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Elisabeth Goergl, world champion Alpine skier, retires with age record

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VIENNA (AP) — Austrian skier Elisabeth Goergl retired Monday, 2½ years after becoming the oldest woman to win a World Cup race.

A two-time world champion and two-time Olympic bronze medalist, the 36-year-old Goergl said she lacked motivation to prepare for the Olympic season.

“Many fans have asked me to continue for another year but I want to develop in another direction,” she said. “If I had still felt a spark, I would not have retired now.”

Goergl has started an education to become a ski coach, and she has just released a CD with her own songs.

Her career highlight came in 2011, when the Austrian upset favorites Lindsey Vonn and Maria Hoefl-Riesch twice to win the downhill and super-G gold medals at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

“That was my biggest and nicest achievement, for sure,” said Goergl, who had performed the song “You’re a Hero” live on stage during the opening ceremony of the worlds.

“To win the super-G the following day was very special. And winning the downhill was the icing on the cake. Double world champion sounded great.”

During 17 seasons, Goergl won five medals at major championships and competed in 378 World Cup races, winning seven of them. She was 33 years, 301 days when she last won a race, a super-G in Val d’Isere, France, in December 2014.

Goergl is also the oldest winner of a downhill. She was 32 years, 11 months when she triumphed in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee in January 2014. However, she will lose that record to Vonn if the American wins a downhill next season.

Her announcement Monday was no surprise. In January, after failing to make the Austrian team for the world championships in St. Moritz, she said she would consider retirement, even with an Olympic season coming up.

“I have taken a lot of time to think about it,” said Goergl, who won the overall title of the lower-tier Europa Cup in 2003. “Since I was 10, I have been chasing my goal to become a ski racer with huge passion. I never gave up and I always found new motivation.”

Goergl stems from a ski-mad family. Her mother, Traudi Hecher, won Olympic downhill bronze in 1960 and ’64. And her older brother, Stephan Goergl, competed on the men’s World Cup from 2001-12.

“The Goergl family has contributed massively to the ski sports in Austria,” said Hans Pum, sports director of the Austrian ski federation.

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World downhill champion Ilka Stuhec tears ACL

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Lindsey Vonn’s top rival for downhill gold is in danger of missing the upcoming Olympics.

Ilka Stuhec, a world champion Alpine skier from Slovenia, suffered a torn ACL after a practice crash in Austria this weekend.

Stuhec had become a strong medal favorite for PyeongChang after winning FIS World Cup titles in downhill and Alpine combined last season. She also won a gold medal in downhill at the 2017 World Championships, where Vonn placed third.

According to a post on the FIS website, surgery is set for this Wednesday, with more information to come after that. But preliminary reports suggest that she is likely to miss the Olympics.

“For now it looks like Ilka Stuhec will have to miss a large part or maybe the whole World Cup season, including the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea,” a spokesperson for Struhec told Reuters.

In a tweet, Struhec acknowledged that she would be sidelined “for a few months.”

The Olympics start in less than four months.

 

U.S. Ski & Snowboard mourns after 17-year-old aerials skier found dead

U.S. Ski & Snowboard
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Mikey Lillis, a 17-year-old aerials skier, died in his sleep at his home in East Rochester, N.Y., overnight Saturday, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

“We are a family, and as a family our entire team grieves for Mikey, his own family and his teammates,” U.S. Ski & Snowboard President and CEO Tiger Shaw said in a statement. “We’ll remember him for the pathway he was following and the goals he was beginning to achieve. Our condolences go out to his parents Bernie and Jamie and the entire Lillis family.”

Lillis was working his way to join his two older brothers at the elite international level. He made three podiums on the Nor-Am Cup tour between the last two seasons.

Jon Lillis, 23, is the reigning world champion in aerials. Chris Lillis, 19, won the FIS Rookie of the Year award last season with four top-10 finishes on the World Cup.