Mikaela Shiffrin bumped off podium in Soelden; Lindsey Vonn struggles

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Mikaela Shiffrin opened the Olympic season with a rare costly mistake, getting bounced off her line and finishing fifth in a giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Saturday.

Lindsey Vonn was 34th and 3.31 seconds behind in the first run, where the top 30 advanced to a second run. Giant slalom is not one of her best disciplines.

German Viktoria Rebensburg, the 2010 Olympic GS champ, won by .14 of a second over France’s Tessa Worley after two runs. Italy’s Manuela Moelgg was third.

Shiffrin was .74 back in fifth, losing about one second in the first half of her second run, which included going well wide of that one gate. Shiffrin was second-fastest in the opening run, .12 behind Moelgg.

Full results are here.

“The biggest competition I have right now is with myself,” Shiffrin said, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “I feel really good with where my GS is right now. I’m disappointed because I didn’t make turns today like I know I can.”

Shiffrin, 22 and fifth in the Sochi Olympic GS, improved to become the world’s second-best GS skier last season behind Worley.

Vonn last raced giant slalom Jan. 30, 2016 and last won a GS on Dec. 12, 2015, her only finish better than fifth in a GS since January 2013.

She does hope to race GS in PyeongChang, where she should be a medal favorite in downhill and super-G.

“I just didn’t push myself enough. I was kind of too conservative where I could have let it go. But it was nice to get started,” Vonn said, according to USA Today. “I was wishing to get some points [by finishing in the top 30], but that’s life.”

Lara Gut (2016 World Cup overall champion) and Sofia Goggia (third in 2017 World Cup overall) skied out in the first run Saturday.

The start was moved down due to high winds.

Olympic champion Ted Ligety headlines the men’s field racing Soelden on Sunday. An Alpine broadcast schedule is here.

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MORE: Vonn: Women viewed as ‘second-rate’ on World Cup

Soelden Women’s Giant Slalom
1. Viktoria Rebensburg (GER) — 1:55.20
2. Tessa Worley (FRA) — +.14
3. Manuela Moelgg (ITA) — +.53
5. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) — +.74
34. Lindsey Vonn (USA)
42. Megan McJames (USA)
47. Foreste Peterson (USA)

Skylar Diggins-Smith has the opportunity to fill USA Basketball’s need

Skylar Diggins
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Skylar Diggins-Smith said making the U.S. Olympic team is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This is her second chance.

An ACL tear derailed her Rio 2016 hopes. That happened in a WNBA game on June 28, 2015.

Though Diggins-Smith was among 25 Olympic finalists named in January 2016, she didn’t return to game action until that May, four weeks after the 12-woman Olympic team was chosen.

The 27-year-old guard said she’s played for USA Basketball for 12 years, since before her standout Notre Dame career that led to her current stint with the Dallas Wings (formerly Tulsa Shock).

“This is the most clear my mind has been,” with USA Basketball, Diggins-Smith said from training camp in Seattle on Tuesday, ahead of a Thursday exhibition against China at Key Arena (10 p.m. ET, usab.com/live).

Signs point to Diggins-Smith making her major international tournament debut at September’s FIBA World Cup, the quadrennial world championship event.

Though Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi‘s surprising returns crowd the backcourt, the other Olympic gold medalist guard, Lindsay Whalen, retired from the national team.

Diggins-Smith’s play last season, her first full campaign back from the ACL tear, boosts her case. She made the All-WNBA First Team.

She also made the first team in 2014. That year, Diggins-Smith was among the final cuts for the world championship team less than a week before the tournament.

“Every time I come to USA Basketball, I think you have a tendency to kind of overthink,” Diggins-Smith said Tuesday. “You just want to do the right thing, don’t really want to make mistakes. … You want to do the right thing, and you press a little bit.”

USA Basketball has stressed finding its next stalwart point guard following five-time Olympian Teresa Edwards, three-time Olympian Dawn Staley (now the U.S. head coach) and the 37-year-old Bird, eyeing her fifth Olympics in 2020.

“Give me three guards that have separated themselves from everyone else in the WNBA to put themselves at the same level as Sue, Diana, Lindsay Whalen,” then-U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said after the Olympic team was named in April 2016. “You really start to look around and, you go, that is a huge question that has to be answered.”

“Obviously, there’s a need,” Staley said in February, listing point guards other than Bird at that camp.

The first name Staley mentioned was Diggins-Smith, for what it’s worth.

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MORE: Candace Parker finished with USA Basketball

USA Track and Field to honor 1968 Olympic team on 50th anniversary

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USA Track and Field begins a campaign this week to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Olympic team.

Members of the Mexico City Games team, one of the greatest track and field teams in history, will be honored at high-profile events the remainder of the year.

The campaign, “1968-2018: Celebrating Athletic Achievement and Courage,” culminates with a “Night of Legends” reunion in December at the USATF Annual Meeting in Columbus, Ohio, also attended by current U.S. stars.

The 1968 Olympic team is most remembered for Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who took gold and bronze in the 200m and were sent home after raising their black-gloved fists in a human rights salute during the national anthem.

The team also included gold medalists Bob Beamon (long jump), Dick Fosbury (high jump), Al Oerter (discus), Wyomia Tyus and Jim Hines (100m), Lee Evans (400m), Madeline Manning Mims (800m), Willie Davenport (110m hurdles), Bob Seagren (pole vault), Randy Matson (shot put), Bill Toomey (decathlon) and the men’s and women’s 4x100m and men’s 4x400m.

“The legacy of the greatest track & field team to ever be assembled is still felt 50 years later,” USATF CEO Max Siegel said in a press release. “These Olympians persevered through athletic challenges and social injustices, maintaining their composure and dignity when others may have fallen. It is USATF’s honor to pay homage to their achievements and bring the team together for an epic celebration at our Annual Meeting.”

U.S. track and field athletes will compete at two meets on NBC Sports and NBC Sports Gold this weekend — the Drake Relays and Penn Relays.

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WATCH: NBC Olympics documentary on 1968 Olympics