Lindsey Vonn holds back in first training run before comeback races

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Lindsey Vonn finished 18th in her first World Cup downhill training run this year in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Tuesday, three days before her first scheduled race since January knee surgery.

Vonn said she wore a brace, and she’s saving risk-taking for the actual races, which start Friday.

Vonn completed the course in 1 minute, 54.41 seconds, which was 1.82 slower than Norwegian leader Lotte Smiseth Sejersted.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this race,” Vonn said. “Today was fun. I have a huge smile on my face. It was a perfect way to start the season.”

Vonn will have two more opportunities for training runs, on Wednesday and Thursday before the first of three races this weekend, a downhill on Friday.

Vonn, the 2010 Olympic downhill champion, hasn’t raced since Dec. 21, 2013, when she aggravated her surgically repaired right knee in a World Cup race in Val d’Isere, France. She underwent more knee surgery in January, ruling her out of the Sochi Olympics.

“I told them before I started skiing this preparation period that they had to slow me down,” Vonn said. “I think that was my problem last year is I wanted to get back racing, and I wanted to go 100 percent all the time. Unfortunately, that’s a little bit dangerous for me at this point. I’m saving all the risks and going 100 percent for the races and trying to take it a little bit easier in the training.”

In her comeback this week, Vonn is expected to race in downhills Friday and Saturday and a super-G on Sunday at a venue nicknamed “Lake Lindsey” for her overwhelming success there.

Vonn, 30, won seven straight World Cup races in Lake Louise from 2010 to 2012. She finished first or second in 17 of 19 World Cup races there from 2006 to 2012.

Vonn’s right knee problems began at the February 2013 World Championships, when she crashed in the super-G and required season-ending surgery to repair a torn ACL, MCL and a fractured tibial plateau.

She injured the knee again in a training crash on Nov. 20, 2013. Vonn’s only three completed races last season were at Lake Louise, where she finished 40th, 11th and fifth last December. She was 22nd in her training run before those Lake Louise races last year.

Vonn’s goals for the rest of her career are clear. She wants to pass retired Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell for the women’s World Cup record of 62 career victories. Vonn has 59.

Vonn has said she also has thought about the men’s record held by Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark, who won 86 races.

Vonn averaged 10 victories per season from 2009 through 2012. If she gets back on that pace and stays healthy, she would need to ski well into the 2016-17 World Cup season to pass Stenmark around age 32.

She also wants to ski at the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics. If she competes there and wins a medal, she is slated to become the oldest women’s Olympic Alpine skiing medalist of all time.

Ted Ligety to return this weekend with screws in wrist

I'm back in the start again!!!! First downhill training run today was SO much fun!!!! Excited to start pushing myself and to build confidence going into the races this weekend 🙂 #happy #lakelouise #imback GoPro

Posted by Lindsey Vonn on Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Maria Sharapova wraps up tennis career after nearly two decades, career Slam

Maria Sharapova
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Maria Sharapova has announced her retirement after a professional tennis career that includes five Grand Slam wins, 36 singles titles and an Olympic silver medal.

Sharapova was only 17 when she won her first major in 2004 at Wimbledon. She won the U.S. Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008 before completing her career Grand Slam in the 2012 French Open. She won the French Open again in 2014.

After moving from Russia to Florida at age 9 to train at the Bollettieri Academy, she made her professional debut just after her 14th birthday in 2001. She graduated to top-level events and majors within two years and reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2003.

In 2004, she upset Lindsay Davenport and Serena Williams at Wimbledon and beat Williams again at the Tour Championships.

By 2005, the 6-foot-2 player had claimed the top spot in the world rankings. She remained in the top five for most of the next four years before suffering an injury to her right shoulder that limited her tournament schedule in 2008 and 2009. By 2011, she had reclaimed her status as a top-five player and remained there until 2016.

Her career declined after a positive drug test at the 2016 Australian Open. The substance in question, meldonium, had been given by Russian doctors to many athletes.

An initial suspension of two years was reduced to 15 months, but she wasn’t able to get back to her previous form. She won one more tournament in 2017 and reached the quarterfinals of the 2018 French Open, but she fared poorly in sporadic appearances in 2019. Her last match was a loss to Donna Vekic in the first round of the Australian Open in January.

SEE: Sharapova discusses reduced ban on TODAY

Her meldonium suspension also cost her commercial sponsorships and her role as a UN Development Program ambassador, which she earned with her work to help survivors of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl.

She was involved in the Olympics as a silver medalist in 2012, losing to Williams in the final, and as one of the final torch bearers in the relay to the 2014 Olympics opening ceremony in her home country.

She’s also third on the all-time WTA earnings list behind Serena and Venus Williams, taking in more than $38m in her career on top of lucrative endorsement deals.

Federica Brignone hopes World Cup rival Mikaela Shiffrin will return soon

Shiffrin and Brignone
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Mikaela Shiffrin‘s prolonged absence from the World Cup Alpine skiing circuit has opened the door for Italy’s Federica Brignone to break the American’s grip on the season title, but Brignone hopes her friend and rival will be back in competition soon.

“I really do hope that she will return soon for herself so she can do again what she loves most,” Brignone said.

Brignone took the season lead from Shiffrin, who has won the last three World Cup overall titles, on Sunday and has a 73-point advantage with 11 of the season’s 40 races remaining. She also leads Shiffrin by 74 points in the giant slalom standings.

READ: Brignone moves into World Cup lead

No Italian woman has won the overall World Cup. Brignone was fifth in 2017 and won the Alpine combined discipline title last season.

Brignone will have a chance to clinch another Alpine combined discipline title and extend her overall lead in her home country this weekend. While some other sports events in Italy have been canceled or otherwise affected by the coronavirus outbreak, the host resort of La Thuile has so far been spared from the virus’ spread.

Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, the only other skier with a realistic chance of winning the overall trophy, is dealing with a knee injury and might not be able to race this weekend. Vhlova leads Shiffrin by 20 points in the slalom standings.

Shiffrin has not competed since the death of her father Feb. 2, and she has not announced plans to return. She was not on pace to match her astounding 17-win 2018-19 season but still had six wins and had reached the podium in 13 of 19 races.

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