Ted Ligety

Ted Ligety wins first post-Olympic race, notches World Cup first (video)

Leave a comment

Olympic champion Ted Ligety showed no rust, winning the first World Cup race he entered since Sochi on Saturday to accomplish a feat no man has ever done in ski racing.

Ligety won a giant slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, for a sixth time. No other man has won six times in the same discipline at one venue in their careers.

“This hill is definitely a really cool hill, has so much personality and it’s a really fun hill to ski,” Ligety said. “It has steep parts. It has rolls. It has a little bit of a gliding section. It’s a hill that’s a true GS skier’s hill.”

Ligety clocked a two-run time of 2 minutes, 30.80 seconds to hold off Austrian Benjamin Raich by .18 of a second. Raich jumped from 17th place after the first run. Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen was third.

American Tim Jitloff was eighth, the fifth time he’s made a World Cup top 10 in his career. Six-time Olympic medalist Bode Miller was 24th.

Ligety moved into second place in the season standings in the giant slalom, 50 points behind Austrian leader Marcel Hirscher. Hirscher was fourth Saturday, and if he’s third or better in the World Cup Finals giant slalom next week he’s assured of winning the season title.

Hirscher made the podium in the first six giant slalom races this season before Saturday’s near miss.

“Now the GS title isn’t so far away, but it’s still kind of far away, especially with the mistakes I’ve made so far this year,” said Ligety, who has won the giant slalom season title four of the last six years. “Wins are always important, even if they don’t go for the title.”

Hirscher also made gains in the overall standings race as he seeks to become the third man to win three straight titles and the first since American Phil Mahre from 1981-83.

Hirscher is now 41 points behind leader Aksel Lund Svindal and should gain even more, if not pass Svindal, in Sunday’s slalom in Kranjska Gora. After that, the final four races of the season are at the World Cup Finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, next week.

Ligety is in fourth in the overall standings with no realistic shot at the overall title, but he’s got that Olympic gold, which “makes you feel more happy about your season, but it doesn’t really change anything in the World Cup races,” Ligety said after the first run Saturday, according to The Associated Press.

Kranjska Gora Giant Slalom
1. Ted Ligety (USA) 2:30.80
2. Benjamin Raich (AUT) 2:30.98
3. Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) 2:31.05
4. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) 2:31.43
5. Fritz Dopfer (GER) 2:31.58
6. Roberto Nani (ITA) 2:31.78
7. Mathieu Faivre (FRA) 2:31.88
8. Tim Jitloff (USA) 2:32.01
9. Steve Missillier (FRA) 2:32.12
10. Marcus Sandell (FIN) 2:32.39
24. Bode Miller (USA) 2:33.53

Hockey Hall of Fame opens Olympic display

Lawmakers choke back tears, scream at Olympic sport leaders for sex-abuse scandal

AP
Leave a comment

WASHINGTON (AP) — The tears and anger this time came from lawmakers who spent the day fuming over a growing sex-abuse problem in Olympic sports that leaders have taken too much time to solve while devoting too little money for the fixes.

“I just hope everyone here realizes the time to talk is over, and you need to walk your talk,” Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., said Wednesday shortly after choking back tears while questioning leaders of the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Center for SafeSport.

The hearing of the House subcommittee was filled with both substance and spectacle — the latter coming mostly courtesy of a five-minute burst from Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., who told the USOC’s acting CEO, Susanne Lyons, “you should resign your position now,” and tore into USA Gymnastics CEO Kerry Perry and the rest of the panel for not uttering the exact words: “I’m sorry.”

“If you don’t want to say you’re sorry, I don’t want to talk to you,” said Carter, who represents the district where a lawsuit that triggered the mushrooming scandal in gymnastics was filed.

In fact, members on the panel of U.S. sports executives did apologize to the victims, whose numbers grow almost daily and whose pain was most heart-wrenchingly displayed during the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar, the Michigan State doctor who also worked for the U.S. gymnastics team.

But set against the USOC’s slow-moving reforms, to say nothing of the raw numbers presented by SafeSport CEO Shellie Pfohl, some of the apologies felt hollow.

