Lindsey Vonn captures World Cup downhill season title with 66th win (video)

Lindsey Vonn
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Lindsey Vonn won for the seventh time this season, the 66th time in her World Cup career, and clinched her record-tying seventh World Cup downhill season title in Meribel, France, on Wednesday.

“It’s incredible,” Vonn said shortly after receiving her 18th career crystal globe trophy across all disciplines at the World Cup Finals. “After being out for two years with two major knee operations was definitely hard. To come back this year to get the downhill title again and to have an amazing season means so much to me.

“This is probably the most meaningful globe I’ve ever won.”

Vonn beat the field by .24, raising her arms and screaming after she crossed the finish line and saluting the crowd, which included several “Lindsey We Love You” signs. Austrians Elisabeth Goergl and Nicole Hosp were second and third.

Vonn, in her comeback season after two major knee surgeries knocked her out of the Sochi Olympics, matched Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell‘s women’s record for number of World Cup season titles in one discipline.

“I was happy with just a few wins [this season], but to actually get a globe is more than I had hoped for,” Vonn told media in Meribel.

Vonn also moved within one of the record for total season titles across all disciplines and the overall. She can match Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark‘s 19 if she wins the super-G on Thursday.

“Another day, another opportunity,” Vonn said.

Vonn, 30, won six straight downhill season titles from 2008 through 2013 before missing most of last season due to her knee injuries.

She entered Wednesday with a 35-point lead over Anna Fenninger in the downhill season standings, after seven of eight races. Fenninger skied before Vonn on Wednesday and crossed the finish line in fourth place. That meant all Vonn needed was to finish 15th to wrap up the season title.

Vonn goes into Thursday’s super-G with an eight-point lead on Fenninger. If both Vonn and Fenninger finish in the top four, whoever has the higher finish will take that crystal globe.

In this year’s overall title standings, Tina Maze moved to within 12 points of leader and defending champion Fenninger with three races remaining. Maze finished fourth Wednesday; Fenninger eighth.

Earlier Wednesday, Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud won the men’s downhill and clinched the season title, adding to his super-G crown. Steven Nyman was the top American in fourth.

Jansrud moved to 64 points behind Austrian Marcel Hirscher for the overall title and could move into the lead after Thursday’s super-G. Hirscher’s best events — giant slalom and slalom — are Saturday and Sunday.

Julia Mancuso in Maui for World Cup Finals

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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