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

Penny Oleksiak to miss world swimming championships

Penny Oleksiak
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Seven-time Olympic medalist Penny Oleksiak of Canada will miss July’s world swimming championships because she does not expect to be recovered enough from knee and shoulder injuries.

“The bar that we set was, can she be as good as she’s ever been at these world championships?” coach Ryan Mallette said in a press release. “We just don’t feel like we’re going to be ready to be 100 percent yet this summer. Our focus is to get her back to 100 percent as soon as possible to get ready for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.”

Oleksiak, who owns the Canadian record of seven Olympic medals (across all sports), missed Canada’s trials meet for worlds two months ago due to the injuries. She was still named to the team at the time in hope that she would be ready in time for worlds.

The 22-year-old returned to competition last month at a Mare Nostrum meet in Barcelona, after which she chose to focus on continued rehab rather than compete at worlds in Fukuoka, Japan.

“Swimming at Mare Nostrum was a checkpoint for worlds, and I gave it my best shot,” Oleksiak said in the release. “We reviewed my swims there, and it showed me the level I want to get back to. Now I need to focus on my rehab to get back to where I want to be and put myself in position to be at my best next season.”

Oleksiak had knee surgery last year to repair a meniscus. After that, she developed an unrelated left shoulder injury.

In 2016, Oleksiak tied for Olympic 100m freestyle gold with American Simone Manuel. She also earned 100m butterfly silver in Rio and 200m free bronze in Tokyo, along with four relay medals between those two Games.

At last year’s worlds, she earned four relay medals and placed fourth in the 100m free.

She anchored the Canadian 4x100m free relay to silver behind Australia at the most recent Olympics and worlds.

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Fred Kerley flies into Florence via Grenada; Diamond League broadcast schedule

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American Fred Kerley is about to race on a fourth different continent this year, but the seeds for this season — and all of his medal-winning seasons — were planted on the sand, grass and pavement of Grenada.

Kerley, the world 100m champion, headlines Friday’s Diamond League meet in Florence, Italy. Peacock streams it live from 2-4 p.m. ET. CNBC airs coverage Saturday at 1 p.m. ET.

It was to be a showdown between Kerley and the Olympic 100m champion, Marcell Jacobs of Italy. But Jacobs withdrew on Tuesday due to the nerve pain that has pushed back the start of his outdoor season. Jacobs withdrew from six scheduled races with Kerley dating to May 2022 due to a series of health issues since winning that surprise gold in Tokyo.

Kerley, who traded social media barbs with Jacobs earlier this spring, indicated a detente in a press conference Thursday.

“I’m not upset that he’s not competing, just wish him health and that he gets back to competing at 100 percent,” he said.

When speaking of himself, Kerley kept his trademark confidence. He wore a hat with a goat on it on Thursday and repeated that his focus is on two numbers: 9.69 (Tyson Gay‘s American record in the 100m) and 9.58 (Usain Bolt‘s world record). Kerley’s personal best, in two-plus years since dropping down from the 400m, is 9.76.

He resides in South Florida, a place that allows an outdoor athlete to train year-round. Kerley eschews that. He annually flies to Grenada for up to six-week stays.

“[I] work on a lot of specific stuff in Grenada to get me to the level I need to be when Budapest comes around,” Kerley said, referring to August’s world championships in the Hungarian capital, where he will bid to become the first man to repeat as world 100m champion since Bolt in 2013 and 2015.

Why Grenada? His Texas-based coach, Alleyne Francique, competed at three Olympics for the Spice Island, including placing fourth in the 400m at the 2004 Athens Games. That was the best Olympic finish for any Grenada athlete until Kirani James won a 400m medal of every color at the last three Games.

Francique recruited Kerley to Texas A&M out of junior college in 2015. When Kerley turned pro in 2017, he moved to the ALTIS training facility in Arizona. After a year, he went back to Francique at College Station — “It didn’t work out for me. I won’t say anything bad about the program,” he said in 2019, according to Track and Field News. Kerley has since moved to Florida, but Francique still coaches him remotely from Texas.

Kerley has trained in Grenada’s national stadium in St. George’s, which in 2017 was named after James. But a more unique venue for Kerley is a paved hill near the home of one of Francique’s friends.

“There’s no traffic, so it’s a good area to train,” Francique said.

There are few distractions there, aside from chickens, ducks and cattle. Francique noted that in the three seasons that Kerley trained in Grenada, he won bronze (2019 Worlds 400m), silver (Tokyo Olympic 100m) and gold (2022 Worlds 100m).

“So next year, maybe, he breaks a world record,” Francique said.

Here are the Florence entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

12:30 p.m. — Women’s Discus
12:45 — Men’s Triple Jump
1:15 — Men’s Shot Put
1:43 — Women’s Pole Vault
2:04 — Women’s 400m Hurdles
2:15 — Men’s 200m
2:20 — Men’s High Jump
2:25 — Women’s 3000m Steeplechase
2:42 — Women’s Long Jump
2:44 — Women’s 100m
2:56 — Men’s 110m Hurdles
3:06 — Men’s 5000m
3:28 — Women’s 400m
3:39 — Men’s 100m
3:49 — Women’s 1500m

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s Pole Vault — 1:43 p.m. ET
Just like the Diamond League season opener in Doha, the field has the top five from the last year’s worlds, led by Americans Katie Moon and Sandi Morris, the gold and silver medalists. Moon is the world leader this year indoors and outdoors, though she no-heighted at last Saturday’s Los Angeles Grand Prix. Come August’s worlds, she will look to become the first woman to repeat as world champ in the pole vault in 16 years. Morris, who was third in Doha, eyes her first global outdoor title after four silvers between the Olympics and worlds.

Women’s Long Jump — 2:42 p.m. ET
A gathering of the world’s most accomplishes active jumpers — Olympic and world champion Malaika Mihambo of Germany, Olympic and world medalist Ese Brume of Nigeria — and the top Americans — Quanesha Burks and Tara Davis-Woodhall. They’re all chasing 7.08 meters, the world’s best leap this year recorded by Jamaican Ackelia Smith, a University of Texas sophomore.

Men’s 5000m — 3:06 p.m. ET
Field includes Olympic 5000m champion Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda, Olympic 10,000m champion Selemon Barega of Ethiopia and world silver medalist Jacob Krop of Kenya as well as reigning U.S. 5000m and 10,000m champions Grant Fisher and Joe Klecker. Cheptegei, the world record holder, was ninth at last July’s worlds and since has strictly raced on the roads and in cross country.

Men’s 100m — 3:39 p.m. ET
The entire podium from last year’s worlds meets here: Kerley and countrymen Marvin Bracy-Williams and Trayvon Bromell. It’s a similar field to last Sunday, when Kerley prevailed by five hundredths over South African Akani Simbine. Simbine is back, as is Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala, who is the world’s fastest man this year (9.84) but was third in Rabat.

Women’s 1500m — 3:49 p.m. ET
Kenyan Faith Kipyegon, a double Olympic and double world champion, ran the world’s fastest time of 2023 at the Diamond League opener in Doha on May 5. Then last weekend, four different Ethiopians ran faster. Kipyegon figures to be faster in Florence than she was in Doha given the addition of Brit Laura Muir, the Olympic silver medalist and world bronze medalist, in her outdoor season debut.

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