Ted Ligety

Ted Ligety’s super combined win key for Sochi medal hopes

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Ted Ligety notched a World Cup victory Friday that will boost his multiple-medal chances at the Olympics.

The American captured a super combined race in Wengen, Switzerland. He had the second fastest morning slalom run and the 13th fastest afternoon downhill to win in a total time of 2 minutes, 44.74 seconds.

France’s Alexis Pinturault was second, .22 behind, followed by Croatia’s Natko Zrncic-Dim.

Overall World Cup leader Aksel Lund Svindal was fifth with the fastest downhill time. Bode Miller was ninth, his fourth top 10 of the season.

Ligety won his 20th career World Cup race, but the previous 19 were giant slaloms. He had not made a podium in a World Cup race outside giant slalom in more than four years.

That stat was somewhat forgotten when Ligety won three gold medals at the 2013 World Championships, including in the super combined. He was instantly marked as a contender for three gold medals.

But Ligety posted one top-10 in the first seven non-giant slalom World Cup races this season before Friday. He had finished 27th, DNF and DNF in the first three World Cup races in 2014.

“January’s been a tough month for me so far,” Ligety said. “It’s nice to kind of turn the corner, I guess.”

This was the first super combined of the season, and Ligety is the 2006 Olympic champion in the combined, a race no longer contested at the Olympics that included not one but two slalom runs and a downhill.

The men’s Alpine skiing World Cup continues with a downhill in Wengen on Saturday.

Snow caused officials to switch the format Friday, going with slalom in the morning and downhill in the afternoon. Ligety was the first skier off in the slalom.

“To run first was definitely an advantage,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “The snow was pretty bad up there.”

Wengen Super Combined
1. Ted Ligety (USA) 2:44.74
2. Alexis Pinturault (FRA) 2:44.96
3. Natko Zrncic-Dim (CRO) 2:45.82
4. Sandro Viletta (SUI) 2:46.12
5. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) 2:46.22
6. Thomas Mermillod Blondin (FRA) 2:46.30
7. Christof Innerhofer (ITA) 2:46.64
8. Matthias Mayer (AUT) 2:46.80
9. Bode Miller (USA) 2:46.89
10. Peter Fill (ITA) 2:47.04
20. Jared Goldberg (USA) 2:48.29
28. Andrew Weibrecht (USA) 2:50.15

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Cyclist in induced coma after Tour of Poland crash

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Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was put into an induced coma Wednesday after suffering injuries in a crash on the final stretch of the Tour of Poland, organizers said.

A massive crash at the finish of the first stage resulted in Dylan Groenewegen‘s disqualification from the race.

Leading a bunch sprint, Groenewegen veered toward the right barrier, pinching countryman Jakobsen, who barreled into the barrier meters from the finish line.

Jakobsen went head over heels, his bike went airborne and the barriers exploded onto the road, causing more cyclists to crash.

Jakobsen was airlifted to a hospital in serious condition and was put into an induced coma, the Tour de Pologne press office said.

Groenewegen crossed the finish line first but was disqualified, giving Jakobsen the stage win, according to the stage race website.

Groenewegen, a 27-year-old Jumbo-Visma rider, owns four Tour de France stage wins among the last three years.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) “strongly condemned” Groenewegen’s “dangerous” and “unacceptable” behavior. It referred Groenewegen’s actions to a disciplinary commission for possible sanctions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Figure skating Grand Prix Series will be held as ‘domestic’ competitions

Skate America
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Figure skating’s Grand Prix Series will go ahead as scheduled this fall, with modifications due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Skating Union decided Monday.

Each of the series’ six tops around the globe will be “a domestic run event,” limited to skaters of the event’s host country, who regularly train in the host country and from a respective geographical area. The number of disciplines and skaters at each event are to be worked out.

The Grand Prix Series, held annually since 1995, is a six-event fall season, qualifying the top six skaters and teams per discipline to December’s Grand Prix Final. The annual stops are in the U.S., Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan, leading up to the Final, which is held at a different site each year.

The Final is the second-biggest annual competition after the world championships, which are typically in late March. The Final is still scheduled for Beijing, though whether or when it can be held will be discussed.

The series begins in late October with Skate America, which debuted in 1979 and has been held every year since 1988 as the biggest annual international competition in the U.S. Skate America’s site is Las Vegas, just as it was in 2019.

Skaters typically compete twice on the Grand Prix Series (three times if they qualify for the Final). ISU vice president Alexander Lakernik said skaters will be limited to one start in the six-event series before the Final, according to a Russian media quote confirmed by Phil Hersh.

The ISU has not confirmed or denied Lakernik’s assertion.

Most, if not all, top-level U.S. skaters train in the U.S. or Canada. That makes the first two Grand Prix stops — Skate America and Skate Canada — likely destinations. Grand Prix assignments have not been published.

“I appreciate the ISU is open to adapting competitive formats and is working to give athletes opportunities to compete,” Evan Bates, a U.S. ice dance champion with Madison Chock who trains in Montreal, wrote in a text message to Hersh. “This announcement gives reassurance that the ISU is doing their best to ensure a season will still take place. Of course, it’s hard to predict what will happen, and we’re not sure about what country we would compete in. It would probably depend on what the quarantine rules are at that time.”

The January 2021 U.S. Championships are scheduled for San Jose, Calif. The March 2021 World Championships are set for Stockholm.

In July, the ISU canceled the Junior Grand Prix Series for skaters mostly ages 13 to 18, including two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu, who cannot enter the senior Grand Prix until 2021.

Other early season senior international competitions scheduled for September were also canceled or postponed.

U.S. Figure Skating said in a statement that it will have more details on the Grand Prix Series in the coming weeks after collaborating with an ISU-appointed group.

“This is a great example of the figure skating community coming together to ensure that the world’s premier figure skating series will continue during these challenging times,” the statement read. “Figure skaters want to compete and figure skating fans from all around the world want to see their favorite athletes skate, and this format will ensure just that.”

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