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Alpine skiing considers cutting discipline from World Cup

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The super combined might no longer be on the World Cup Alpine skiing schedule come the 2020-21 season.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) confirmed Monday that it discussed a draft schedule for the 2020-21 World Cup season with zero super combined races.

Instead, there would be more parallel races, the head-to-head discipline that is also used in a team format at the world championships and, beginning in 2018, the Olympics.

No final decision was made on the 2020-21 World Cup schedule, and it will be discussed again in October.

The Olympics and world championships also currently include the combined event. FIS didn’t say if removing it from the World Cup could lead to its removal from the Olympics or world championships, though Austrian media reported it would be taken off the worlds schedule after 2019.

The combined is made up of one downhill or super-G run and one slalom run to determine the skiers who best balance technical ability and speed.

The combined has featured some less-heralded winners in recent years. The days of many star skiers contending in all five disciplines (downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom and combined) are gone as specialists reign.

This past season, the men’s world super combined champion, Swiss Luca Aerni, had zero World Cup podiums to his name. The 2014 Olympic men’s super combined winner, Swiss Sandro Viletta, made one World Cup podium in his career.

The combined was actually the first Olympic Alpine skiing event, the only Alpine race at the 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen Winter Games. It was taken off the Olympic program after two editions, however, and didn’t return until Calgary 1988.

The combined switched from one downhill and two slalom runs to one downhill and one slalom run for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.

The super combined has been the best event for U.S. skiers among the last four Olympics — Bode Miller‘s silver in 2002, Ted Ligety‘s gold in 2006, Miller’s gold and Julia Mancuso‘s silver in 2010 and Mancuso’s bronze in 2014.

Mikaela Shiffrin is one of the medal contenders for the 2018 Olympic combined, given she is the world’s best slalom skier and has made gains in speed races in recent seasons. She won the last combined event on the World Cup this past season.

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Katie Ledecky entered in 5 events at USA Swimming Nationals

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Katie Ledecky is signed up for five races at the USA Swimming National Championships (Summer Champions Series) next week.

The four-time Rio Olympic champion is entered in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles in Indianapolis. Full entry lists are here.

The top two per individual event qualify for the world championships in Budapest in July, plus extra swimmers in the 100m and 200m frees for relays.

Ledecky is slated to race four of five days in Indy, starting with a Tuesday double of the 100m and 800m frees. A full broadcast schedule is here.

At last year’s Olympic Trials, Ledecky raced the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m frees, when there was no 1500m free on the Olympic program.

The women’s 1500m free will debut at Tokyo 2020, but it has been on the world championships program since 2001.

At this same meet in the last Olympic cycle in 2013, Ledecky contested the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees, winning the three latter races and finishing second to Missy Franklin in the 200m free. Franklin will miss nationals next week as she continues to return from January shoulder surgeries.

Ledecky goes into this year’s nationals ranked No. 1 in the world in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees and No. 5 in the U.S. in the 100m free.

Ledecky showed marked improvement in the 100m free in the last four years. In Rio, she had the second-fastest split on the American 4x100m free relay team that took silver.

Ledecky is ranked No. 1 in the U.S. this year in the 400m individual medley but chose not to race it this summer.

Other headliners for nationals:

  • Ryan Murphy, Olympic 100m and 200m backstroke champion, is entered in all three backstrokes (50m, 100m and 200m) and the 100m freestyle, where he has an outside chance of earning a 4x100m relay berth.
  • Chase Kalisz, Olympic 400m IM silver medalist, is the top seed in the 200m IM and 400m IM and the No. 2 seed in the 200m butterfly.
  • Simone Manuel, four-time Rio medalist, is the top seed in the 50m and 100m frees and the No. 5 seed in the 200m free.
  • Lilly King, Olympic 100m breaststroke champion, is favored to make the team in the 50m, 100m and 200m breasts. She is also entered in the 200m IM.
  • The men’s 50m free is loaded with Olympic champions Anthony ErvinNathan AdrianCullen Jones and Caeleb Dressel as the top four seeds.

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Ex-USA Gymnastics doctor to stand trial on sex assault charges

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MASON, Mich. (AP) — A judge on Friday ordered a longtime doctor at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics to stand trial on charges of sexually assaulting six young gymnasts who said he molested them while they were seeking treatment for various injuries.

Judge Donald Allen Jr. made his decision after hearing testimony from the gymnasts over two days and watching a police interview of the doctor, Larry Nassar.

“He convinced these girls that this was some type of legitimate treatment,” Assistant Attorney General Angela Poviliatis told Allen during the hearing. “Why would they question him? Why would they question this gymnastics god?”

The gymnasts consistently said that Nassar penetrated them with his ungloved hands, sometimes while their parents were in the room, at his Michigan State clinic, his home and at a Lansing-area gymnastics club. Some allegations go back to 2000.

Nassar was a doctor at Michigan State and at USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians, until last year.

Prosecutors played a video of a 40-minute interview between campus police and Nassar last summer. He said he doesn’t get sexual pleasure from treating gymnasts. But he also said that if he had an erection, as a gymnast claimed, “that’s rather embarrassing.”

Nassar also is facing three more criminal cases, including one in federal court alleging he possessed child pornography. He’s pleaded not guilty. Separately, he’s being sued by dozens of women and girls.

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