Lindsey Vonn races day after hairline knee fracture

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SOLDEU-EL TARTER, Andorra — Hampered by a fractured left knee, Lindsey Vonn managed to extend her overall World Cup lead by placing 13th in an Alpine combined event on Sunday, while Marie-Michele Gagnon of Canada took the win.

Wearing braces on both knees, the American led the competition after the super-G portion but posted only the 23rd time in the slalom run to finish 1.93 seconds behind Gagnon. Full results are here.

Vonn’s main rival for the overall title, Lara Gut of Switzerland, straddled a gate in the slalom and didn’t finish, allowing the four-time champion to extend her lead to 28 points.

Vonn crashed in Saturday’s super-G race after catching a spot of soft snow (video here). She was brought down the hill on a rescue sled and underwent tests in a hospital. She later said she had sustained a hairline fracture.

“I’ve made scans, I know I have a fracture in my tibia plateau,” she said, adding she was having an additional MRI scan later Sunday. “There is a lot of blood in it. It’s a balloon. I hope with a few days rest and therapy, it will be OK.”

Hours before Sunday’s race, Vonn posted a short video on her Facebook page, showing how she had excess fluid removed from her knee.

“Drained my knee a few times and it’s feeling a little better. Going to go up on the hill and see how it feels,” she wrote.

Vonn inspected the course for the first leg and made one run on the warmup course before deciding to actually start. She trailed the then leader, American teammate Laurenne Ross, by 0.36 halfway down the course but won by more than a half-second on her teammate with a strong finish.

Vonn screamed for joy after finishing, holding both arms and ski poles up in the air while waving to the spectators.

“There were two turns where I felt I was on the limit, but I tried to ski a bit rounder to lower pressure on my left knee,” she said. “On the bottom part I was really fast. It’s incredible. I can only say it all came from the heart.”

In the slalom, Vonn quickly lost her 0.96-second advantage over Gagnon. Knowing that Gut had skied out and thus failed to score points, Vonn held back and tried to avoid risks.

“I first thought I would give it all and risk everything,” she said. “But when Lara was out, I decided to ski a bit more careful, to make sure I get to the finish. Maybe I was a bit too cautious, but I’ve made really important points.”

Gut, who won this season’s first combined event in Val d’Isere, France, in December, was fifth after the super-G leg before her mishap in the slalom.

Chasing her first big crystal globe, the Swiss skier downplayed the slightly increased deficit to the American.

“The overall title will be awarded on March 20. Until then, you just have to race,” said Gut, who scored just 15 points in Saturday’s race. “I can’t change it, life goes on.”

Organizers had pushed back the start of the event by 90 minutes to allow fresh snow to be moved off the course.

Gagnon led Wendy Holdener of Switzerland by 0.20, and Anne-Sophie Barthet of France by 0.61 for her second career victory. She also won a combined event in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria, two years ago.

“I had pretty good super-G run yesterday and I had a solid run today so I had a good start position for the slalom,” Gagnon said. “I am surprised to win. I was hoping for a podium because I knew I would have a good chance here.”

Vonn’s American teammate Mikaela Shiffrin finished eighth in her first career combined event. Shiffrin was only 40th after the super-G portion, giving her an unfavorable start position in her strongest discipline.

The Olympic slalom champion still managed the fourth-fastest slalom time to finish 1.57 behind Gagnon.

The third and final combined event of the season is scheduled for Lenzerheide, Switzerland, in two weeks. The women’s World Cup first travels to Jasna, Slovakia, for a GS and a slalom next weekend.

VIDEO: Vonn meets Ingemar Stenmark

Eliud Kipchoge, two races shy of his target, to make Boston Marathon debut

Eliud Kipchoge Berlin Marathon
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World record holder Eliud Kipchoge will race the Boston Marathon for the first time on April 17.

Kipchoge, who at September’s Berlin Marathon lowered his world record by 30 seconds to 2:01:09, has won four of the six annual major marathons — Berlin, Tokyo, London and Chicago.

The 38-year-old Kenyan has never raced Boston, the world’s oldest annual marathon dating to 1897, nor New York City but has repeated in recent years a desire to enter both of them.

Typically, he has run the London Marathon in the spring and the Berlin Marathon in the fall.

Kipchoge’s last race in the U.S. was the 2014 Chicago Marathon, his second of 10 consecutive marathon victories from 2014 through 2019.

He can become the first reigning men’s marathon world record holder to finish the Boston Marathon since South Korean Suh Yun-Bok set a world record of 2:25:39 in Boston in 1947, according to the Boston Athletic Association.

In 2024 in Paris, Kipchoge is expected to race the Olympic marathon and bid to become the first person to win three gold medals in that event.

The Boston Marathon field also includes arguably the second- and third-best men in the world right now — Kipchoge’s Kenyan training partners Evans Chebet and Benson Kipruto. Chebet won Boston and New York City this year. Kipruto won Boston last year and Chicago this year.

American Des Linden, who won Boston in 2018, headlines the women’s field.

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2024 Tour de France to end with Nice time trial due to Paris Olympics

2024 Tour de France Nice
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The 2024 Tour de France will end on the French Riviera instead of the French capital because of the Paris Olympics.

The finish of cycling’s marquee race leaves Paris for the first time since 1905.

Tour organizers said on Thursday the last stage of its 111th race will take place in the Mediterranean resort of Nice on July 21. Five days later, Paris opens the Olympics.

Because of security and logistical reasons, the French capital won’t have its traditional Tour finish on the Champs-Elysees. Parting with tradition of a sprint on the Champs-Elysees, the last stage will be an individual time trial along Nice’s famed Promenade des Anglais.

The start of the 2024 race, which will begin for the first time in Italy, was brought forward by one week, a customary change during an Olympic year. The Tour will start on June 29 in Florence.

Nice has hosted the Tour 37 times, including its start twice, in 1981 and in 2020. Two years ago, the start was delayed until Aug. 29 due to lockdowns and travels bans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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