Tina Maze

Tina Maze ends drought in Cortina d’Ampezzo

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At last, Tina Maze returned to a familiar position — the top of the podium — two weeks before the Sochi Olympics.

The Slovenian skiing and singing sensation won a World Cup downhill in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, on Saturday, her long-awaited first victory of the season after unprecedented domination last year.

“There were a lot of emotions,” Maze said, according to The Associated Press. “It was a really long time. … When I find the right feeling like I found it today I can ski fast.”

Maze prevailed in 1 minute, 37.79 seconds in the Italian Dolomites, beating Swiss Marianne Kaufman-Abderhalden by .27. Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather was third, followed by German World Cup overall leader Maria Hoefl-Riesch in fourth.

The top Americans were Stacey Cook and Julia Mancuso in fifth and seventh, their second straight day in the top 10 as they continue to improve from a slow start to the season.

“This week has been a perfect preparation for the Olympics,” Mancuso said, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “I couldn’t be in a better place right now, and I am excited I was able to come out of that valley and be ready to fight for medals.”

But the day belonged to Maze, a broken record phrase last season.

How dominant was Maze in 2012-13? Here are some stats:

*Led the overall standings from wire to wire over 35 races.
*Finished first or second in all five race disciplines.
*Made the podium a record 24 times in one season.
*Shattered the record for most points in a season with 2,414 (Hermann Maier had 2,000).
*Had more than twice as many points as second place (Hoefl-Riesch).
*Shattered the record for margin of victory with 1,313 (Maier had 743).

All of which made it shocking it took Maze until the 22nd race for her maiden win of the follow-up season. She didn’t free fall, but she was clearly not in form the first couple months, making three podiums over the first 12 races.

“It’s always difficult after that kind of season [in 2012-13],” Maze told Reuters recently. “I know I’m in the best shape of my career even if I’m not showing it.

Two weeks ago, Maze announced she split with Italian coach Walter Ronconi and replaced him with Swiss Mauro Pini. Ronconi was not the coach responsible for Maze’s rise to Alpine’s zenith. He had replaced Livio Magoni, who left after last season for a spot with the Italian women’s team.

Maze’s boyfriend, Andrea Massi, still oversees Maze and is labeled as the head coach or team manager in various reports.

Now, Maze can take confidence into not only the remaining World Cup races (beginning with a super-G in Cortina on Sunday) but also Sochi.

Lindsey Vonn‘s absence leaves an opening for a new woman to become an Olympic star. Maze, 30, will be going to her fourth Games, already owning silver medals from the 2010 Olympic super-G and giant slalom.

She has the talent to win medals in all five Olympic races and put pressure on Mikaela Shiffrin in slalom, though that is her weakest event.

Cortina d’Ampezzo Downhill
1. Tina Maze (SLO) 1:37.79
2. Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden (SUI) 1:38.06
3. Tina Weirather (LIE) 1:38.17
4. Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) 1:38.33
5. Anna Fenninger (AUT) 1:38.35
5. Stacey Cook (USA) 1:38.35
7. Julia Mancuso (USA) 1:38.42
8. Dominique Gisin (SUI) 1:38.46
9. Nicole Schmidhofer (AUT) 1:38.52
10. Lara Gut (SUI) 1:38.58

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Hayato Sakamoto, Japanese baseball MVP, tests positive for coronavirus

Hayato Sakamoto
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Hayato Sakamoto, an MVP of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league, is one of two players from the Yomiuri Giants to test positive for the coronavirus, according to several Japanese media reports.

Sakamoto, a 31-year-old shortstop, and catcher Takumi Oshiro tested positive ahead of the NPB’s planned June 19 start to the season that had been delayed to the coronavirus.

The tests showed traces of the coronavirus, according to Kyodo News.

The Giants canceled Wednesday’s practice game with the Seibu Lions to limit the spread of the virus.

