Lindsey Vonn

Lindsey Vonn makes decision on whether to race World Cup opener

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Lindsey Vonn will not race at the season-opening World Cup stop in Soelden, Austria, on Saturday.

“While I physically feel great, I have decided to not race this weekend and instead will focus on returning in Beaver Creek,” she said Wednesday, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “I am confident the extra month of training will ultimately put me in the best position to have a successful season.”

She had been training in Austria for the last week.

Vonn, 29, will now seek to return for the first speed races of the season in Beaver Creek, Colo., beginning Nov. 29. She blew out her right knee in a crash at the World Championships in Schladming, Austria, in February.

Beaver Creek was the original planned return date until her rehab went so well that, after returning to skiing on snow in September, she considered moving her comeback up a month for Saturday’s giant slalom.

The Soelden favorite should be reigning overall World Cup champion Tina Maze of Slovenia, who took the crown of world’s greatest all-around skier with a record-breaking campaign last year.

The U.S. starters for Soelden are scheduled to be Julia MancusoMikaela Shiffrin and Megan McJames on Saturday and Ted LigetyBode Miller, Tim JitloffTommy BiesemeyerRobby Kelley and Kieffer Christianson on Sunday.

Ligety is the reigning World Cup giant slalom champion and World Champion in the event. Miller missed all of last season, recovering from left knee surgery.

“My physical preparation is probably the best it’s been in a long time,” Miller said. “In taking a year away from the World Cup, I’ve been able to let my knee heal completely. I’m ready to return to the World Cup on a hill where I had one of the first wins of my career.”

Universal Sports will have online and TV coverage of the Soelden races this weekend.

Video: Vonn films first crash since return to skiing

Sam Girard, Olympic short track champion, surprisingly retires at age 22

Sam Girard
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Sam Girard, who avoided a three-skater pileup to win the PyeongChang Olympic 1000m, retired from short track speed skating at age 22, saying he lost the desire to compete.

“I leave my sport satisfied with what I have accomplished,” Girard said in a press release. “This decision was very well thought through. I am at peace with the choice that I’ve made and am ready to move onto the next step.”

Girard and girlfriend and fellow Olympic skater Kasandra Bradette announced their careers end together in a tearful French-language press conference in Quebec on Friday.

Girard detailed the decision in a letter, the sacrifices made to pursue skating. Notably, moving from his hometown of Ferland-et-Boilleau, population 600, to Montreal in 2012. His hobbies had been of the outdoor variety, but he now had to drive an hour and a half from the training center just to go fishing.

In PyeongChang, Girard led for most of the 1000m final, which meant he avoided chaos behind him on the penultimate lap of the nine-lap race. Hungarian Liu Shaolin Sandor‘s inside pass took out South Koreans Lim Hyo-Jun and Seo Yi-Ra, leaving just Girard and American John-Henry Krueger.

Girard maintained his lead, crossing .214 in front of Krueger to claim the title. He also finished fourth in the 500m and 1500m and earned bronze in the relay.

“My first Olympics, won a gold medal, can’t ask for more,” he said afterward.

Though Girard was already accomplished — earning individual silver medals at the 2016 and 2017 Worlds — he came to PyeongChang as the heir apparent to Charles Hamelin, a roommate on the World Cup circuit whom Girard likened to a big brother. Girard earned another world silver medal this past season.

Hamelin, after taking individual gold in 2010 and 2014, left PyeongChang without an individual medal in what many expected to be his last Olympics. However, he went back on a retirement vow and continued to skate through the 2018-19 season.

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MORE: J.R. Celski explains decision to retire

Maia, Alex Shibutani extend break from ice dance competition

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Brother-sister ice dance duo Maia and Alex Shibutani will not compete next season, the Olympic bronze medalists announced via U.S. Figure Skating on Friday.

“We’re healthier and stronger than we were after the Olympics, and we’re continuing to push ourselves,” Maia Shibutani said in a press release.

“We’ve continued to skate a lot, and we feel like we’ve benefited from some time away to create in different environments and focus on experiences that can help us grow,” Alex said.

The “Shib Sibs” won the U.S. title in 2016 and 2017. They won their first world medal in 2011 (bronze) before reaching the world podium again in 2016 and 2017 with silver and bronze, respectively.

They most recently competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where they earned bronze both individually and in the team event.

Maia and Alex Shibutani are now the second ice dance medalists from PyeongChang to announce they’ll sit out at least part of next season. Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada will tour instead this fall and are not expected to return to competition.

The siblings haven’t stayed away from the ice entirely in their break from the sport, though — they’ve also been touring and performing in shows.

The Shibutanis became the second set of siblings to earn Olympic ice dance medals after France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay in 1992.

MORE: How Gracie Gold landed in Philadelphia, thoughts competitive return

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