Ilka Stuhec

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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 slalom practice crash in Austria on Sunday.

“She’ll likely be out for the whole season,” her agent said in an email.

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.

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

The Olympics start in less than four months.

 

Mikaela Shiffrin set to clinch World Cup overall title

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Mikaela Shiffrin is on the verge of clinching the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in Alpine skiing. It should become official on Saturday.

Shiffrin will clinch at the World Cup Finals slalom in Aspen, Colo., if she finishes in the top 15, or if Slovenian Ilka Stuhec does not win. NBC Sports will air coverage (broadcast schedule here).

This is a near certainty, given Shiffrin has won seven of nine slaloms this season, and Stuhec has only finished one slalom in her career (placing 10th). In fact, Stuhec may skip Saturday’s slalom altogether.

Stuhec stayed in mathematical contention by finishing first and second in the first two of four World Cup Finals races this week. The Aspen series is the conclusion of a 37-race season that began in October.

Shiffrin has won 11 of those races, four more than anybody else, plus three-peated as world championships gold medalist in the slalom.

Shiffrin, who turned 22 on Monday, will become the youngest men’s or women’s overall champion since Croatian Janica Kostelic in 2003.

Previous Americans to take the overall title were Phil MahreTamara McKinneyBode Miller and Lindsey Vonn.

Shiffrin could go into the 2018 Olympics with a chance to become the first U.S. woman to win three gold medals at a single Winter Games, given she has won World Cup races in slalom, giant slalom and super combined this season.

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Ilka Stuhec beats Lindsey Vonn in World Cup Finals downhill

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Slovenian Ilka Stuhec spoiled the day for Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin by dominating the World Cup Finals downhill in Aspen, Colo., on Wednesday.

Stuhec won by a comfortable .66 over Vonn, adding the World Cup downhill season title to her world championships gold medal last month. Italian Sofia Goggia was third, 1.03 behind.

Stuhec won half of the eight World Cup downhills this season after needing 113 World Cup starts before notching her first podium in December. She was 25th in the downhill standings last season.

Vonn finished runner-up at her third straight World Cup race on Wednesday. She actually fell crossing the finish and slid into a soft barrier, but Vonn walked off smiling.

Vonn, who came back in January from crash-caused knee and arm fractures last year, raced Wednesday with a chest cold and her right glove taped to her ski pole. She has dealt with a lack of feeling in her hand resulting from breaking her right upper arm in a November training crash.

“I think it cost me a couple of tenths, but I should have been a lot faster than a couple of tenths today to beat Ilka, so probably didn’t really matter,” Vonn said on NBCSN.

She remains stuck on 77 career World Cup wins, nine shy of the record held by retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark.

Vonn, 32, has averaged about 10 wins per season when fully healthy, but six-time Olympic medalist Bode Miller says she is now facing the toughest two rivals of her career in Stuhec and Goggia.

“Lindsey hasn’t seen that type of competition in the last several years,” Miller said on the NBCSN broadcast. “She’s definitely going to have to buckle down in the offseason and get things figured out. For me, Lindsey at her best and over the course of a season is going to have several wins in the downhill and super-G. She just is that strong.”

Stuhec’s win also kept Shiffrin from clinching her first World Cup overall title. Shiffrin, who didn’t race Wednesday, will clinch Thursday if Stuhec finishes third or lower in the super-G.

If not, Shiffrin will clinch Saturday or Sunday if she finishes in the top 12 of the slalom or giant slalom, or gets help from Stuhec, who is not strong in those disciplines.

Full Results | Broadcast Replay

Earlier, Italian Peter Fill repeated as men’s downhill season champion despite not winning any of the eight races this season.

Fill placed second, .08 behind countryman Dominik Paris, in the race on Wednesday. That was enough to make up a 33-point standings deficit on Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud, who finished 11th in Aspen. Full results are here.

The World Cup Finals continue with men’s and women’s super-Gs on Thursday, expected to be Vonn’s last race of the season. NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app will air coverage from 12-2 p.m. ET.

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MORE: Bode Miller says ‘a lot of pieces’ necessary for possible comeback