Lindsey Vonn crashes in final race of season (video)

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An exhausted Lindsey Vonn crashed in her final race of the season but escaped without major injury, gliding to the finish at the World Cup Finals in Aspen, Colo., on Thursday.

Early in her super-G run, Vonn had to stand up to make a gate. She ended up hitting the gate, losing her balance, falling on her back and sliding into safety netting. Vonn got up on her own without much delay.

“Just didn’t quite have enough direction,” Vonn, who came to the World Cup Finals with a chest cold, said on NBCSN. “I’m also really tired from being sick, and I just didn’t have the strength to pull that off. So I’m happy that nothing [worse] happened. Man, I tell you, I’m really exhausted. My body has taken a beating this year. I’m ready to reset, regroup and be ready for the Olympics next season.”

The last 13 months have been some of Vonn’s gnarliest, which is saying something. She suffered three knee fractures in a race crash on Feb. 27, 2016. Before returning to racing this season, she broke her right upper arm in a Nov. 10 training crash. Vonn called the latter the most painful injury of her career.

Still, Vonn returned to competition, on limited training and still with pain, on Jan. 15. She won her 77th World Cup race six days later, moving to within nine victories of the career record held by retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark.

Vonn went winless in her last 11 starts this season, but she picked up a world championships downhill bronze to become the oldest female medalist of all time at age 32.

She also tallied three straight World Cup runner-up finishes, skiing this winter with her right ski pole taped to her glove. She still lacked feeling in the hand from the Nov. 10 crash.

Vonn goes into next season with one primary, tangible goal — to grab an Olympic medal in PyeongChang after missing the Sochi Winter Games (also due to crashes).

“My goal is just to be healthy,” Vonn said Thursday. “Sometimes I’m really impatient. I try to bite off more than I can chew.”

Vonn will also hope to close in on Stenmark’s record. She has averaged about 10 wins per season when healthy, but given the injuries, her age and emerging rivals in Slovenian Ilka Stuhec and Italian Sofia Goggia, catching Stenmark has become a taller task since last February.

Vonn has said she plans to race in the 2018-19 season and repeated that intention on Thursday.

“I’m going to give myself a little bit more time to get that World Cup win record,” she said.

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Olympic ski cross champion suffers serious knee injury

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Canadian Marielle Thompson, the reigning Olympic and World Cup ski cross champion, ruptured an ACL and MCL in a training crash in Switzerland.

Alpine Canada did not say when the accident happened or what Thompson’s chances are of returning to defend her Olympic title in PyeongChang.

Thompson flew from Switzerland to Vancouver for an MRI that confirmed the injury.

“I’ll be making a plan with my team moving forward and when the time is right getting back on the ski cross course stronger than ever,” Thompson said in a press release.

Thompson, 25, tore a meniscus in January 2015 and returned to competition 11 months later. She won seven of the 13 World Cup races last season.

Other Olympic medal contenders include Swede Sandra Näslund and Swiss Fanny Smith.

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Nathan Chen leads Yuzuru Hanyu at Grand Prix opener (video)

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U.S. champion Nathan Chen hopes to become comfortable in this spot this season — ahead of reigning Olympic and world champion Yuzuru Hanyu in the standings.

The 18-year-old Chen landed two quadruple jumps in his short program at the opening Grand Prix event in Moscow, taking a 5.69-point lead over Hanyu going into Saturday’s free skate.

Two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva of Russia topped the women’s short program with 80.75 points (one tenth off her world record).

Full Rostelecom Cup results are here.

Chen’s tally — 100.54 points — is the second-highest short of his flourishing international career. It would have been higher if not for two of his three jumping passes receiving negative grades of execution for wonky landings.

The Japanese megastar Hanyu fell on his final jump, a triple toe loop, on Friday. No matter, Winnie the Pooh bears rained down on the ice from the adoring crowd, many of whom traveled from Japan.

Hanyu scored 94.85 points, one month after breaking his world record short program score with 112.72 points in a small event in Canada.

“Today I made some mistakes in my short program, but overall it didn’t feel bad,” Hanyu said, according to the International Skating Union.

Hanyu, though he is the current PyeongChang favorite, has never won his season-opening Grand Prix event in seven tries.

Chen has now outscored Hanyu, who is four years older, in four of their last eight head-to-head skates.

Hanyu was better in the two biggest programs at last season’s world championships. Chen placed sixth at worlds in April, perhaps gassed at the end of his first senior season while competing on duct-taped skates.

In the women’s standings, Medvedeva topped Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner of Italy by 6.13 points.

American Mirai Nagasu landed a triple Axel that was called under rotated and fell on her other two jumping passes. She ended up ninth, two spots behind U.S. bronze medalist Mariah Bell.

In the short dance, two-time world medalists and U.S. champions Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani tallied 77.30 points.

The siblings lead by .97 over Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev going into the free dance.

Russians are one-two in pairs. World bronze medalists Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov lead Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov by 5.49.

All of the free skates are Saturday, live on Olympic Channel. A full schedule is here.

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Rostelecom Cup
Men’s Short
1. Nathan Chen (USA) — 100.54
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 94.85
3. Dmitriy Aliyev (RUS) — 88.77
11. Grant Hochstein (USA) — 67.56

Women’s Short
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 80.75
2. Carolina Kostner (ITA) — 74.64
3. Wakaba Higuchi (JPN) — 69.60
7. Mariah Bell (USA) — 63.85
9. Mirai Nagasu (USA) — 56.15

Short Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 77.30
2. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 76.33
3. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) — 71.32
7. Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (USA) — 59.41

Pairs Short
1. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 76.88
2. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) — 71.39
3. Valentina Marchei/Ondřej Hotárek (ITA) — 68.48
7. Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran (USA) — 54.37