Lindsey Vonn stronger in second comeback race (video)

Lindsey Vonn
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Lindsey Vonn made major strides in less than 24 hours between her first two races since major knee surgery.

The Olympic downhill champion finished 11th in a downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, on Saturday afternoon.

On Friday, Vonn was 40th in another Lake Louise downhill, her first race since blowing out her right knee at the World Championships in February.

On Nov. 19, she partially tore the ACL in the same knee in a training crash.

On Saturday, German Maria Hoefl-Riesch won in 1 minute, 55.09 seconds. Hoefl-Riesch also won Friday’s downhill. Vonn was 3.19 seconds behind Hoefl-Riesch on Friday and 1.26 seconds behind her Saturday.

Vonn pumped her fist after finishing.

“That was much better. A lot more like it,” Vonn said, according to The Associated Press, in below-zero temperatures. “I’m just really happy with the improvements that I made from yesterday. And just in general, my whole body language was different. I was more aggressive and just more confident and comfortable.”

Vonn decided to race this weekend following a training run Wednesday. She said her right knee felt “stable,” though she skipped an opportunity at taking another training run Thursday. She said she would race with a knee brace.

“[Friday], it felt rusty,” Vonn said. “Just hadn’t done it in so long. I was too nervous.

“And today, it was much more like myself. I still made mistakes and it wasn’t my best skiing, but it’s a long way from where I was yesterday. Hopefully I can continue to improve.”

She’s skiing at a course nicknamed “Lake Lindsey” for her overwhelming success there. She had won the last seven World Cup races at Lake Louise before this weekend. She didn’t finish lower than second at a Lake Louise race from 2009 through 2012.

“At least you can ski,” Hoefl-Riesch, the 2011 World Cup overall champion, told Vonn after Saturday’s race, according to the AP. “Maybe it gets better.”

Vonn is expected to race in a super-G on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET in Lake Louise. Universal Sports will have coverage.

“Just need to continue improving and continue taking steps every day. It doesn’t take me long. I’m a fast learner,” Vonn said, according to the AP. “I need a couple of tries to kind of get the butterflies out and get the nerves to calm down. Now I feel like I’m in a really good place.”

Overall, the U.S. women’s speed team improved over its dismal early-season results.

Stacey Cook, who was fourth in last season’s World Cup downhill standings, was right behind Vonn in 12th. That’s Cook’s best finish this season.

Leanne Smith was 17th after taking 49th on Friday. Julia Mancuso improved five spots from 26th to 21st.

Lake Louise Downhill
1. Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) 1:55.09
2. Tina Weirather (LIE) 1:55.43
3. Anna Fenninger (AUT) 1:55.56
4. Maria Kaufmann-Abderhalden (SUI) 1:55.92
5. Elena Fanchini (ITA) 1:55.93
6. Tina Maze (SLO) 1:56.00
7. Comelia Huetter (AUT) 1:56.08
8. Kajsa Kling (SWE) 1:56.09
9. Dominique Gisin (SUI) 1:56.13
10. Elisabeth Goergl (AUT) 1:56.17
11. Lindsey Vonn (USA) 1:56.35
12. Stacey Cook (USA) 1:56.47
17. Leanne Smith (USA) 1:56.77
21. Julia Mancuso (USA) 1:56.86
31. Jacqueline Wiles (USA) 1:57.47
46. Julia Ford (USA) 1:58.43
50. Laurenne Ross (USA) 1:59.12

Ligety fifth in Beaver Creek super-G

Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Olympic 400m champion, announces pregnancy

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Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the two-time reigning Olympic 400m champion, announced she is pregnant with her first child.

“New Year, New Blessing,” she posted on social media with husband Maicel Uibo, the 2019 World Championships silver medalist in the decathlon for Estonia. “We can’t wait to meet our little bundle of joy.”

Miller-Uibo’s agency said she plans to return to sprinting, but they don’t yet have a timeline of her plans.

Miller-Uibo, 28, followed her repeat Olympic title in Tokyo by winning her first world indoor and outdoor titles last year.

Also last year, Miller-Uibo said she planned to drop the 400m and focus on the 200m going into the 2024 Paris Games rather than possibly bid to become the first woman to win the same individual Olympic running event three times.

