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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Alysa Liu rallies to win Junior Grand Prix with another quadruple jump

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U.S. figure skating champion Alysa Liu landed a quadruple Lutz for a second straight Junior Grand Prix, rallying from fourth after the short program to win an event in Poland on Friday.

Liu, who in January became the youngest U.S. champion in history at age 13, won both of her starts in her first season on the Junior Grand Prix to become the first U.S. woman to qualify for the six-skater Junior Grand Prix Final since 2013 (Polina Edmunds and Karen Chen). The Final is held with the senior Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy, in December.

She won Friday by 6.63 points by surpassing a pair of Russians, a rarity in this era. Her free skate is here.

Liu trailed by 4.03 points after doubling a planned triple loop in the short program. She was the lone skater in the field to attempt a triple Axel (landing three of them, including two in combination and one with a negative grade of execution) or a quad.

Liu tallied 138.99 points in the free skate and 203.10 overall. She ranks sixth in the world this season by best total scores among junior and senior skaters, though some top skaters have yet to compete.

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Rafaela Silva, first Brazilian gold medalist at Rio Olympics, claims innocence after positive drug test

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Rafaela Silva, the judoka who grew up in Rio’s most famously violent favela to become Brazil’s first gold medalist at the Rio Olympics, reportedly tested positive for a banned substance last month.

Silva tested positive for fenoterol, a substance that can be legal to treat asthma if an athlete has a therapeutic use exemption (TUE). Silva did not have a TUE before testing positive at the Pan American Games in August, according to Brazilian media.

A possible punishment has not been announced.

Silva claimed innocence at a news conference Friday afternoon, saying that a young child with whom she had bodily contact at her training location used the substance, and she plans to compete at a domestic event this weekend, according to O Globo.

Silva, 27, backed up her Rio Olympic 57kg title by taking bronze at the world championships later in August. If she is punished for the positive test, Silva could lose that bronze medal, though she said Friday that she had a clean drug test at worlds, according to O Globo.

Silva, from Rio’s Ciadade de Deus favela, has the Olympic rings tattooed on her right bicep with the inscription “God knows how much I’ve suffered and what I’ve done to get here.”

Brazil’s top female swimmer, Etiene Medeiros, reportedly tested positive for fenoterol in May 2016 but was cleared to compete at the Rio Olympics.

In PyeongChang, Slovenian hockey player Ziga Jeglic tested positive for fenoterol and was scratched before his nation’s last game before it was announced. Jeglic was suspended from the Games and, later, was suspended eight months.

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