Vanessa-Mae’s Olympic skiing qualifying results rigged, official says

Vanessa Mae
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Violinist Vanessa-Mae‘s results to earn a berth at the Olympics were “fixed at the behest of Thai ski officials to meet her qualifying criteria for Sochi,” the president of the Slovenian Ski Association told The Associated Press.

Vanessa-Mae, who skied in Sochi for Thailand as Vanessa Vanakorn, was last among 67 finishers in the giant slalom, 11.35 seconds behind the 66th-place finisher and 50.1 seconds behind winner Tina Maze.

The Slovenian Ski Association comes into play because her final qualifying races for Sochi were in Slovenia — and “hastily-staged,” according to the BBC.

Four Slovenian ski officials have been suspended over false race times and results. One skier was listed as finishing fourth despite not being present. Another woman fell during a race, slowly continued to the finish and was recorded as taking second place, according to the BBC.

“We think there is serious doubt about what happened in the race,” Slovenian Ski Association president Jurij Zurej told the BBC. “We must state clearly that there is absolutely no proof any athlete, including Vanessa, was knowingly involved in any activities that would breach any of our rules or those of the International Ski Federation.”

Vanessa-Mae, 35, has sold in excess of 10 million albums since her 1995 debut, according to the Guardian. She began playing violin at age 5 and was a child prodigy, one year after she started skiing.

World Cup ticket scam prompts IOC to review ticketing for Rio Olympics

12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell
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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

Francesco Friedrich
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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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