Maria Hoefl-Riesch takes Cortina downhill; Americans in top 10

Maria Hoefl-Riesch
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Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch solidified her Olympic favorite status by winning a World Cup downhill race in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, on Friday.

Americans Julia Mancuso and Stacey Cook posted top-10s for the second straight day after coming into the week with zero top-10s this season.

Hoefl-Riesch extended her World Cup overall and downhill leads by prevailing in 1 minute, 17.84 seconds. Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather was second, .31 behind, followed by Austrian Nicole Schmidhofer.

“The downhill globe is a big goal for me,” Hoefl-Riesch told The Associated Press of the trophy given to World Cup season champions. “The last years it was always impossible because Lindsey [Vonn] was so strong. I already was skiing strong in the last years, but there was never a chance, because I was not consistent enough on every single track like Lindsey.

“And of course I would love to win the Olympic downhill. That’s the biggest race in skiing.”

Cook was fifth, her best World Cup finish since her only two career World Cup podiums in Lake Louise, Alberta, in fall 2012.

Mancuso placed ninth after being seventh in a super-G on Thursday and fastest in a training run Wednesday.

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.

She posted her best pre-Vancouver Olympic finish on Jan. 23, 2010, an eighth in a Cortina d’Ampezzo downhill.

The women race another downhill Saturday and a super-G Sunday.

Cortina d’Ampezzo Downhill
1. Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) 1:17.84
2. Tina Weirather (LIE) 1:18.15
3. Nicole Schmidhofer (AUT) 1:18.59
4. Lara Gut (SUI) 1:18.60
5. Stacey Cook (USA) 1:18.62
6. Anna Fenninger (AUT) 1:18.66
7. Tina Maze (SLO) 1:18.76
8. Daniela Merighetti (ITA) 1:18.89
9. Julia Mancuso (USA) 1:18.95
10. Andrea Fischbacher (AUT) 1:19.01
15. Jacqueline Wiles (USA) 1:19.40
17. Laurenne Ross (USA) 1:19.43
25. Leanne Smith (USA) 1:19.66
40. Julia Ford (USA) 1:20.71

Staten Island man, 46, and wife will ski for Dominica at Sochi Olympics

Isabeau Levito, 15, delivers in figure skating nationals short program as favorite

Isabeau Levito
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Isabeau Levito, the 15-year-old favorite, delivered in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships short program, taking the lead into Friday’s free skate.

Levito, third in her senior nationals debut last year, tallied 73.78 points in a clean short on Thursday in San Jose, California.

She edged the comebacking two-time U.S. champion Bradie Tennell by two hundredths of a point. Starr Andrews was third, one hundredth ahead of Amber Glenn and 1.53 points ahead of Gracie Gold.

A committee selects the three-woman team for worlds shortly after the free skate.

“I was kind of aiming for this placement,” Levito said on USA Network.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Levito, a New Jersey native who started skating at 3 and a half and has been with the same coach since age 4, developed a steely reputation as a competitor. That mixes with her artistic comparisons to 2006 Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen and her inspiration, Johnny Weir. She hasn’t missed a podium at a competition she has completed at any level since November 2016.

It’s seemed like Levito has been destined to be the leading U.S. woman in the 2026 Olympic cycle, leading up to the Winter Games in her mom’s hometown of Milan. She was too young for last year’s Olympics, but would have just missed the team had she been age-eligible.

None of the three 2022 U.S. Olympians are competing this season — Alysa Liu and Mariah Bell retired; Karen Chen is studying at Cornell — paving the way for Levito to ascend.

That she did, winning April’s junior worlds to become the first U.S. woman to win a global title — junior or senior — since 2008.

Then this past fall, Levito placed second in her first two senior Grand Prix starts, then placed a surprising second at December’s Grand Prix Final, which gathered the world’s top six women from across the series.

Granted, the Final was her lowest point total of her five international events this season. All six skaters had multiple jumping errors in the free skate.

Levito ranks fifth in the world by best total score this season, fourth among seniors and a whopping 18.13 points better than the No. 2 American. Note the absence of Russia, which has dominated women’s skating for the last decade.

Levito won’t be worrying about her international standing while sitting on an overnight lead. She has work left in Friday’s free skate to win what could be the first in a series of national titles.

Tennell, 24, had her best short program since coming back from a 19-month competition break due to foot and ankle injuries. She was unable to defend her national title last year, ruling her out of Olympic contention.

“Even just making it back onto the ice again was a struggle,” Tennell said while in the arena where she made her Olympic team in 2018. “I stepped on the ice today and I looked up and I closed my eyes and I took a deep breath, and I was like, ‘You can do this,’ which is the exact same thing I did five years ago.”

Andrews, 21, is coming off a fall Grand Prix Series where she became the first Black U.S. skater to win a medal on the circuit.

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2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships scores, results

2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships
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Full scores and results from the 2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose …

Women’s Short Program
1. Isabeau Levito — 73.78
2. Bradie Tennell — 73.76
3. Starr Andrews — 68.97
4. Amber Glenn — 68.96
5. Gracie Gold — 67.44
6. Lindsay Thorngren — 62.64
7. Clare Seo — 61.48
8. Ava Ziegler — 61.09
9. Audrey Shin — 60.76
10. Ting Cui — 57.11
11. Josephine Lee — 55.60
12. Lindsay Wang — 52.19
13. Sonja Hilmer — 51.16
14. Michelle Lee — 46.71
15. Gabriella Izzo — 45.73
16. Alexa Gasparotto — 45.00
17. Elsa Cheng — 44.36
18. Hanna Harrell — 42.84

Pairs Short Program
1. Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier — 81.96
2. Emily Chan/Spencer Howe — 66.86
3. Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea —- 65.75
4. Valentina Plazas/Maximiliano Fernandez — 63.45
5. Sonia Baram/Danil Tioumentsev —- 63.12
6. Katie McBeath/Nathan Bartholomay —- 56.96
7. Nica Digerness/Mark Sadusky — 50.72
8. Maria Mokhova/Ivan Mokhov —- 46.96
9. Grace Hanns / Danny Neudecker — 46.81
10. Linzy Fitzpatrick/Keyton Bearinger — 45.27
11. Nina Ouellette/Rique Newby-Estrella — 43.99

Rhythm Dance
1. Madison Chock/Evan Bates — 91.90
2. Caroline Green/Michael Parsons — 81.40
3. Emilea Zingas/Vadym Kolesnik — 78.18
4. Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko — 77.37
5. Lorraine McNamara/Anton Spiridonov — 76.23
6. Emily Bratti/Ian Somerville — 75.91
7. Eva Pate/Logan Bye — 75.52
8. Isabella Flores/Ivan Desyatov — 73.91
9. Oona Brown/Gage Brown — 72.80
10. Katarina Wolfkostin/Jeffrey Chen — 69.05
11. Angela Ling/Caleb Wein — 68.53
12. Leah Krauskopf/YuanShi Jin — 52.59
13. Cara Murphy/Joshua Levitt — 50.88
14. Caroline Depietri/TJ Carey — 48.28
WD. Raffaella Koncius/Alexey Shchepetov

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | New Era for U.S.

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