Norway goes 1-2 in Beaver Creek downhill; American surprise

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Aksel Lund Svindal won his third straight World Cup race as part of Norway’s first one-two downhill finish since 1999 in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Friday.

Svindal, the three-time 2010 Olympic medalist, beat countryman Kjetil Jansrud by three tenths of a second on the Birds of Prey course.

The last time Norway went one-two in a World Cup downhill was 1999, when Kjetil Andre Aamodt and Lasse Kjus did so in Kitzbühel, Austria.

“Kjetil [Jansrud] came pretty close in the end … got to respect that,” Svindal said on NBCSN. “If he was a touch faster on the top, then he would probably have had me. … I pulled it off nicely.”

France’s Guillermo Fayed was third. Full results are here.

The top American was two-time Olympic super-G medalist Andrew Weibrecht in fifth, matching his best World Cup finish and his first World Cup downhill top-10 in eight years.

Svindal’s 28th career World Cup win added to his downhill and super-G victories from Lake Louise, Alberta, last weekend.

Jansrud pulled off the same three-peat last season, a campaign Svindal missed after rupturing an Achilles tendon playing soccer in October 2014.

“I knew I was good enough to win races [coming back from the injury], but it’s a big difference between being able to win and actually pulling it off,” Svindal said on NBCSN. “[Jansrud and I] are neck to neck in training all the time.”

The last man to win four straight World Cup races was Austrian legend Hermann Maier, one month before his epic crash at the Nagano 1998 Winter Olympics and recovery to win two golds later in those Winter Games.

Svindal padded his World Cup overall standings lead as he tries to unseat four-time reigning World Cup overall champion Marcel Hirscher, a slalom and giant slalom specialist from Austria.

Racing continues on Saturday with a super-G and Sunday with a giant slalom in Beaver Creek, with both events live on NBC Sports.

MORE ALPINE: Bode Miller says ‘good likelihood’ of comeback

Norway doing alright Beaver Creek!!!

A photo posted by Aksel Lund Svindal (@asvindal) on

Incredible 360° video – step into Bode Miller's skis as he takes on the 'Birds of Prey' World Cup downhill course.For the full experience, click and drag, or move your iOS device in any direction.The entire Wintersport season is live on Eurosport!

Posted by Eurosport on Friday, December 4, 2015

Alex Zanardi, auto racer turned Paralympic champion, has 5-hour surgery to rebuild face after crash

Alex Zanardi
AP
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SIENA, Italy (AP) — Italian auto racing champion-turned-Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi underwent a five-hour surgery Monday to reconstruct his face following a crash on his handbike last month.

It was the third major operation that Zanardi has had since he crashed into an oncoming truck near the Tuscan town of Pienza on June 19 during a relay event.

Dr. Paolo Gennaro of Santa Maria alle Scotte Hospital in Siena said the operation required three-dimensional digital and computerized technology that was “made to measure” for Zanardi.

“The complexity of the case was fairly unique, although this is a type of fracture that we deal with routinely,” Gennaro said in a hospital statement.

After the surgery, Zanardi was returned to the intensive care unit in a medically induced coma.

“His condition remains stable in terms of his cardio-respiratory status and grave in terms of his neurological status,” the hospital medical bulletin read.

The 53-year-old Zanardi, who lost both of his legs in an auto racing crash nearly 20 years ago, has been on a ventilator since the crash.

Zanardi suffered serious facial and cranial trauma, and doctors have warned of possible brain damage.

Zanardi won four gold medals and two silvers at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. He also competed in the New York City Marathon and set an Ironman record in his class.

Last month, Pope Francis penned a handwritten letter of encouragement assuring Zanardi and his family of his prayers. The pope praised Zanardi as an example of strength amid adversity.

Shawn Johnson East shares struggles with body image, prescription drugs

Shawn Johnson
Getty Images
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Shawn Johnson East, a 2008 Olympic gymnastics champion, detailed past struggles with body image and prescription drugs and reflected on her eating disorder as an elite athlete, to show there is hope to others in difficult situations.

“It all started with pregnancy and having my daughter,” East, who had daughter Drew in October, said on TODAY on Monday. “I had so many people asking me questions about how did pregnancy affect you mentally and how did you get your body back after having your daughter. I couldn’t answer that without giving a greater and a larger story.”

East first went public about her undiagnosed teenage eating disorders in 2015, three years after retiring from the sport. She said she limited herself to 700 calories per day and didn’t tell her parents.

In a June YouTube video, Johnson said she also binged and purged, including while dating future husband Andrew in the mid-2010s. And that she had depression and anxiety in 2011, when she returned to competition for the first time since the Beijing Games.

“I thought it would fix all of my problems,” East said of returning to gymnastics for a 2012 Olympic bid.

When East won “Dancing with the Stars” in 2009, she “hit a very low spot” going through puberty on national TV. She said she gained 15 pounds after the 2008 Olympics and started taking medications and drugs “to look like I did at the Olympics.” It included fad diets, diuretics and a three-week stretch of eating nothing but raw vegetables.

“Most pain of my entire life because I couldn’t digest anything,” she said.

At some point in 2011, East began feeling burned out. She was back to eating too few calories and overtraining. An unnamed USA Gymnastics doctor prescribed her Adderall “to lose more weight, have more energy and be more successful in gymnastics.” She took “heavy doses.”

“It helped my performances, but there were massive consequences to it,” she said. “I continued to compete into 2012, where I just started to get depressed.

“I was overdosing on Adderall. I was overdosing on any medication that wouldn’t be caught by USADA.”

Adderall was a banned substance in competition without a therapeutic use exemption, but was legal outside of competition.

“I was so controlled by other people’s opinions that I wouldn’t live up to that Olympic standard that I did anything to get it back and I could never have it back,” East said. “I didn’t learn that until later on.”

East’s mental hurdles re-emerged when she had a miscarriage in 2017. She blamed herself, believing her unhealthy lifestyle in the past was a contributor.

“Our natural inclination is to say, what did I do? And what did I do wrong?” she said. “It haunted me. I felt like I had sacrificed everything for an Olympic medal to not actually get the dream I had wanted my entire life [to have a child].”

With the help of a nutritionist and therapist and her husband, she conquered the demons through her 2019 pregnancy and childbirth.

“Having gone through a whole pregnancy and knowing that I felt confident through the whole thing, I feel like I’ve climbed Everest,” she said.

MORE: Why Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson went 8 years without talking

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