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Lilly King ready for ‘awkward’ first encounter with Yulia Efimova at worlds

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Lilly King doesn’t know how she’ll react when she sees Yulia Efimova for the first time since the Rio Olympics next week.

King does know this: There is nothing she wants to say to her Russian rival at the world championships in Budapest.

“I’ll let my swimming do the talking,” King said in a phone interview from the U.S. swim team’s training camp in Croatia on Tuesday. “It’s obviously going to be very awkward, that first encounter, but it’s going to happen. I’m ready for it.”

King and Efimova, after King won their memorable Rio Olympic 100m breast duel, should be in close proximity throughout next week.

They’re the top two seeds in all three breaststrokes, meaning they could face off for gold in finals Tuesday (100m breast), next Friday (200m breast) and the last Sunday (50m breast). A full broadcast schedule is here.

Yes, King is aware of the world rankings.

“I’ve checked it, and I’m honestly totally fine with it,” she said. “That’s about what I expected. Nobody else can really swim with us, in my opinion. I’m excited to race her again, excited for more of our rivalry to continue.”

King feels differently than a year ago, when she made her major international meet debut in Rio. Whereas Efimova had won world titles in the 100m and 200m breaststrokes between the London and Rio Games.

“I guess I kind of have a target on my back now,” King said. “I was a nobody last summer.”

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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

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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.