U.S. skiers post season’s best finishes; Austrian wins Cortina d’Ampezzo super-G

Julia Mancuso

Julia Mancuso finished seventh in a World Cup super-G race Thursday, her first top-10 in 15 races this season and an encouraging sign as she speeds up for the Sochi Olympics.

The three-time Olympic medalist was the fastest in a training run Wednesday and has three more races in Cortina d’Ampezzo this weekend to build on Thursday’s effort.

“Things are going in the right direction and I know I have a lot more in me,” Mancuso said, according to The Associated Press. “Training has been going really well and racing is getting better, so I’m getting there just in time for the Olympics.”

Austrian Elisabeth Goergl won in 1 minute, 24.23 seconds. She was .04 faster than World Cup overall leader Maria Hoefl-Riesch and .32 better than countrywoman Nicole Hosp.

American Stacey Cook took ninth, also her first top-10 this season and best World Cup super-G finish in seven years.

Mancuso’s best chance for an Olympic medal looks to be in the super-G, though none of her previous Olympic medals came in the event. She is the reigning world bronze medalist and has been in the top three in the World Cup super-G standings the previous three seasons.

This season has been a struggle for Mancuso, whose best finish in any World Cup race before Thursday was 12th. However, this season’s results have been very similar to four years ago, when Mancuso won two Olympic silver medals after not placing on the podium in any World Cup races.

In fact, she posted her best pre-Vancouver Olympic finish on Jan. 23, 2010, with an eighth-place finish in a Cortina d’Ampezzo downhill.

Cortina d’Ampezzo super-G
1. Elisabeth Goergl (AUT) 1:24.23
2. Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) 1:24.27
3. Nicole Hosp (AUT) 1:24.57
4. Tina Weirather (LIE) 1:24.92
5. Anna Fenninger (AUT) 1:24.97
6. Tina Maze (SLO) 1:25.15
7. Julia Mancuso (USA) 1:25.21
8. Verena Stuffer (ITA) 1:25.47
9. Stacey Cook (USA) 1:25.48
10. Kajsa Kling (SWE) 1:25.50
10. Dominique Gisin (SUI) 1:25.50
32. Julia Ford (USA) 1:26.60
35. Jacqueline Wiles (USA) 1:27.08
37. Laurenne Ross (USA) 1:27.23
DNF. Leanne Smith (USA)

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Hilary Knight leads new-look U.S. women’s hockey roster for world championship

Hilary Knight

Hilary Knight headlines a U.S. women’s hockey roster for this month’s world championship that lacks some of the biggest names from last year’s Olympic silver-medal team. Changes have been made as the U.S. looks to end losing streaks to Canada, both overall and in major finals.

The full roster is here. Worlds start Wednesday in Brampton, Ontario, and run through the gold-medal game on April 16.

It was already known that the team would be without stalwart forwards Kendall Coyne Schofield, who plans to return to the national team after having her first child this summer, and Brianna Decker, who announced her retirement last month.

Notable cuts include the No. 1 goalies from the last two Olympics: Alex Cavallini, who returned from Christmas childbirth for the tryout camp this past week, and Maddie Rooney, the breakout of the 2018 Olympic champion team.

Cavallini, 31, was bidding to become the first player to make an Olympic or world team after childbirth since Jenny Potter, who played at the Olympics in 2002, 2006 and 2010 as a mom, plus at several world championships, including less than three months after childbirth in 2007.

Forward Hannah Brandt, who played on the top line at last year’s Olympics with Knight and Coyne Schofield, also didn’t make the team.

In all, 13 of the 25 players on the team are Olympians, including three-time Olympic medalists forward Amanda Kessel and defender Lee Stecklein.

The next generation includes forward Taylor Heise, 23, who led the 2022 World Championship with seven goals and was the 2022 NCAA Player of the Year at Minnesota.

The team includes two teens — 19-year-old defender Haley Winn and 18-year-old forward Tessa Janecke — who were also the only teens at last week’s 46-player tryout camp. Janecke, a Penn State freshman, is set to become the youngest U.S. forward to play at an Olympics or worlds since Brandt in 2012.

Abbey Levy, a 6-foot-1 goalie from Boston College, made her first world team, joining veterans Nicole Hensley and Aerin Frankel.

Last summer, Canada repeated as world champion by beating the U.S. in the final, six months after beating the U.S. in the Olympic final. Canada is on its longest global title streak since winning all five Olympic or world titles between 1999 and 2004.

Also at last summer’s worlds, the 33-year-old Knight broke the career world championship record for points (now up to 89). She also has the most goals in world championship history (53). Knight, already the oldest U.S. Olympic women’s hockey player in history, will become the second-oldest American to play at a worlds after Cammi Granato, who was 34 at her last worlds in 2005.

The Canadians are on a four-game win streak versus the Americans, capping a comeback in their recent seven-game rivalry series from down three games to none. Their 5-0 win in the decider in February was their largest margin of victory over the U.S. since 2005.

Last May, former AHL coach John Wroblewski was named U.S. head coach to succeed Joel Johnson, the Olympic coach.

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U.S. women’s rugby team qualifies for 2024 Paris Olympics as medal contender

Cheta Emba

The U.S. women’s rugby team qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics by clinching a top-four finish in this season’s World Series.

Since rugby was re-added to the Olympics in 2016, the U.S. men’s and women’s teams finished fifth, sixth, sixth and ninth at the Games.

The U.S. women are having their best season since 2018-19, finishing second or third in all five World Series stops so far and ranking behind only New Zealand and Australia, the winners of the first two Olympic women’s rugby sevens tournaments.

The U.S. also finished fourth at last September’s World Cup.

Three months after the Tokyo Games, Emilie Bydwell was announced as the new U.S. head coach, succeeding Olympic coach Chris Brown.

Soon after, Tokyo Olympic co-captain Abby Gustaitis was cut from the team.

Jaz Gray, who led the team in scoring last season and at the World Cup, missed the last three World Series stops after an injury.

The U.S. men are ranked ninth in this season’s World Series and will likely need to win either a North American Olympic qualifier this summer or a last-chance global qualifier in June 2024 to make it to Paris.

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