio, go head-to-head again in the 400m at Drake.

The men’s 1500m is headlined by Rio Olympic 800m bronze medalist Clayton Murphy and London Olympic 1500m silver medalist Leo Manzano.

Rio bronze medalist Jenny Simpson races individually for the first time this year in the women’s 1500m.

That field also includes New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin, who gained fame of her own in Rio. Hamblin and American Abbey D’Agostino fell in an Olympic 5000m heat and helped each other make it to the finish line. Both were praised for their sportsmanship.

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IOC president unsure whether esports should be considered sport

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Esports are gaining momentum in the international sports movement, but they are not close to becoming an Olympic sport.

“We are not yet 100 percent clear whether esports is really sport, with regard to physical activity and what it needs to be considered sport,” IOC president Thomas Bach said Tuesday, according to insidethegames. “We do not see an organization or a structure that will give us confidence, or guarantee, that in this area the Olympic rules and values of sport are respected and in place, and that the implementation of these rules are monitored and secured.”

The first clear step (of many) to become an Olympic sport is for the IOC to recognize the sport’s international governing body.

Esports will be added as a medal sport to the Asian Games in 2022, and has been praised by LA 2024 Olympic bid chairman Casey Wasserman, but it is not yet IOC recognized.

“We are watching it, we see the differences, we see the lack of organisation,” Bach said, according to the report. “But we also see the high engagement of youth in esports. Therefore, we have to carefully consider how this could be consolidated.”

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