Aksel Lund Svindal

Aksel Lund Svindal wins Beaver Creek downhill

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Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal won his second straight World Cup race, taking a downhill in Beaver Creek, Colo., while no Americans finished in the top 10 on Friday.

Svindal, the reigning world and World Cup downhill champion, clocked 1 minute, 44.50 seconds, in sub-zero temperatures in the first of three races this weekend. Austria’s Hannes Reichelt was second in 1:44.67, and Italian Peter Fill was third (full results at bottom).

“I knew I had to be aggressive,” Svindal said, according to the Denver Post. “I felt like it was a pretty good run when I came down, but I wasn’t sure at all. It was nice to see the green lights.”

The Beaver Creek World Cup stop continues with a super-G on Saturday (1 p.m. ET) and a giant slalom on Sunday (11:45 a.m., 2:45 p.m.). NBC and NBCSN will provide weekend coverage.

Svindal solidified his Olympic favorite status after finishing a surprisingly low fourth in the first World Cup season downhill in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Saturday. He came back to win the super-G on Sunday and leads the World Cup overall standings.

Five-time Olympic medalist Bode Miller was the top American in 13th, his best finish in four races this season.

“I thought I skied pretty well,” Miller said, according to the newspaper. “Even though it was not a great result, I’m happy with it. I skied the way I needed to ski. Maybe we picked the wrong skis, maybe it was weather or nature, but I think that’s where we lost it today.”

Miller, 36, missed all of last season following knee surgery. His previous finishes this year were 19th, 16th and 23rd.

In 2009-10, Miller’s first four World Cup finishes were DNF, 29th, 39th and DNF, but he started rattling off top 10s beginning with a fourth in the Beaver Creek downhill. Miller went on to win an Olympic gold, silver and bronze in 2010.

Ted Ligety, who won three World Championships gold medals in February, finished 42nd. The downhill is Ligety’s worst event, and he said before the season he doesn’t expect to race it at the Olympics.

Beaver Creek Downhill
1. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) 1:44.50
2. Hannes Reichelt (AUT) 1:44.67
3. Peter Fill (ITA) 1:44.70
4. Manny Osborne-Paradis (CAN) 1:44.74
5. Patrick Kueng (SUI) 1:45.02
6. Beat Feuz (SUI) 1:45.16
7. Jan Hudec (CAN) 1:45.17
8. Werner Heel (ITA) 1:45.35
9. Dominik Paris (ITA) 1:45.37
10. Max Franz (AUT) 1:45.38
13. Bode Miller (USA) 1:45.54
15. Travis Ganong (USA) 1:45.69
21. Steven Nyman (USA) 1:46.26
28. Marco Sullivan (USA) 1:46.71
29. Erik Fisher (USA) 1:46.72
42. Ted Ligety (USA) 1:47.72
55. Jared Goldberg (USA) 1:48.72
DNF. Andrew Weibrecht (USA)

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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.

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