Switzerland

Iouri Podladtchikov tears ACL at world championships

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Swiss snowboarder Iouri Podladtchikov tore an ACL at the world championships on Saturday, less than 11 months ahead of his Olympic title defense in PyeongChang.

Podladtchikov, known as I-Pod, suffered the injury falling hard on his knee and head in his last of three runs in the final in Sierra Nevada, Spain. Podladtchikov ended up with silver behind Australian Scotty James at an event skipped by Shaun White.

“I gave it everything I could in this competition, and that was the right attitude. There is always a risk to get injured, being a sportsman you have to accept this,” Podladtchikov said, according to the International Ski Federation (FIS). “There is a reason for this injury as there is one for everything. I will subordinating everything to my preparation for the next Olympics. I’m already grateful for all the empathy and nice words, and I’m looking forward to be back together with my team.”

Podladtchikov, 28, required ankle surgery in November 2014 but was able to return for that season’s X Games and world championships.

Podladtchikov has not won a major contest since his Olympic title in Sochi. He was third, 12th and 10th at the last three X Games and fourth at the 2015 World Championships.

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Switzerland Olympic officials choose city for 2026 Winter Games bid

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The Switzerland Olympic Committee says it wants to bid for the 2026 Olympics with the city of Sion.

Sion could become the first official 2026 Winter Olympic bid city, should its candidacy be confirmed by Swiss sports officials on April 11.

Switzerland has hosted the Olympics twice, both Winter Games in St. Moritz (1928 and 1948).

Sion previously was a finalist to host the 1976, 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympics, finishing runner-up in voting every time.

Switzerland first announced it was pursuing a bid last March. A possible bid from St. Moritz and Davos was rejected by voters last month.

Cities in Austria, Canada, Japan and Sweden have also discussed potential 2026 bids.

The next two Winter Olympics will be in East Asia in PyeongChang, South Korea, in 2018 and Beijing in 2022, giving a European or North American city a greater opening to be the 2026 host.

The 2026 Olympic host city is expected to be chosen from an International Olympic Committee members vote in 2019.

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Luca Aerni’s surprise combined gold gives Swiss its best worlds in 26 years

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Swiss Luca Aerni didn’t know if he’d be racing the world championships super combined until Sunday night. He ended up winning gold, beating the world’s best skier by .01 on Monday.

Aerni became the third host-nation gold medalist in six races so far at worlds, edging World Cup overall champion Marcel Hirscher of Austria after downhill and slalom runs in St. Moritz. The unheralded Aerni was the last of four Swiss named to the super combined roster Sunday night.

Another Swiss, Mauro Caviezel, earned bronze, .06 behind, after missing all of the 2015-16 season due to injuries.

There are still five races left at worlds, but the Swiss already have their best medal haul in 26 years, since the tail end of their dominant era of the likes of Vreni Schneider and Pirmin Zurbriggen.

The top American was Bryce Bennett in 11th. The U.S. men haven’t had a top-10 in three worlds races so far.

FULL RESULTS | RACE REPLAY

Aerni, 23, was a complete surprise, the first Olympic or world champion without a World Cup podium to his name since 2007. He repeated the feat of Hirscher of two years ago, placing 30th in the morning downhill run and running first in the afternoon slalom en route to gold.

“I was really nervous the last 45 minutes waiting for everyone to finish,” said Aerni, who was 2.61 seconds behind after the downhill but 1.6 seconds faster than everyone in the slalom except Hirscher, who was .32 slower. “I could only watch and hope as the others came down. I knew my slalom run was good, but with the combined you never know what will happen. It was definitely a long wait until I realized I had the gold medal.”

Aerni’s best World Cup finish is fifth. He previously raced once at the Olympics and once at worlds, failing to finish each run.

Hirscher said he raced Monday after spending the previous two days sick in bed, according to SkiRacing.com.

“It is pretty impressive to myself that I am on the podium in this super combined,” he said, according to the report. “It was a little bit nerve-wracking if you see crossing the finish line one hundredth of a second behind.”

Like Aerni, Caviezel came in with a best World Cup finish of fifth and no prior Olympic or worlds medals.

The top three finishers overall also had the top three slalom times.

Pre-race favorite Alexis Pinturault of France was in decent position after the morning downhill, 1.46 seconds behind Austrian leader Romed Baumann, but uncharacteristically struggled in the slalom and wound up 10th. Pinturault remains the winningest men’s World Cup racer (19 victories) without an Olympic or world title. Baumann ended up 12th.

Earlier at worlds, Wendy Holdener won the women’s combined and Beat Feuz took the men’s downhill for Switzerland. The Swiss earned one world title total among the 2011, 2013 and 2015 Worlds.

The World Championships continue with the team event, a new Olympic event, on Tuesday at 6 a.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

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