Lindsey Vonn just misses downhill win at 2018 Olympic track

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Lindsey Vonn looked golden at the 2018 Olympic track, up until Sofia Goggia crossed the finish line.

The Italian Goggia edged Vonn by .07 of a second in a World Cup downhill in Jeongseon, South Korea, site of the PyeongChang Olympic speed races in 11 months.

“I think it’s better that I save my best skiing for the Olympics,” an upbeat Vonn said afterward. “I was second as well in Vancouver at the test event [in 2008] before the [2010] Olympics. If that shows any indication of what’s to come next year, hopefully that’s what it means.”

Vonn put up a strong run as the first racer to go at the first women’s World Cup race in South Korea. Goggia, the fifth racer, trailed Vonn at every split until the finish.

Goggia was .22 behind with about 11 seconds left but made up nearly three tenths in the final portion.

The Italian recorded her first World Cup win after 10 previous podium finishes this season, including a world championships giant slalom bronze.

Full Results | Race Replay

Vonn was hoping for her second win in 10 races since returning in January from crash-caused knee and arm fractures last year, and her 78th World Cup win overall.

She arrived in South Korea on Tuesday after a race crash last Saturday in Switzerland that left her with neck whiplash, plus food poisoning last week.

Nevertheless, Vonn was fastest in both downhill training runs Thursday and Friday, saying afterward her confidence level on the track was similar to how she feels at her favorite venue of Lake Louise, Alberta.

Vonn has won 18 times in 41 World Cup starts at Lake Louise, a record number for any racer (male or female) at one place in history.

She remains nine wins shy of the World Cup record of 86 held by retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark.

Vonn will race again Sunday in a World Cup super-G in Jeongseon, live on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.

South Korea is 14 hours ahead of New York time.

World Cup overall leader Mikaela Shiffrin is skipping the South Korean speed races to prepare for next week’s giant slalom and slalom in Squaw Valley, Calif.

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MORE: Vonn among Olympic medalists in documentary about gender in sports

Yuzuru Hanyu opens Olympic season with record score

Yuzuru Hanyu
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A sore knee didn’t hold Yuzuru Hanyu back. A record score to open his Olympic season.

The Olympic and world champion from Japan hit a pair of quadruple jumps in his short program at the Autumn Classic, a lower-level event in Montreal.

He was rewarded with 112.72 points, the highest short program score recorded under the 13-year-old judging system. Video is here.

It looked like a home competition for Hanyu.

Upon finishing, he bowed toward one set of bleachers (maybe a dozen rows) at the Sportsplexe Pierrefonds. More than two dozen Japanese flags made it hard to see most of the faces.

He bettered Javier Fernández, a two-time world champion and training partner, by 11.52 points. Fernández also landed two quadruple jumps to tally 101.2.

Full scores will be here upon the conclusion of the short program. The free skate is Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. A live stream is here.

Hanyu now owns the three highest short program scores under the 13-year-old system. The other two were set in the 2015-16 season.

Showdowns like Hanyu-Fernández are usually reserved for, at the earliest, the Grand Prix series in late October and November.

Hanyu and Fernández are very familiar with each other, having shared a coach in Canadian Brian Orser, the 1988 Olympic silver medalist, since 2012. They train in Toronto.

In that time, Hanyu became the first Japanese man to win an Olympic title (and the second teen from any nation to do it). He followed it up with world titles later in 2014 and this year.

Fernández achieved unfathomable success for a Spanish skater — world titles in 2015 and 2016, overtaking Hanyu in the free skate both times.

In PyeongChang, Hanyu can become the first man to repeat as Olympic champion since Dick Button in 1952. Fernández can become the third Spaniard to earn a Winter Olympic medal of any color in any sport, and the first since 1992.

The figure skating season continues next week with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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MORE: What to watch every day of PyeongChang Olympics

USOC letter assures Olympians about South Korea security

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The U.S. Olympic Committee’s security chief sent a letter to potential Winter Olympians saying there are no indications that recent developments between the U.S. and North Korea have compromised security in South Korea.

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press shortly after it was sent Friday, makes no suggestion that the U.S. is considering skipping the PyeongChang Winter Games for security reasons.

But Chief Security Officer Nicole Deal does write that provocations that have been volleyed between the United States and North Korea are likely to persist for the foreseeable future, and “should not be dismissed as insignificant nor feared as precursors of an inevitable conflict.”

The letter comes at the end of a week in which France’s sports minister suggested the country’s athletes would stay home if security could not be guaranteed.

The International Olympic Committee, trying to calm concerns, reiterated that in conversations with high-level officials in China and South Korea, none have expressed doubt about the Winter Games proceeding as scheduled, next February.

The USOC also sent out a public statement Friday from CEO Scott Blackmun.

“We will continue to work with our State Department and local organizers to ensure that our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe,” he said.

The letter, sent to athletes, national governing bodies and other Olympic leaders in the United States, said the USOC’s security division is operating as “business as usual for our security planning and preparations.”

Deal writes that the USOC is reviewing crisis management plans that address a range of potential scenarios “to ensure our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe.”

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