Lindsey Vonn becomes oldest female World Alpine Skiing Champs medalist

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Frustration was evident in Lindsey Vonn when she finished her downhill run at the world championships on Sunday, nearly a half-second behind Slovenian winner Ilka Stuhec.

Ninety minutes later, she said her bronze medal felt like gold.

Vonn became the oldest woman to earn a medal at worlds, but it was certainly not the color she planned. Austrian Stephanie Venier took silver in St. Moritz, Switzerland, four tenths behind the pre-race favorite Stuhec. Vonn was .45 back.

“Not bad for an old lady,” Vonn joked.

Full results are here. NBC will air coverage Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET.

“It’s been a difficult season,” Vonn said on Eurosport about 45 minutes after her run, before watching the men’s downhill with Roger Federer in the stands. “I’m very thankful for a medal. Now I have a medal in downhill [at worlds] in every color, pretty damn cool. … All things considered, it was a really great performance.”

There is a lot to consider.

Vonn’s return from major injuries to make the podium (and win on the World Cup) at age 32 is the latest impressive feat in her career, the greatest in women’s Alpine history.

Vonn came to St. Moritz unable to put her hair in a ponytail with her injured right hand, a lingering immobility after breaking her right upper arm in a Nov. 10 training crash. Vonn, who also suffered three knee fractures in a Feb. 27 race crash, called the arm injury the most painful of her career.

She skied out of the opening super-G on Tuesday, struggling to hold onto her right ski pole with that hand. She then taped her glove to her pole for the super combined on Friday, when she finished fifth (but was a disappointing sixth after the downhill portion).

Vonn’s bronze on Sunday meant she repeated her results from the 2015 Worlds at home in Vail, Colorado (albeit mismatching the placements and races). Two years ago, she tearfully said she “didn’t live up to expectations.”

There were no tears in the TV interview Sunday. She played into the joke when 2000 Olympic triple jump champion Jonathan Edwards called her “the most matured” women’s medalist in worlds history.

“Yes, I am old,” she said after a laugh. “Actually, it’s a fun position to be in. A lot of these girls, they’re babies. It’s cool. A lot of them look to me for advice. Being a veteran, it’s not that bad. I know what I’m doing.”

Vonn’s medal is the first for the U.S. at these worlds. So far it has been the worst performance for the American team at worlds since 1999, when they went medal-less as host in Vail. It is a reminder of the lack of young talent besides World Cup overall leader Mikaela Shiffrin, who starts Thursday in the giant slalom and Saturday in the slalom in St. Moritz.

Bode Miller hasn’t raced in two years and may never again. He’s commentating for NBC in St. Moritz. Ted Ligety is out for the season due to back surgery after requiring knee surgery last year. Julia Mancuso was on the worlds team but will not race in St. Moritz, still not ready to come back from November 2015 hip surgery.

Miller, Ligety and Mancuso are all older than Vonn.

Vonn will reset her sights on the World Cup tour with two downhills left this season on March 4 and March 15. The biggest remaining goal of her career is to snatch the record for World Cup victories. She has 77. Only Swede Ingemar Stenmark has more with 86.

Vonn returned from the arm injury four weeks ago, and with little training, won her second race. However, her other four World Cup results were a ninth, 12th, 13th and a DNF.

“Nothing has been easy for me the last five years,” said Vonn, who missed the Sochi Olympics due to knee surgery. “No matter what obstacle I face, I feel like I can overcome it.”

With Vonn largely out, the 26-year-old Stuhec has been the phenom of the World Cup season, winning the first three downhills and tacking on super-G and super combined victories for good measure. Her ski technician is her mom.

It took the 2007 and 2008 World junior champion 113 World Cup starts to notch her first podium this season. Now, Stuhec is unquestionably the world’s best downhiller. It’s on Vonn to reclaim that crown in one year in PyeongChang.

“My way here was not easy at all,” said Stuhec, who bowed and rested her arms on the podium before climbing onto the top step and then cried during her national anthem. “Now, I say to myself, I’m a world champion. It’s really something big.”

MORE: Alpine Worlds broadcast schedule

PyeongChang Olympic medals unveiled (photos)

PyeongChang Olympic medal
PyeongChang 2018
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The medals for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics were unveiled in a joint Seoul-New York City ceremony on Wednesday.

The Korean Hangul alphabet was incorporated into the medals’ edges to spell what translates to “PyeongChang Winter Olympics.”

Recent Winter Olympic medals include the Italian piazza design for Torino, the undulating surfaces for Vancouer and a patchwork quilt with diamond-shaped openings for Sochi.

The medals for the previous Olympics in South Korea — the 1988 Seoul Summer Games — were of the more traditional variety.

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MORE: What to watch every day of the PyeongChang Olympics

Medals from past Olympics:

Seoul 1988/Getty Images
Cindy Klassen
Torino 2006/Getty Images
Vancouver 2010
Sochi 2014/Getty Images

U.S. names women’s gymnastics team for world champs

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It was already assured, but now it’s official.

The U.S. women’s gymnastics team for the world championships named Wednesday includes zero Olympians.

As the wait continues for possible elite comebacks by Simone BilesGabby Douglas, Aly RaismanLaurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian, these four gymnasts will chase medals in Montreal in two weeks:

Ragan Smith
P&G Championships all-around winner
Olympic alternate

Smith was the clear favorite going into the P&G Championships, and she delivered. The Texan coached by 1991 World all-around champion Kim Zmeskal Burdette won by 3.4 points, which is greater than the average margin of victory of Biles’ four U.S. all-around titles.

The pressure is on Smith to keep an incredible streak alive. An American gymnast has won every Olympic and world all-around title since 2011. The biggest threat could be Romanian Larisa Iordache, who shared the all-around podium with Biles in 2014 and 2015.

With no team event at worlds this year, the focus is first and foremost on the all-around.

Morgan Hurd
P&G Championships all-around sixth-place finisher

Hurd, a first-year senior who competes in glasses, was adopted from China as a toddler and now lives with her mom in Delaware. She must have really impressed at this week’s selection camp to get a spot over P&G Championships all-around silver medalist Jordan Chiles, who was named an alternate.

Though she had struggles at P&Gs, Hurd is capable of one of the world’s best floor exercise routines.

Ashton Locklear
P&G Championships uneven bars silver medalist
Olympic alternate

The “veteran” of this team at age 19 and the only one with world championships experience. Locklear was probably the closest of the alternates to making the Olympic team, getting edged out by Kocian for the uneven bars specialist spot.

Locklear missed an uneven bars medal at 2014 Worlds by .017. She was second to Riley McCusker on bars last month at P&Gs, where she wasn’t performing her most difficult set.

Jade Carey
P&G Championships vault winner

Carey hopes to follow the path of Kayla Williams, who in 2009 went from not even being an elite-level gymnast to winning the world vault title. Carey, 17, struggled with her Amanar at P&Gs, falling once and nearly sitting it down on the second day.

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