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Mikaela Shiffrin leads postponed World Cup race

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ST. MORITZ, Switzerland (AP) — A World Cup super combined was canceled because of thick fog Friday, soon after Mikaela Shiffrin was fastest in the opening slalom run.

The poor conditions wiped away Shiffrin’s chances of adding to her World Cup overall standings lead. Organizers first pushed back the super-G start time and then decided to scrap it.

Later, Shiffrin lost a second chance to win the event. Race organizers declined an option to let Saturday’s scheduled super-G double up as the second run of the combined.

Lindsey Vonn wasn’t surprised that racing was stopped.

“I don’t foresee the super-G being able to happen, it’s so foggy,” Vonn said after placing 25th in slalom, 3.33 seconds behind her countrywoman. “You can’t even free ski down the hill.”

Organizers tried to defy the gloomy forecast by flipping the race order. Fog and strong winds higher up the hill made the super-G course too dangerous in the morning.

Shiffrin did not have the cleanest slalom run, but she finished .39 of a second ahead of Swiss rival Wendy Holdener. In February, Holdener won the combined and took silver behind Shiffrin the slalom at the world championships in St. Moritz.

On Friday, Shiffrin trailed after almost losing her balance though the first steep section after a start on flat terrain, then gained time lower down.

In third place, world silver medalist Michelle Gisin of Switzerland was 1.21 seconds back.

Still, Shiffrin can still look with confidence to super-G races scheduled Saturday and Sunday having placed fifth in the speed discipline last Sunday in Lake Louise, Alberta.

For the first time since March 2015, four-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso started a World Cup race. She finished almost eight seconds behind Shiffrin.

“It was fun to be back in the start and I made it to the finish,” said Mancuso, who returned from hip surgery. “Today was not the result of my injury, it was the result of lack of training.”

Mancuso is targeting the Olympic super-G, but it will not be easy to make the U.S. roster of four racers in the event.

The weather denied her a chance to race super-G on Friday.

“I felt like when I got up this morning and they changed the order, that I was being punked,” joked Mancuso, who hopes to start in the two World Cup super-G races this weekend.

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Lindsey Vonn wins 79th World Cup race as oldest downhill victor (video)

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Lindsey Vonn became the oldest woman to win a World Cup downhill with three weeks until the Olympics, notching her 79th career victory in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, on Saturday.

In PyeongChang, she can become the oldest female Alpine medalist in Olympic history.

Vonn prevailed by .92 of a second over Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather on Saturday, moving seven shy of Ingemar Stenmark‘s record of 86 World Cup victories.

“My focus right now is just so much on Olympics that I haven’t really thought about [the record] that much this season,” Vonn said. “After the Olympics, that will be my No. 1 priority again, and I’ll try to just rack up as many wins before I retire as possible.”

American Jackie Wiles was third to become the fifth U.S. female Alpine skier to qualify for PyeongChang, joining Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin, among others. (full U.S. Olympic roster here)

Shiffrin was seventh in Saturday’s race in her least comfortable discipline.

Full results are here.

Vonn, 33, broke Austrian Elisabeth Goergl‘s record as the oldest woman to win a World Cup downhill. Goergl is still the oldest winner for any World Cup race, taking a super-G in 2014 at nearly 34 years old.

Vonn, already an Olympic medal favorite in downhill and super-G, won her first downhill since Jan. 21, 2017.

She had raced eight downhills in between with four podium finishes, including taking second to Italian Sofia Goggia on Friday in Cortina. Goggia failed to finish Saturday.

The World Cup continues with a super-G in Cortina on Sunday (5:30 a.m. ET, Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

“Mentally, I feel like it’s the first podium I ever got,” Vonn said. “Back in 2004, I feel the same. I have the same motivation, the same drive, the same excitement. I love going fast. That’s never changed. The only thing that’s changed is my body is not as good as it once was, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t still win.

“I’ll keep going until my poor little knee gives out.”

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IOC approves unified Korea Olympic team, 22 North Korean athletes

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North and South Korean athletes will compete on the same team at the Olympics for the first time, while the IOC approved 22 North Koreans to compete overall in PyeongChang.

The IOC on Saturday approved the Koreas’ agreement to field a unified women’s hockey team and to march together in the Opening Ceremony behind the Korean Unification flag.

Twelve North Koreans have been added to the South Korean women’s hockey team. The other North Korean athletes will compete in figure skating, Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and short track speed skating.

Full details are here.

“Today marks a milestone on a long journey,” IOC president Thomas Bach said. “Since 2014, the IOC has addressed the special situation of having the Olympic Winter Games 2018 on the Korean Peninsula. Until today, we met separately with the parties on a bilateral basis to address an often fast-changing political situation in a comprehensive way. Today is therefore a great day because the Olympic Spirit has brought all sides together. This was not an easy journey.”

At the Opening Ceremony on Feb. 9, one North Korean and one South Korean will carry the flag in the Parade of Nations. The Koreas previously marched together at the Opening Ceremonies in 2000, 2004 and 2006.

The hockey team will compete as “Korea,” under the unification flag and using the song “Arirang” as its anthem. North Koreans will compete under their own flag in all other sports.

North Korea did not qualify any spots for the Olympics, but the IOC had power to offer special invitations.

“Such an agreement would have seemed impossible only a few weeks ago,” Bach said. “The Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 are hopefully opening the door to a brighter future on the Korean peninsula.”

The 22 North Korean athletes mark more North Koreans at a Winter Olympics than the last six Winter Games combined.

North Korea had zero athletes in 2014 and two in 2010.

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