Alice McKennis

Alice McKennis to miss Olympics; internal problems for U.S. women’s team

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Another U.S. women’s Alpine skier pulled the plug on an Olympic bid Friday.

Alice McKennis ended her season after one World Cup race, citing continuing pain coming off a March 2 crash that fractured her right tibial plateau.

“I still have a lot of pain in my lower leg and that’s affected a lot of muscles in that area and that’s affecting my power,” McKennis said, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “In order to race World Cup at a safe and competitive level you need to be at or pretty close to 100 percent and I know that I’m not there now.”

McKennis, 24, finished 43rd in a downhill race in Val d’Isere, France, on Dec. 21. She had won a World Cup downhill in St. Anton, Austria, on Jan. 12, 2013, boosting her chances of not only making her second Olympic Team but also joining the medal-contender discussion.

“It’s pretty heartbreaking to miss Sochi, but I’ve already been to an Olympics and I’ve already participated,” said McKennis, who was disqualified for skiing off course in the 2010 Olympic downhill. “When I go to the Olympics next time, I want to be a contender and I want to know that I have a shot at a medal. Right now, I don’t feel like I have that shot.”

McKennis was one of six U.S. women to make a World Cup podium in at least one speed event last season. None have made a World Cup podium so far this season, and two, McKennis and Lindsey Vonn, are now out of Olympic consideration with injuries.

“Last year, they pushed themselves to a different level,” coach Alex Hoedlmoser said, according to The Associated Press. “This year we are not there yet, but we know why we are not there yet. We targeted those areas, and it is going to be better.”

They’ll know Saturday, when the World Cup season resume with a downhill in Altenmarkt, Austria.

Three-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso, whose best finish this season is 12th, said the team’s issues are “really hard to explain.”

“There has been some internal stuff that we know that happened, and that we don’t really want to present to everybody,” Hoedlmoser told the AP.

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Bernard Lagat commits to Olympic marathon trials, eyes age record

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Bernard Lagat, a 44-year-old, five-time Olympian, reportedly said he will race the Olympic marathon trials on Feb. 29 in a bid to break his own record as the oldest U.S. Olympic runner.

“I feel like I can still improve,” Lagat said, according to Runner’s World. “I’m going to give it my best.”

Lagat, a two-time Olympic 1500m medalist, moved to the marathon after becoming the oldest U.S. Olympic runner in history at the Rio Games, placing fifth in the 5000m.

He clocked 2:17:20 in his 26.2-mile debut at the 2018 New York City Marathon. He lowered it to 2:12:10 at the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia on July 7 but did not previously commit to entering the trials.

If Lagat finishes in the top three at the marathon trials, he is in line to become the third-oldest U.S. Olympic track and field athlete in history. The oldest are race walker John Deni (49 years old in 1952) and hammer thrower Matt McGrath (48 years old in 1924), according to the OlyMADMen.

Lagat ranks outside the top 20 among U.S. marathoners in this Olympic cycle. The fastest are Galen Rupp (2:06:07), Leonard Korir (2:07:56, from Sunday’s Amsterdam Marathon) and Scott Fauble (2:09:09).

No American has competed in six Olympics in track and field. Lagat’s first two Olympic appearances were for Kenya.

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Natalie Geisenberger, Olympic luge champion, will not race this season

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For the first time in eight years, there will be a new World Cup women’s luge champion.

Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger — the seven-time defending champion and two-time defending Olympic singles gold medalist — announced that she isn’t sliding this season because she and her husband are expecting their first child in April.

“Our happiness is on the way,” Geisenberger said on her Facebook page.

Geisenberger plans to return next season and still has hopes to compete at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, where she could match fellow German great Georg Hackl’s feat of winning three consecutive singles golds.

With Geisenberger not sliding this season, the top returning women from last year’s World Cup standings now are Julia Taubitz of Germany and Summer Britcher of the U.S. — second and third, respectively, in 2018-19.

Geisenberger has a luge record-tying four Olympic golds in all, being part of Germany’s victories in the team relays in Sochi in 2014 and Pyeongchang in 2018 as well.

Her 49 World Cup singles wins are another record, and she’s one of two sliders to win seven consecutive World Cup titles — Austria’s Markus Prock took the men’s championships each year from 1990-91 through 1996-97.

Geisenberger’s break from sliding only adds to how the World Cup standings — and the German roster — will look very different this season. Dajana Eitberger, who was fourth in last season’s World Cup standings, is also pregnant and expecting a baby in February. And Tatjana Huefner, who was sixth overall last season, has retired.

Huefner won five consecutive World Cup titles before Geisenberger took over and began her seven-year streak of championships. Geisenberger earned medals 11 times in 12 singles races last year — six golds, four silvers and one bronze.

“We are so happy for you even though we will miss you this season!” two-time Olympic singles gold medalist Felix Loch of Germany wrote in a message to Geisenberger on Instagram.

Geisenberger has been in the top three of the World Cup standings in 12 consecutive seasons. She was third in 2007-08, finished second in each of the next four seasons, and then began her title streak in 2012-13.

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