Travis Ganong takes Worlds downhill silver behind Swiss (video)

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Who will American downhill fans turn to if Bode Miller retires? Travis Ganong is your man.

Ganong, 26, grabbed silver in the World Championships downhill in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Saturday, the biggest result of his burgeoning career.

“I’ve been dreaming of this race all winter,” Ganong said. “This is the best moment of my career.”

Swiss Patrick Kueng earned gold, .24 ahead of Ganong. Another Swiss, Beat Feuz, was third, .31 behind. Three-time U.S. Olympian Steven Nyman was fourth, .03 out of the medals. (full results here)

None of the top five skiers had won an Olympic or Worlds medal before.

Ganong, a Squaw Valley, Calif., native, impressed with a fifth place in his Olympic debut in the Sochi downhill last year.

He made his first World Cup podium one month later and notched his first World Cup victory on Dec. 28.

“It’s a building process,” Ganong said. “You have to learn how to ski downhill. It’s a dangerous sport.”

Ganong became the first American to win a Worlds downhill medal since Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves went one-two in 2005.

Miller, 37, told NBC’s Dan Hicks that he’s “leaning pretty heavy towards” retiring following his World Championships super-G crash Thursday.

The retired Rahlves was a forerunner for Saturday’s race and rode a chair lift with Ganong.

“[Rahlves] was an idol of mine growing up,” Ganong recently said. “I really try to emulate my skiing from what he did.”

The two go hiking and mountain biking in the summer, and they watched film two days ago of Rahlves’ 2003 World Cup downhill win on the same hill. Ganong said he learned some of Rahlves’ “tricks and tactics,” according to The Associated Press.

Ganong was part of a surprising podium Saturday.

Kueng, 31, became the first Swiss man to win the World Championships downhill in 18 years. Kueng entered with two World Cup victories in 84 starts and a best Olympic/Worlds finish of seventh.

He won his first World Cup race on the Beaver Creek Birds of Prey course on Dec. 7, 2013, and nearly crashed there two months ago.

Feuz, 27, entered with five World Cup victories, but none in almost three years. His best Olympic/Worlds finish before Saturday was ninth.

No Austrian man finished in the top 10 of a World Championships downhill for the first time since at least 1939, perhaps ever, according to International Ski Federation records.

The World Championships continue with Ted Ligety defending his title in the super combined Sunday (NBC and Live Extra, 5 p.m. ET).

World Championships broadcast schedule

Tina Maze becomes oldest women’s World champion; Lindsey Vonn 5th

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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