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

Ted Ligety
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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

Photos: Hockey goalie’s mask has Constitution removed

Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time

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Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

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Kaillie Humphries begins trek to 2026 Winter Olympics with monobob World Cup win

Kaillie Humphries
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Kaillie Humphries is off to a strong start to a four-year cycle that she hopes ends with her breaking the record as the oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

Humphries, the women’s record holder with three Olympic bobsled titles, earned her first World Cup victory since February’s Winter Games, taking a monobob in Park City, Utah, on Friday.

Humphries, the first Olympic monobob champion, prevailed by .31 of a second over German Lisa Buckwitz combining times from two runs at the 2002 Olympic track.

Humphries has said since February’s Olympics that she planned to take time off in this four-year cycle to start a family, then return in time for the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Games. Humphries, who can become the first female Olympic bobsledder in her 40s, shared her experiences with IVF in the offseason on her social media.

“We’ve pushed pause so that I could go and compete this season, maintain my world ranking to be able to still work towards my 2026 goals, and we’ll go back in March to do the implantation of the embryos that we did retrieve,” she said, according to TeamUSA.org.

The next Games come 20 years after her first Olympic experience in Italy, which was a sad one. Humphries, then a bobsled push athlete, was part of the Canadian delegation at the 2006 Torino Games, marched at the Opening Ceremony and had her parents flown in to cheer her on.

But four days before the competition, Humphries learned she was not chosen for either of the two Canadian push athlete spots. She vowed on the flight home to put her future Olympic destiny in her own hands by becoming a driver.

She has since become the greatest female driver in history — Olympic golds in 2010, 2014 and 2022, plus five world championships.

Her longtime rival, five-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor, plans to return to competition from her second childbirth later in this Olympic cycle and can also break the record of oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

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