The USOC started talking about reforming its sex-abuse policy in 2010 after a scandal was exposed inside of USA Swimming. From then, it took seven years to open the SafeSport center to independently investigate sex-abuse claims made by Olympic athletes. Pfohl described an office that has been overwhelmed in the 14 months it has been in business.

— When it opened in March 2017, Pfohl said the center received 20 to 30 calls a month. In the wake of the #MeToo movement and the Nassar case, that has increased to about 20 to 30 calls per week.

— SafeSport operates on a budget of $4.3 million a year, $1.55 million of which was recently added as part of the USOC’s mission to bolster its response to the abuse issue. That brought the USOC’s contribution to $3.1 million. (By comparison, the USOC gave the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, in charge of Olympic drug testing in the United States, $3.7 million in 2016. Its budget is more than $19 million.)

— The budget is enough for 14 full-time employees, which includes five full-time investigators. Seven additional investigators work on a contract basis. The center has fielded 840 reports over 14 months. Reports have come in regarding 38 of the 49 national governing bodies.

— Part of the delay in opening the SafeSport center came because the USOC met reluctance from almost everyone in funding, both from outside and inside the Olympic movement. The NGBs are charged on a sliding scale, depending on their size. USA Swimming contributed only $43,000 this year, “but we’re one of the larger NGBs, and based on who we are, we could provide more resources,” CEO Tim Hinchey said.

Pfohl said she wouldn’t turn it down.

Meanwhile, she is still waiting for paperwork to apply for a $2.5 million grant the government wrote into this year’s budget. (The government gave $9.5 million to USADA in 2016.)

The witnesses testified to a continued lack of uniformity in sex-abuse policies among the NGBs, despite efforts that date to at least 2013. Some publish full lists of banned coaches and athletes. Some distribute them only to members of the organizations. Under terms of a recently passed law to protect athletes, the NGBs are supposed to be audited randomly by the SafeSport center, but that project is hamstrung because resources do not exist.

Meanwhile, the role of the USOC in overseeing it all remains confusing.

Brought up more than once was an exchange during a deposition for a sex-abuse lawsuit in which a USOC lawyer was asked if protecting athletes was a top priority for the federation.

“The USOC does not have athletes,” answered Gary Johansen — speaking to the reality that, except during the Olympics, athletes technically fall under the umbrella of their individual sports.

Lyons said that mindset will change.

“We do hold ourselves responsible, and if there’s a failing, it’s from not properly exercising our authority,” she said.

One of the best examples of the USOC using that authority has been the top-to-bottom housecleaning it demanded from USA Gymnastics.

Most news about the federation’s changes, however, has been delivered in long news releases. Wednesday marked the first time Perry has made public comments since her hiring in December. She left after the hearing without taking questions.

“I’m glad you’re here today, but a lot of people have wanted to hear from you since you took the job,” Dingell said.

But Dingell didn’t really like what she heard — “I don’t hear a sense of urgency,” she said — and she was not alone.

“As compared to how much money a district attorney’s office has, or how much money a Title IX office has at a school, it’s not in the same ballpark at all,” Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Olympic swimmer and outspoken critic of the USOC’s efforts, said of the SafeSport budget. “Shellie desperately needs more money.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Rhonda Faehn, women’s program head, ‘no longer with USA Gymnastics’

Lindsey Vonn, Ronda Rousey among athletes featured on Shark Week

AP
Leave a comment

Olympic medalists Lindsey Vonn and Ronda Rousey headline an athlete roster appearing on Discovery Channel’s Shark Week in two months.

They follow Michael Phelps‘ much talked about Shark Week shows last year.

Vonn will appear on a show called “Monster Tag.” Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski are also included.

They “will join forces with top shark scientists to learn crucial information about the ocean’s top predators,” according to Discovery Channel.

Rousey, a 2008 Olympic judo bronze medalist, will dive with a mako shark in “Uncaged: Shark vs. Ronda Rousey.” The title is similar to “Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White” from last year.

“First, Rousey, in a cage, dives into the ring with several lightweight shark species in the waters off Fiji and then moves onto the main event in New Zealand where she’ll ‘free dive uncaged’ with the heavyweight mako shark,” according to Discovery Channel.

More on Shark Week from Discovery Channel is here.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Vonn’s proposal to race men tabled