Anna Fenninger
AP

Anna Fenninger out for season after crash

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Anna Fenninger, the two-time reigning World Cup overall champion, is out for the season after suffering major knee injuries in a training crash Wednesday, according to Austria’s ski federation.

Fenninger, 26, suffered a tear of the collateral and the anterior cruciate ligament of her right knee and a tear of the patellar tendon and required surgery, according to the International Ski Federation.

Fenninger is the Olympic super-G champion and the World champion in the super-G and giant slalom.

She had aimed this year to join Lindsey Vonn as the only women since 1992 to win three straight World Cup overall titles.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup season will start without Fenninger on Saturday with a giant slalom in Soelden, Austria.

Fenninger and Mikaela Shiffrin tied for the victory in Soelden last year, marking Shiffrin’s first World Cup giant slalom win.

The biggest prize in Alpine skiing this season is the World Cup overall title, given there are no World Championships or Olympics.

Now, the women who finished first and second in the World Cup standings the last three seasons are all not competing this season — Fenninger, Tina Maze (on a break this year) and Maria Hoefl-Riesch (retired).

Vonn (1,087 points) and Shiffrin (1,036) are the only returning skiers who tallied more than 1,000 World Cup points last season, accumulating results across all disciplines on the October-to-March tour.

The next-best returning skier is Swedish slalom specialist Frida Hansdotter, who had 679 points.

If one extracts the finishes of Fenninger, Maze and the retired Nicole Hosp and Kathrin Zettel from last season’s World Cup races, Vonn would finish with 1,170 points and Shiffrin would finish with 1,149 points.

Vonn, who turned 31 on Sunday, has said her goal this season is to earn a fifth World Cup overall title. She hasn’t taken the crown since 2012, one year before the first of her two major knee surgeries that kept her from defending her Olympic downhill title in Sochi.

Vonn reportedly said Monday that she is “more likely than not” to skip Soelden, after fracturing an ankle in an August training crash.

Vonn can become the oldest women’s World Cup overall champion ever this season. She can also move within one overall title of the record six held by retired Austrian Annemarie Moser-Pröll.

To compete with Fenninger, Vonn likely needed to become more proficient in giant slalom races this season (all of her eight wins last year came in downhill or super-G), but perhaps now she can contend for the overall even if she is not particularly strong in a third discipline.

The same goes for Shiffrin, who has won every slalom title the last three seasons and is improving in giant slalom but has never raced a World Cup downhill, super-G or combined.

Shiffrin, for the second straight year, hopes to make her World Cup super-G debut. Last season’s plan was scrapped after a slow start to her season in slalom.

Shiffrin, while famous for saying after becoming the youngest Olympic slalom champion in Sochi that she dreamed of winning five gold medals in 2018, has more realistically said she doesn’t want to contest the speed events of super-G and, later, downhill if the additions could jeopardize her prowess in the technical events of slalom and giant slalom.

If Shiffrin wins the World Cup overall title, she would be the youngest to do so since Janica Kostelic in 2001.

MORE ALPINE SKIING: Upcoming milestones for Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin

Brigid Kosgei beaten as another world record smashed in Nike shoes

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Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh broke the half marathon world record by 20 seconds, beating new marathon world-record holder Brigid Kosgei in the United Arab Emirates on Friday.

Nike-sponsored runners lowered the men’s and women’s marathon and half marathon records since September 2018, each appearing to race in versions of the apparel giant’s scrutinized Vaporfly shoes.

Yeshaneh, a 28-year-old who finished 14th in the 2016 Olympic 5000m, clocked 1:04:31 for 13.1 miles to better Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei‘s world record from 2017.

Kosgei, a 26-year-old Kenyan, also came in under the old world record but 18 seconds behind Yeshaneh.

Kosgei took 81 seconds off Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record on Oct. 13, clocking 2:14:04 to win the Chicago Marathon.

Nike Vaporfly shoes, including the prototypes worn by Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge when he ran a sub-two-hour marathon, were deemed legal by World Athletics’ new shoe regulations last month, according to Nike.

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Olympic, world champion lugers pull out of World Cup event over safety

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U.S. Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer and other top lugers are skipping this weekend’s World Cup stop in Winterberg, Germany, citing unsafe track conditions and a growing frustration with the international federation over athlete concerns.

“This was brought to the attention of the FIL [International Luge Federation] and yet again we were told that everything is ok,” was posted on Mazdzer’s Instagram. “I realize that a boycott is a lose-lose situation and there are no winners. But I have no other option at this point. I feel personally that this track is not safe for doubles sleds or for athletes who do not have adequate numbers of runs.”

Mazdzer said by phone Friday that he noticed significant bumps on the track in his first training run earlier this week.

“I couldn’t drive because I’m being thrown everywhere,” he said. “When you’re going 130 kilometers an hour [80 miles per hour], you don’t really want the track to be bad.”

An FIL spokesperson said Friday that Mazdzer’s choice was “his individual decision” and declined further comment ahead of races scheduled Saturday and Sunday. Mazdzer said that he was told the race starts will be moved down.

USA Luge said in a Friday statement that it will not participate in the World Cup and would communicate its concern for athlete safety to the FIL.

Two-time U.S. Olympian Summer Britcher said she was boycotting via Instagram, calling it “a farce of a World Cup.” Top lugers said athletes suffered serious injuries in training runs.

“I love this sport, but after too many decisions too many times that disregard 1-the safety of the athletes, and 2- the integrity and fairness of our sport, I have grown a great disdain for the International Luge Federation, and those who make these decisions,” was posted on Britcher’s account. “I will not race this weekend. I do not believe the track is safe, I do not believe it has been prepared to a World Cup standard, and I do not believe that the International Federation and Winterberg World Cup organisers should get away from this with no consequences.”

Britcher’s post noted that her team notified coaches and the technical director that the track was unsafe after her first training run Wednesday.

“Our concerns, and the concerns of the rest of the athletes from other nations throughout the day were not taken seriously,” Britcher posted.

Britcher said that several coaches attempted to fix the track for several hours on Thursday after athletes refused to train.

Olympic champion David Gleirscher of Austria and World Cup standings leader Roman Repilov of Russia and the top doubles teams of Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken and Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt of Germany also posted on Instagram that they’re skipping the Winterberg World Cup, the penultimate stop of the season, for safety reasons.

Mazdzer estimated a 20 percent crash rate in training, but that the track condition has improved since Wednesday. He still plans to race next week at the last World Cup in Königssee.

“There’s a lot of problems with Winterberg,” he said after detailing the situation between athletes and the FIL, “and it’s not just the track.”

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