Sakamoto is the reigning Central League MVP. He has been called the Derek Jeter of Japan for playing the same position as the Yankee great and being the veteran captain of Japan’s equivalent club, the Giants, which own a record 22 Japan Series titles.

Sakamoto, who played in the last two World Baseball Classics, has been considered a lock for Japan’s baseball team at the Tokyo Games in 2021 as the most well known active player who hasn’t left for Major League Baseball. MLB is not expected to allow its top players to participate in the Olympics, which would keep the likes of Shohei Ohtani and Masahiro Tanaka off the Olympic roster.

The sport returns to the Olympic program for the first time since 2008, though it is not on the 2024 Olympic program nor guaranteed a place at the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Japan reached the semifinals of all five Olympic baseball tournaments when the sport was previously on the medal program but never took gold.

In a 2018 survey, Sakamoto was ranked as Japan’s eighth-most popular athlete across all sports, foreign or domestic, active or retired.

Sky Brown, 11-year-old Olympic skateboard hopeful, suffers serious injuries in fall

Sky Brown Skateboard Fall
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Sky Brown, an 11-year-old British Olympic skateboarding hopeful, recently suffered her worst fall, requiring surgery, she said in a video posted from a hospital bed.

Brown suffered skull fractures and broke her left wrist and hand and was at first unresponsive upon arrival to a hospital, according to the BBC, which quoted her father.

Video of the fall from a skateboarding ramp was posted on her social media. She appeared to be wearing a helmet in the video.

“I don’t usually post my falls or talk about them because I want people to see the fun in what I do,” Brown said. “But this was my worst fall, and I just want everyone to know that, it’s OK, don’t worry. I’m OK. It’s OK to fall sometimes. I’m just going to get back up and push even harder. I know there’s a lot of things going on in the world right now. I want everyone to know that whatever we do, we’ve just go to do it with love and happiness.”

Brown is the 2019 World bronze medalist in the new Olympic sport’s park discipline.

Later Tuesday, Brown reposted an Instagram post from what appeared to be her father’s account. The caption of that post said Brown fell 15 feet to flat concrete.

“I held her in my arms and she bled helplessly moaning in and out of consciousness waiting for the helicopter to take her to the Hospital,” the caption read. “We spent the night sick and terrified not knowing if Sky was going to make it through the night, as the ICU team tried to get her conscious and kept her alive.

“4 days later Sky sits across from me with her full memory back, smiling, watching TikTok while Eating her favorite bad snacks.”

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Last week the worst thing I could ever ever imagined happened to @skybrown . She fell about 15ft off the side of a vert ramp to flat concrete. I held her in my arms and she bled helplessly moaning in and out of consciousness waiting for the helicopter to take her to the Hospital. We spent the night sick and terrified not knowing if Sky was going to make it through the night, as the ICU team tried to get her conscious and kept her alive. We prayed and begged God to give Sky another chance. Word came back while she was still unconscious, multiple fractures to her skull, a broken left arm, which she broke into pieces because she used it to break her fall, broken right fingers and lacerations to her heart and lungs. 4 days later Sky sits across from me with her full memory back, smiling, watching TikTok while Eating her favorite bad snacks. More importantly her Doctors and the trauma team say it’s a miracle how well she is dealing with the pain and recovering incredibly fast. They said it’s shocking and believe it’s because of her grit, positivity and attitude. Skys brother @oceanbrown has been so brave. He saw his sister fall to the ground lying in a pool of blood and was screaming in tears that night outside of the hospital. He has still not allowed into the hospital to see her. They miss each-other dearly, but no siblings are allowed to enter the hospital because of coronavirus. They’ve been spending hours a day on FaceTime with each other making funny faces to one another in fits of giggles and laughter. Sky promises Ocean daily that she will make a fast recovery so they can be together again. Sky is constantly joking and smiling and it’s hurts my heart to even imagine for a second a world without Sky; extremely thankful that I don’t have to. Thank you to the heroes that are the doctors, nurses and hospital staff that have tirelessly worked on her and helped her get to this point.

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