Anna Fenninger wins Worlds giant slalom; Vonn, Shiffrin, Maze miss medals

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Austrian Anna Fenninger won her second gold medal at the World Alpine Skiing Championships, taking the giant slalom, while Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin and Tina Maze finished off the podium.

Fenninger, who captured the super-G last week, prevailed by 1.4 seconds combining times from two runs Thursday in Beaver Creek, Colo. Fenninger was fastest in the first run and second fastest in the second run, despite nearly falling at one point.

“I thought I will crash,” Fenninger told NBC Sports’ Carolyn Manno. “It’s unbelievable that I could stand and stay in the course. It’s so close to lose everything and [then] to win everything.”

German Viktoria Rebensburg earned silver, followed by Swede Jessica Lindell-Vikarby taking bronze.

Slovenia’s Tina Maze was fifth, ending her bid to become the first woman to win five individual medals at a single World Championships. Maze, the World Cup overall leader who may retire after this season, previously took gold in the downhill and super combined and silver in the super-G.

Shiffrin placed eighth in the giant slalom, her second-best event behind the slalom, where she will defend her World title Saturday. Shiffrin had placed tied for first, third, sixth and 10th in four World Cup giant slaloms this season.

Watch Shiffrin’s second run here.

Vonn finished 14th, competing in giant slalom for the first time in more than two years and in her final event of these World Championships. Boyfriend Tiger Woods was on hand to watch her race Thursday. Vonn improved from 27th place after the first run with the fifth-best second run.

“Second run, I finally found the timing, and I just let it go,” Vonn said on NBCSN. “It’s nice to kind of end these championships on a positive note.”

Vonn, 30, ended the World Championships with a bronze medal in the super-G, a fifth in the downhill and did not finish the super combined. She hoped for better after winning five of 10 World Cup starts in her comeback in December and January.

“These World Championships just haven’t really gone the way I had hoped and dreamed that they would,” Vonn, who felt knee soreness during Worlds, said after her first run Thursday, according to the Denver Post. “I’ve got to look at the small positives. I still have one medal, and I’m proud of that.”

Vonn’s next goal is contending for a World Cup overall title.

The World Championships continue with the men’s giant slalom Friday, including defending World champion Ted Ligety.

World Alpine Skiing Championships broadcast schedule

Snowboarding pioneer Jake Burton Carpenter passes away

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Jake Burton Carpenter, the pioneer who brought snowboarding to the masses and helped turn the sport into a billion-dollar business and Olympic showpiece, has died at 65.

He died Wednesday night in Burlington, Vermont, according to an email sent to the staff of the company he founded. Carpenter had emailed his staff this month saying, “You will not believe this, but my cancer has come back.” He had been diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011 but after several months of therapy had been given a clean bill of health.

Carpenter quit his job in New York in 1977 to form the company now known simply as Burton. His goal was to advance the rudimentary snowboard, then called a “Snurfer,” which had been invented by Sherman Poppen a dozen years earlier.

It worked, and more than four decades later, snowboarding is a major fixture at the Winter Games and snowboards are as common as skis at resorts across the globe.

“He was our founder, the soul of snowboarding, the one who gave us the sport we all love so much,” Burton co-CEO John Lacy said in his email to the staff.

Grieving Mikaela Shiffrin returns to World Cup Alpine action with fourth reindeer at stake

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The traditional World Cup Alpine skiing season opener last month in Soelden, Austria, was an emotional one for Mikaela Shiffrin.

Shiffrin’s grandmother, Pauline Condron, was in declining health in the days leading up to the race, making Shiffrin wonder if she should head home instead of staying in Soelden. Condron was especially close to Shiffrin, helping to take care of her soon after birth.

Condron passed away Oct. 22, four days before the Soelden giant slalom, at age 98.

“Polly loved sports,” Condron’s obituary said. “She was an avid bowler in her younger years and enjoyed playing tennis and skiing. Few people know that she excelled at ping pong, had a killer serve, gave up very few games and played into her 90s.”

Condron was able to see Shiffrin in person at World Cup races in Killington, Vt. The World Cup will return next weekend to Killington, which has just passed its FIS inspection.

Shiffrin finished second in Soelden’s giant slalom to an upstart rival, 17-year-old New Zealander Alice Robinson. Shiffrin is the reigning Olympic and World Cup champion in the giant slalom, but she hasn’t won in Soelden since 2014.

In the slalom, Shiffrin is more dominant. She won eight of nine World Cup races last year, losing only to Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, and won her fourth straight world championship despite battling illness. The last time Shiffrin finished worse than second in the technical discipline was in the 2018 Olympics, when she uncharacteristically faltered and finished fourth.

Saturday’s race in Levi, Finland, is a slalom. Shiffrin has won three of the last five races in Levi, which means she also has three reindeer  Rudolph, Sven and Mr. Gru. She can win a fourth on Saturday.

The men also have a slalom this weekend in Levi, racing Sunday.

Both runs for each event stream live on NBC Sports Gold at 4:15 and 7 a.m. ET, with the Olympic Channel also carrying the second runs each day.

MORE: Alpine skiing TV schedule

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