Lindsey Vonn ‘did the splits’ en route to 68th win

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Lindsey Vonn overcame a brief scare to win her 68th World Cup race, a downhill at her favorite course in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

The 2010 Olympic downhill champ prevailed by a comfortable .58 of a second over Austrian Cornelia Huetter for her first victory this season in the first speed race of the campaign. Another Austrian, Ramona Siebenhofer, took third. Full results are here.

“I kind of feel old, all the other girls on the podium with me are very young,” said Vonn, 31, of sharing a podium with women aged 23 and 24. “I kind of felt relieved to be on the top step of the podium again today and to reassert myself as someone who’s not going away in the speed events.”

Vonn, coming back from fracturing an ankle in an August training crash, washed out in her previous start, a giant slalom last weekend.

On Friday, Vonn was on pace to win by a larger margin before she lost control coming around a turn about halfway down the course, forced to widen her stance to keep from falling. She recovered, though her lead dropped to .09 at the next split.

“I did the splits,” Vonn said, according to media in Lake Louise. “I thought I was going down, then I somehow managed to stay on my feet. When I realized I was still in the course, I just got back into my tuck and tried to make up as much time as I could on the bottom.”

The four-time World Cup overall champion raised her arms after seeing her standing at the finish, dropped to the snow and blew a kiss to the crowd.

Vonn has now won 16 times in 39 starts at Lake Louise, nicknamed “Lake Lindsey,” extending her record for a skier at a single venue.

She moved closer to the overall World Cup wins record of 86 held by retired Swede Ingemar Stemark, after breaking the women’s mark last season.

Vonn will be favored to win two more times this weekend, with a downhill Saturday and a super-G Sunday in Lake Louise.

Olympic slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin will join the field for the super-G in her World Cup speed event debut. Both races will air live on NBC Sports Live Extra.

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Federica Brignone passes Mikaela Shiffrin for World Cup overall lead

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Italian Federica Brignone passed an absent Mikaela Shiffrin for the World Cup overall standings lead by winning a combined in Switzerland on Sunday.

Brignone prevailed by .92 of a second adding times from super-G and slalom runs in Crans-Montana. Full results are here.

Brignone moved 73 points ahead of Shiffrin in the overall through 29 of 40 scheduled races. A race winner receives 100 points on a descending scale through the 30th-place finisher. The season runs through March 22.

Shiffrin, the three-time reigning World Cup overall champion, has not competed since the unexpected death of her father on Feb. 2. She has not announced if or when she will return this season.

Brignone, 29, is having a career season with five wins and 10 podiums across four disciplines.

Brignone’s best previous World Cup overall standings finish was fifth. She earned giant slalom medals at the 2018 Olympics (bronze) and 2011 World Championships (silver).

She could become Italy’s first female World Cup overall champion. The last Italian male winner was Alberto Tomba in 1995.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves to La Thuile, Italy, for a super-G and a combined next Saturday and Sunday.

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Jade Carey on brink of becoming first gymnast to qualify for U.S. Olympic team

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The U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials aren’t until late June, but Jade Carey is in position to qualify for the Tokyo Games in March.

Carey, seeking an individual Olympic gymnastics spot outside of the team competition, earned the maximum points in a World Cup series that is one path to Olympic qualification.

Carey has three wins each on floor exercise and vault with two World Cups left in March. Carey will mathematically clinch an Olympic spot if no other gymnasts earn maximum points on one of the apparatuses to force a tiebreaker.

A gymnast’s top three finishes across the eight-stop series count in Olympic qualifying. If Carey finishes atop the floor or vault standings, she goes to the Olympics.

Carey picked up those third wins on floor and vault at the sixth World Cup in Melbourne, Australia, this weekend.

So far, no other gymnast has two wins on floor. One other gymnast can get to the maximum points on vault with one win between the last two stops (and others with two).

The one downside to qualifying this route: Carey would not be able to compete in the team competition at the Olympics. Those four spots will be determined at and after June’s trials in St. Louis, with Simone Biles likely grabbing one of them.

“I knew I would be giving up being on the team,” Carey said in October of going the World Cup route, “but I think, for me, it made sense to just go for it.”

Carey is a world medalist on vault and floor, but she doesn’t have the all-around credentials of Biles and some other U.S. gymnasts.

Olympic team event roster sizes were cut from five to four for Tokyo, putting a greater onus on all-around prowess given a team must put three gymnasts on each apparatus in the Olympic final.

The U.S. is the deepest country in women’s gymnastics, so the only truly safe pick to make the four-woman Olympic team event roster is Biles.

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