She has plenty of experience in the 200m, making her world championships debut in that event in 2013 and placing fourth. She earned 200m bronze at the 2017 Worlds, was the world’s fastest woman in the event in 2019 and petitioned for a Tokyo Olympic schedule change to make a 200m-400m double easier. The petition was unsuccessful.

She did both races anyway, finishing last in the 200m final, 1.7 seconds behind the penultimate finisher on the same day of the 400m first round.

She did not race the 200m at last July’s worlds, where the 200m and 400m overlapped.

Notable moms to win individual Olympic sprint titles include American Wilma Rudolph, who swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 1960 Rome Olympics two years after having daughter Yolanda.

And Dutchwoman Fanny Blankers-Koen, who won four gold medals at the 1948 London Olympics, when the mother of two also held world records in the high jump and long jump, two events in which she didn’t compete at those Games.

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Mikaela Shiffrin, three gates from gold, skis out of world championships combined

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Mikaela Shiffrin was three gates from a record-tying seventh world championships gold medal when she lost her balance and straddled a gate, skiing out of the first race of worlds on Monday.

Italian Federica Brignone won the women’s combined instead, prevailing by 1.62 seconds over Swiss Wendy Holdener, the largest Olympic or world championships men’s or women’s margin of victory in the event since it switched from three runs to two in 2007.

Austrian Ricarda Haaser took bronze in an event that is one run of super-G followed by one run of slalom.

At 32, Brignone, the 2020 World Cup overall champion, won her first global title and became the oldest female world champion in any event.

“What was missing in my career was a gold medal,” she said. “So I’m old. No, I’m just kidding.”

ALPINE WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Shiffrin was sixth fastest in the opening super-G run, 96 hundredths behind Brignone. She skied aggressively in the slalom in a bid to beat Brignone. Shiffrin cut the gap to eight hundredths by the last intermediate split with about 10 seconds left on the course in Meribel, France.

Shiffrin looked set to overtake Brignone until tripping up slightly with five gates left. It compounded, and Shiffrin couldn’t save the run, losing control, straddling the third-to-last gate and skiing out. The timing system still registered her finish — 34 hundredths faster than Brignone — but it was quickly corrected to the obvious disqualification.

Asked on French TV if she lost focus, Shiffrin said, “People are going to say that no matter what.”

“The surface changed a little bit on these last gates, so [on pre-race] inspection I saw it’s a bit more unstable on the snow,” she added. “I tried to be aware of that, but I knew that if I had a chance to make up nine tenths on Federica, or more than that, like one second, I had to push like crazy. So I did, and I had a very good run. I’m really happy with my skiing.”

It marked Shiffrin’s first time skiing out since she did so in three races at last February’s Olympics, where her best individual finish was ninth in five races. At the Olympics, she skied out within the first 13 seconds in each instance. On Monday, she was more than 40 seconds into her run.

“What she did at the Olympics versus what she did in this run, two completely different things,” NBC Sports analyst Steve Porino said on the Peacock broadcast, adding that it was “an error of aggression.” “It certainly wasn’t nerves that sent her out. This was Shiffrin knowing that she had to have a huge run to get the gold medal.

“The way she went out this time, I think she can brush that one off.”

Shiffrin was bidding to tie the modern-era records for individual world championships gold medals (seven) and total medals (12). Coming into Monday, she earned a medal in her last 10 world championships races dating to 2015.

Her next chance to match those records comes in Wednesday’s super-G, where she is a medal contender. Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel is the world’s top-ranked super-G skier through five races on the World Cup this season, though she was 71 hundredths behind Brignone in Monday’s super-G run.

Shiffrin has raced two super-Gs this season with a win and a seventh place.

She is expected to race three more times over the two-week worlds, which is separate from the World Cup circuit that she has torn up this season.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup wins in 23 starts across all disciplines since November, moving her one shy of the career victories record of 86 accumulated by Swede Ingemar Stenmark in the 1970s and ’80s. Again, world championships races do not count toward the World Cup, which picks back up after worlds end in late February.

Worlds continue Tuesday with the men’s combined.

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