Ted Ligety

Ted Ligety stuns in World Cup Finals downhill; new overall leader

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Olympic giant slalom champion Ted Ligety posted his first career World Cup downhill podium at the opening race of the World Cup Finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, on Wednesday.

Ligety tied for second behind Austrian winner Matthias Mayer. Mayer, the Olympic downhill champion, prevailed in 1 minute, 29.99 seconds, .11 better than Ligety and Italian Christof Innerhofer.

Ligety, who doesn’t race much downhill anymore, finished in the top 10 of a World Cup downhill for the second time in his career. He also finished fourth in a Lenzerheide downhill in 2007.

“I knew entering today that I had a good chance on this kind of a hill,” Ligety said. “It’s not a typical downhill hill, so it suits kind of a guy that has more GS skills like me.”

The result pushed Ligety from fourth to third in the overall World Cup standings with three races left in Lenzerheide. Ligety leads France’s Alexis Pinturault by five points for third.

Ligety became the eighth man to earn World Cup podiums in all five disciplines — downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom and super combined — according to Infostrada.

“It’s nice to try to gain some points on Pinturault with third place, but that’s not really the important race here,” said Ligety, who is in second place in the giant slalom and has a small chance to move into first there Saturday. “To be on the podium in every single event now in my career is a pretty cool accomplishment.”

The race for the overall World Cup title remains tight.

Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal picked up 45 points with his fifth-place finish Wednesday. He had already clinched the season title in the downhill, so to finish off the podium wasn’t what he was looking for.

Svindal moved 41 points ahead of Austrian Marcel Hirscher in the overall standings. Svindal should increase that lead in Thursday’s super-G, but Hirscher is stronger in the giant slalom and slalom this weekend.

Svindal called it a 50-50 competition between him and Hirscher going forward.

“If I have to put money on someone, I have no idea who it would be,” Svindal said. “Hopefully it will be on me.”

Americans Travis Ganong and Bode Miller were sixth and eighth, respectively, on Wednesday. 

Miller, a six-time Olympic medalist, finished eighth in the season downhill standings after missing all of last season following knee surgery.

Ganong, 25, finished ninth in the downhill standings, continuing an ascent from 44th to 30th to 18th the previous three seasons.

Lenzerheide Downhill
1. Matthias Mayer (AUT) 1:29.99
2. Christof Innerhofer (ITA) 1:30.10
2. Ted Ligety (USA) 1:30.10
4. Peter Fill (ITA) 1:30.12
5. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) 1:30.19
6. Travis Ganong (USA) 1:30.51
7. Sandro Viletta (SUI) 1:30.55
8. Bode Miller (USA) 1:30.61
9. Carlo Janka (SUI) 1:30.79
10. Adrien Theaux (FRA) 1:30.98

Final Downhill Standings
1. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) — 570
2. Hannes Reichelt (AUT) — 360
3. Erik Guay (CAN) — 357
8. Bode Miller (USA) — 264
9. Travis Ganong (USA) — 250
26. Ted Ligety (USA) — 80

World Cup Finals preview

Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

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Conseslus Kipruto tests positive for coronavirus, canceling world-record bid

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Conseslus Kipruto, the Olympic and world 3000m steeplechase champion, tested positive for the coronavirus without symptoms, which will keep him from a world-record chase on Friday, according to his social media.

The Kenyan was to race in the first in-person Diamond League meet of the year in Monaco on Friday.

“Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities,” was posted. “Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League.

“I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well.”

Kipruto, 25, is the 14th-fastest steepler in history with a personal best of 8:00.12. The world record is 7:53.63, set by Kenyan-born Qatari Saif Saaeed Shaheen in 2004.

Last year, Kipruto won the world title by .01, extending a streak of a Kenyan or Kenyan-born man winning every Olympic or world title in the event since the 1988 Seoul Games. He was sidelined by a stress fracture in his left foot until opening his season extremely late on Aug. 24.

MORE: Trayvon Bromell’s road back through destruction, death

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Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities. Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League on August 14th. I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well. Wish to thank Monaco for all the work they have done and I wish them and my colleagues a wonderful competition. Athletics is back and I will be back as well. Anyone willing to organise a steeple once I can be cleared? @diamondleaguemonaco #nike #quarantine #WR #Kenya

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