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

Lindsey Vonn
0 Comments

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

Japanese pair edges Americans for historic Grand Prix Final figure skating title

Riku Miura, Ryuichi Kihara
Getty
0 Comments

Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara won the biggest title ever for a Japanese figure skating pair, taking the Grand Prix Final and consolidating their status as the world’s top active team.

Miura and Kihara, last season’s world silver medalists, barely outscored world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier in Turin, Italy, in both Thursday’s short program and Friday’s free skate to win the six-pair event that is a preview of March’s worlds.

The Japanese totaled 214.58 points, distancing the Americans by a mere 1.3 points after Frazier erred on both of their side-by-side jumping passes in the free skate. Italians Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii took bronze.

“We had a very late start to our season than initially planned, so as we have been performing at each event, I see us getting stronger, improving things,” said Frazier, who with Knierim had their best short program and free skate scores of the autumn.

Knierim and Frazier didn’t decide to continue competing together this season until July.

“I feel a little personally disappointed tonight just for myself for my jumps,” Frazier continued. “I was a little all over the place and, normally, I can execute better, so I feel a little bad, but I’m very proud of us overall. We’ve done a great job of improving each competition and looking forward to the second half of the season where we can start tapping into our best skating.”

GRAND PRIX FINAL: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Miura and Kihara, who partnered in June 2019 and train in Ontario, both waited with trepidation for their final score to be posted, worried that each’s separate mistake on jumps might cost them the title. When they learned they won, both burst into tears.

“This was the first time in eight years that I made a mistake with a Salchow, so I thought we might not get a good score, and it would be my fault,” Kihara said.

Miura and Kihara entered the competition ranked No. 1 in the world by best scores this season ahead of Knierim and Frazier, who in March became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979.

Last season, Miura and Kihara became the second Japanese pair to make a Grand Prix podium and to earn a world championships medal. Their ascension helped Japan win its first Olympic figure skating team event medal in February (a bronze that could be upgraded to gold pending the Kamila Valiyeva case).

In Grand Prix Final history, Japan had won 11 gold medals and 40 total medals, all in singles, before this breakthrough.

Knierim and Frazier, already the first U.S. pair to compete in the Grand Prix Final since 2015, became the first U.S. pair to win a Grand Prix Final medal. The Final has been held annually since 1996, though it was canceled the last two seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Miura and Kihara and Knierim and Frazier ascended to the top of the sport while the top five teams from the Olympics from Russia and China have not competed internationally since the Winter Games.

All Russian skaters are ineligible for international competition due to the war in Ukraine. China’s pairs, including Olympic champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, didn’t enter last March’s worlds and did not compete in the fall Grand Prix Series.

Later Friday, world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan led the women’s short program with 75.86 points, 1.28 ahead of countrywoman Mai Mihara. American Isabeau Levito, the 15-year-old world junior champion, was fifth of six skaters in her Grand Prix Final debut.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier topped the rhythm dance with 85.93 points, edging Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates by .44. Both couples are bidding for the biggest international title of their careers. None of the Olympic medalists competed internationally this fall.

The Grand Prix Final ends Saturday with the men’s and women’s free skates and free dance, all live on Peacock.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

A Winter Olympic medal still being decided, 10 months later

Fanny Smith, Daniela Maier
It's still unknown whether Fanny Smith (green) or Daniela Maier (blue) is the Olympic ski cross bronze medalist. (Getty)
0 Comments

There is a second Winter Olympic medal result still in question, 10 months after the Games.

While the figure skating team event results are still unknown due to the Kamila Valiyeva case, the bronze medal in women’s ski cross is also in dispute.

Originally, Swiss Fanny Smith crossed the finish line in third place in the four-woman final at the Winter Games in February. Upon review by the International Ski Federation (FIS) jury, she was minutes later demoted to fourth place after making contact with German Daniela Maier near the end of the course. Maier, who originally was fourth, was upgraded to bronze.

“I tried to be OK with the fourth place. I was very disappointed, I have to say, [then] the jury was like this,” Maier said then. “I am really sorry for Fanny that it’s like this right now. … The jury decided like this, so accept it and be happy with the medal.”

Smith and the Swiss ski federation appealed. FIS reinstated Smith as the bronze medalist nine days after the race and six days after the Closing Ceremony. A FIS appeals commission met four times and reviewed video and written documentation for several hours before deciding that “the close proximity of the racers at that moment resulted in action that was neither intentional or avoidable.”

But that wasn’t the end. The case ended up reportedly going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), whose rulings are usually accepted as final. The CAS process is ongoing, European media reported this week.

CAS has not responded to a request for comment. A FIS contact said Friday, “There is currently no update to provide in regards to the bronze medal in ski cross. Should there be any update, we will inform you.”

Smith said there should be news soon regarding the case, according to Blick.

Maier still has the bronze medal at her home and enjoys looking at it, according to German media, which also reported that the German ski federation expects Maier to win the case and keep the medal. Smith and Maier spoke extensively about it in recent training sessions and cleared things up. Maier said the best outcome would be bronze medals for both of them, according to the report.

For now, FIS lists Smith as the bronze medalist. The IOC lists Maier as the bronze medalist.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!