Maria Hoefl-Riesch

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

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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

Tahiti chosen for Olympic surfing competition at 2024 Paris Games

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Paris 2024 Olympic organizers want the surfing competition to be held in Tahiti, an island in French Polynesia that is nearly 10,000 miles from Paris.

It would break the record for the farthest Olympic medal competition to be held outside the host. In 1956, equestrian events were moved out of Melbourne due to quarantine laws and held five months earlier in Stockholm, some 9,700 miles away.

The Paris 2024 executive board approved the site Thursday — specifically, the village of Teahupo’o — and will propose it to the IOC. It beat out other applicants Biarritz, Lacanau, Les Landes and La Torche, all part of mainland France.

Surfing will debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games but is not on the permanent Olympic program. Surfing was among sports added to the Paris 2024 program in June and could be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

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Adam Jones, five-time MLB All-Star, becomes Olympic eligible

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Should the U.S. qualify for baseball’s Olympic return, a five-time MLB All-Star could be eligible for its roster in Tokyo. And he has interest.

Outfielder Adam Jones signed with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s domestic league, which, unlike MLB, will take an Olympic break next summer to allow players to take part in the first Olympic baseball tournament in 12 years.

Jones, 34, made no mention of Olympic eligibility in a social media post announcing the signing. His Instagram avatar is a photo of him in a Team USA jersey from the World Baseball Classic.

Jones’ agent later said that Jones does have interest in playing for the U.S. in Tokyo, should an American team qualify in the spring.

“To play over in Japan has always been a desire of Adam’s, and the timing worked out that the Olympics happens to be played in Tokyo the first year of his contract,” Jones’ agent wrote in an email. “It wasn’t one of the factors on his decision BUT more of a [sic] addition to the overall package to decide to go.”

Jones called being part of the U.S.’ 2017 WBC title, “probably the best experience of my life so far, especially with sports,” according to The Associated Press. He was one of five players to be on the U.S. team at each of the last two World Baseball Classics.

The U.S. still faces a difficult task to qualify for the Tokyo Games. It lost to Mexico last month in its first of up to three chances at qualifying tournaments, using a roster of mostly double-A and triple-A caliber players.

Major Leaguers are not expected to be made available for qualifying or for the Tokyo Games.

The next two qualifying tournaments will be in late March (an Americas qualifier in Arizona) and early April (a final, global qualifying event in Chinese Taipei). It remains to be seen how MLB clubs will go about releasing minor leaguers for a tournament that will take place during spring training.

Jones could become the third player with prior MLB All-Star experience to compete at the Olympics from any nation, joining Australian catcher Dave Nilsson and Canadian pitcher Jason Dickson.

Jones made five All-Star teams during an 11-year stint with the Baltimore Orioles from 2008-18 before playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.

Many players competed at the Olympics before making an MLB All-Star team, including Stephen Strasburg and Jason Giambi.

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