Lindsey Vonn

Lindsey Vonn eyes crystal record; World Cup Finals preview, schedule

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Lindsey Vonn recently ordered a new, second trophy case to store her crystal globes, the prizes awarded to the best skiers per discipline and overall for an entire World Cup season.

Vonn has collected 17 crystal globes during her career.

“Should we only make it for 17?” the builder asked Vonn.

“No, we need to make it bigger,” replied Vonn, relaying the story to French media Monday. “I have room for 23. … I hope I can fill it up at some point.”

Vonn, who won six times this campaign, breaking the women’s World Cup career victories mark following two major knee surgeries, can match another record at the season-ending World Cup Finals in Meribel, France, this week.

She’s in position to add to her trophy case this season’s crystal globes for the downhill and super-G. That would give her 19 career season titles, matching the record held by Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark.

Stenmark also holds the overall race victories record of 86, which Vonn may also one day take down. She’s at 65 right now.

“To be back in this position at finals is pretty damn good,” Vonn said Monday.

Here’s the World Cup Finals schedule (all times Eastern; all events streamed live on UniversalSports.com):

Wednesday — Men’s Downhill — 4:30 a.m.
Wednesday — Women’s Downhill — 6 a.m. (Vonn)
Thursday — Men’s Super-G — 4:30 a.m.
Thursday — Women’s Super-G — 6 a.m. (Vonn)
Saturday — Women’s Slalom — 4 a.m./6:30 a.m.
Saturday — Men’s Giant Slalom — 5 a.m./7:30 a.m.
Sunday — Men’s Slalom — 4 a.m./6:30 a.m.
Sunday — Women’s Giant Slalom — 5 a.m./7:30 a.m.

UniversalSports.com also has the full standings in each discipline here.

Vonn was fastest in downhill training runs Monday and Tuesday and enters the official downhill Wednesday with a 35-point lead over Austrian Anna Fenninger for the crystal globe.

If Fenninger wins the downhill race Wednesday, Vonn must finish in second place to keep the season title. Vonn won six straight downhill globes from 2008 through 2013 and is seeking to tie Annemarie Moser-Proell‘s women’s record of seven globes in one discipline.

The super-G is closer. Vonn leads Fenninger by eight points going into Thursday’s race. If both Vonn and Fenninger finish in the top four, whoever has the higher finish will take that crystal globe.

Fenninger is trying to become the first woman since Vonn to repeat as World Cup overall champion. She overtook Tina Maze in the overall standings last weekend and has a 30-point edge on the Slovenian going into this week’s four races.

Both Fenninger and Maze are strong in downhill and super-G, so the overall competition could come down to the weekend’s giant slalom and slalom. Vonn is mathematically eliminated from that race but hopes to be a factor in the overall next season.

Mikaela Shiffrin will enter the picture starting with Saturday’s slalom. The 20-year-old will clinch her third straight slalom season title if she finishes in the top 15. That shouldn’t be a problem.

Shiffrin is in third place in the giant slalom season standings and could finish as high as second Sunday. She’s shown continued improvement in her complementary discipline after finishing 19th in the standings in 2013 and seventh in 2014.

The men’s competitions for crystal globes are not as compelling.

Ted Ligety will cede his giant slalom crown to Austrian rival Marcel Hirscher, who clinched it last weekend.

Hirscher also holds a 164-point lead in the overall standings above Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud, meaning the Austrian is very likely to become the first man to win four straight World Cup overall titles.

Hirscher trails German Felix Neureuther by 55 points in the slalom standings. If Hirscher wins the slalom race Sunday, Neureuther could finish fourth and still walk away with that crystal globe.

Jansrud already clinched the super-G globe, but the downhill is very much in play. He leads Austrian Hannes Reichelt by 20 points, but Reichelt would take the globe if he wins Wednesday’s race.

Julia Mancuso in Maui for World Cup Finals

World champion wins doping case citing bodily fluids from boyfriend

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — A world champion canoeist won a doping case Monday after persuading a tribunal that her positive test was caused by bodily fluid contamination from her boyfriend.

The International Canoe Federation (ICF) ended its investigation into 11-time world champion Laurence Vincent Lapointe, who tested positive for a steroid-like substance in July. She faced a four-year ban and could have missed her event’s Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games.

The Canadian canoe sprint racer and her lawyer detailed in a news program that laboratory analysis of hair from her then-boyfriend showed he was likely responsible for a tiny presence of ligandrol in her doping sample.

“The ICF has accepted Ms. Vincent Lapointe’s evidence which supports that she was the victim of third-party contamination,” the governing body said in a statement, clearing her to return to competition.

The legal debate is similar to tennis player Richard Gasquet’s 2009 acquittal in the “cocaine kiss” case. The Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted Gasquet’s defense that kissing a woman who had taken cocaine in a Miami nightclub, after he had withdrawn injured from a tournament, caused his positive test.

The 27-year-old Vincent Lapointe was provisionally suspended for almost six months and missed the 2019 World Championships, which was a key qualifying event for the Tokyo Olympics. American 17-year-old Nevin Harrison won the 200m world title in her absence.

She can still qualify for the Olympic debut of women’s canoe sprint events with victory at a World Cup event in May in Germany.

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U.S. women’s soccer team begins Olympic qualifying, which should rest on one match

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The U.S. women’s soccer team has never been in danger in Olympic qualifying, but that doesn’t change this fact: It must win on Feb. 7 to reach the Tokyo Games.

The CONCACAF tournament begins Tuesday in Houston, where the world champion Americans face world No. 72 Haiti. The last two group games are against No. 68 Panama on Friday and No. 37 Costa Rica on Feb. 3. The top two nations from the group advance to Feb. 7 semifinals.

The U.S. roster, with 18 of its 20 players coming from the 2019 World Cup team, is here.

Since CONCACAF qualifies two nations to the Olympics, the semifinals are the deciding games.

Should the U.S. win its group, it would face the runner-up from the other group in a winner-goes-to-Tokyo match. The other group (world ranking):

Canada (8)
Mexico (37)
Jamaica (53)
St. Kitts and Nevis (127)

Chaos could result in the unlikely event that either the U.S. or Canada finishes second in its group, and the two North American powers play a semifinal.

The U.S. is undefeated in Olympic qualifying history, since the tournament format began in 2004 — 15-0 with a goal differential of 88-1 (not counting matches played once they’ve already clinched qualification). The lone goal allowed came in a group-stage match in 2008, when the U.S. was already assured a spot in the semifinals.

Still, the U.S. knows the feeling of one poor outing in an important match. In 2010, it lost to Mexico in a winner-to-the-World Cup match. The U.S. was forced to win a last-chance, home-and-home playoff against a UEFA team — Italy — for the last spot in the World Cup.

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