Lindsey Vonn wins No. 63, breaks record (video)

Lindsey Vonn
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Lindsey Vonn wasted no time. She broke the record for women’s Alpine skiing World Cup victories on Monday, one day after tying the mark in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

And Tiger Woods was there to see it.

Vonn easily prevailed in a super-G for her 63rd career race win, clocking 1 minute, 27.03 seconds. Second-place Austrian Anna Fenninger, the Olympic super-G champion, was .85 slower, followed by Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather.

Vonn moved past Annemarie Moser-Proell for women’s World Cup victories, one day after she drew level with the retired Austrian legend in a Cortina downhill. (more comparing Moser-Proell and Vonn’s careers here)

“I feel a lot lighter,” Vonn told media in Cortina. “I have a lot less pressure.”

Boyfriend Woods, whom Vonn said watched her record-tying race on the Internet from Florida on Sunday, embraced her in the finish area Monday.

“My dad said, ‘Hey, look, I found someone,'” Vonn said on TODAY.

He showed up without telling Vonn, incognito with a mask covering most of his face, but she recognized him.

“I knew it was him immediately,” Vonn said. “He loves that stupid mask.”

Vonn exclaimed “No way!” when she saw him, according to The Associated Press.

“I’m so surprised that he’s here,” Vonn said of Woods, who last saw her race on Dec. 21, 2013, in Val d’Isere, France, when she skied off course in her last race before ending her comeback bid for the 2014 Olympics. “This is a much better memory [than Val d’Isere] that we can have forever.”

Woods joined a large group of Vonn’s family who had been in Cortina all weekend.

source: Getty Images
Lindsey Vonn and Tiger Woods embrace after the race. (Getty Images)

“He told everyone to keep it a secret,” Vonn said. “Normally no one can keep a secret in my family.”

It’s another remarkable achievement for Vonn, the 2010 Olympic downhill gold medalist and four-time World Cup overall champion returning from blowing out her right knee at the 2013 World Championships.

NBC will air a documentary on Vonn’s comeback Sunday.

“I was a kid, but I think I said I want to be the greatest ski racer ever,” Vonn said. “As an adult, I didn’t really know if it would ever come true. It seems I’m getting closer to that point.”

On Monday, Vonn won for the fourth time in eight races since December, giving her more wins than any other woman this season. It marked her first super-G victory since Dec. 8, 2012.

She is ranked fourth in the overall standings, 434 points behind Tina Maze (100 points are awarded for a win). Maze has raced 18 times this season.

What’s next for Vonn?

More World Cup races next weekend and the World Championships at home in Vail/Beaver Creek, Colo., in February.

In the long term, the overall wins record. Swede Ingemar Stenmark won 86 races in his storied career.

“We just got done talking about one record, I don’t want to talk about another one,” Vonn joked. “I’m just going to try to ski my best, and we’ll see what happens. Eighty-six is a long, long ways away. You never know, but I’m just going to focus on tomorrow.”

Vonn provided more detail in past interviews.

“I’ve already been thinking about that [men’s record],” Vonn said in December 2013, according to Red Bulletin. “My current plan is to keep going until the 2015 World Cup. Then I’ll see how far away I am from that number and then I’ll decide what to do, whether I’ll keep going in every discipline or maybe just downhill and super-G and concentrate on that record.”

In March 2012, when she had 53 World Cup wins, the Denver Post reported Vonn “shrugs off the notion of breaking that record, as if it’s the one mark that will never be touched.”

In April 2012, Vonn told Real Vail of Stenmark’s record, “That’s definitely something to look forward to in the future, but right now my goals are just to try to keep winning … I don’t know if it’s feasible to be able to break those records or not.”

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 into the 2016-17 World Cup season to pass Stenmark around age 32.

Vonn, 30, targets skiing through the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics, but she may never ski slalom again and hasn’t skied a giant slalom yet in her comeback. So getting back to 10 victories per season may be tough.

“Records are the only thing that remain of an athlete, the only thing that people will remember,” Vonn told Red Bulletin in December 2013. “If I want to ensure that people don’t forget me, I can only stop once I’ve set the bar as high as possible for anyone coming after me. That means that as long as I can keep winning I’ll keep skiing. Essentially it’s about what I leave behind, and that means statistics, records.”

Tiger Woods plans to attend World Alpine Skiing Championships

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here with redactions.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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