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Lindsey Vonn ninth in Garmisch super-G, eyes ‘revenge’ at worlds

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Lindsey Vonn finished ninth in a World Cup super-G in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on Sunday and called it “a good first step” in her first super-G since returning from knee and arm injuries.

Vonn was 1.65 seconds slower than Swiss Lara Gut, who won after finishing second to Vonn in Saturday’s downhill. Full results are here.

Returning from a fractured knee and broken upper arm, Vonn’s previous two races were both downhills, starting with a 13th-place finish in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, last Sunday.

“Like in the downhill in Zauchensee, it took me one race to really get into it,” Vonn said. “I think today was positive. I didn’t ski my best. I had some trouble with the ice, but I will train some more.”

The women’s World Cup continues with a giant slalom in Kronplatz, Italy, on Tuesday, which Vonn is expected to skip.

Vonn, competing this month for the first time since last February, is next expected to race a downhill and super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, on Saturday and Sunday and then the world championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in early February.

The last time worlds was in St. Moritz, in 2003, Vonn did not make the U.S. team at age 18, when she was known as Lindsey Kildow.

At that time, her best World Cup result was 23rd. However, Vonn had placed sixth in the 2002 Olympic combined, the only top 10 for the U.S. women at those Winter Games and the best Alpine finish by an American that young in Olympic history.

“My coaches didn’t think I was good enough,” Vonn said Sunday. “Now, I get my revenge. I get my second chance, and I hope I can prove everyone wrong.”

From the Denver Post in 2004:

Kildow lost a big chunk of last season when she caught a tip on a gate in the season’s first downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, causing a severe strain of the hip flexor muscles in her left leg. Kildow had to be airlifted from the mountain.

‘It was pretty bad,’ Kildow said. ‘I thought I had ripped my leg off.’

The injury didn’t require surgery, but it kept her out of action for a month. When she returned, coaches kept her on the developmental Europa Cup for six weeks rather than rush her back into the World Cup, making it impossible for her to qualify for the world championships at St. Moritz, Switzerland.

‘After coming off sixth (place) in the Olympics, it would have been nice to race in the world championships because I definitely was skiing at that level,’ Kildow said. ‘I thought I had a chance of getting a podium.’

Gut came into the weekend 315 points behind U.S. Olympic slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin in the standings for the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing. She leaves Garmisch having sliced Shiffrin’s lead to 135 points.

Gut and Shiffrin’s battle for the overall title could come down to the World Cup Finals in Aspen, Colo., in mid-March. Though Gut’s chances increase if Shiffrin continues to sit out speed races.

MORE: Vonn sets date on proposal to enter men’s race

Rewind: Australia’s Steven Bradbury gains gold and lasting fame after pileup takes out Apolo Ohno

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Heading into the 2002 Winter Olympics, young American Apolo Ohno was a phenom with a legitimate shot at multiple medals in short-track speedskating.

The 1999 world junior champion and future “Dancing with the Stars” champion had finished first in the World Cup season standings in all three individual disciplines in the 2000-01 season. In the 2001 world championships, he took gold in the relay and the 3,000m (a non-Olympic event), silver in the 1,000m and fourth in the 1,500m.

Australia’s Steven Bradbury was at the other end of his career, enduring all sorts of misfortune in the years that followed — a 1995 accident in which he needed more than 100 stitches after a skate blade sliced his thigh, then a 2000 accident in which he broke two vertebra in his neck. 

The highlights of Bradbury’s career were relay world championships medals — gold in 1991, bronze in 1993, silver in 1994. He and his relay teammates also took Olympic bronze in 1994.

Bradbury barely advanced to one individual final, the 1,000m in 2002. He advanced from the quarterfinal when Canadian favorite Marc Gagnon was disqualified. He advanced from the semifinal when multiple skaters fell.

In the final, Bradbury was matched up against three outstanding skaters, including Ohno and Li Jiajun of China, who won this event and the overall title at the 2001 world championships. Ohno and Li had finished 1-2 in the 1,000m World Cup standings in 2001.

Bradbury couldn’t keep up. The other four skaters were in a pack, making dangerous passes among each other, while Bradbury fell further and further behind.

Those dangerous passes finally caught up to the rest of the field in the final turn. Li bumped into Ohno, which would lead to Li’s disqualification. After the lead pack jockeyed for position through the entire race, all four tumbled to the ice.

Bradbury, the last man standing, crossed the finish line first.

 

From the tangled pile-up, Ohno managed to fling himself, skate-first, across the finish line to take silver. Canada’s Mathieu Turcotte made it across for bronze.

Ohno wasn’t done in Salt Lake City. He won the 1,500m gold after the disqualification of Kim Dong-Sung, a controversial decision that made Ohno the object of South Korean derision.

Less controversially, Ohno won three more individual world championship events from 2005 to 2009, plus two relay golds, and the overall world title in 2008. In the Olympics, he took six more medals, including gold in the 500m in 2006 and silver in the 1,500m in 2010.

Bradbury missed the finals in the other two events in Salt Lake City, but his name lives on in the Urban Dictionary and elsewhere as a synonym for an improbable and even accidental victory. He embraced his unique place in history to carve out a career as a motivational speaker delivering more than 1,000 speeches in 19 countries, according to the International Skating Union and has even seen his win commemorated in Legos.

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Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier form new figure skating pair

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A few weeks after her husband and skating partner, Chris Knierim, stepped away from competitive figure skating, Alexa Scimeca Knierim has a new partner.

Brandon Frazier, who was also looking for someone to form a new pair after longtime partner Haven Denney stepped away from competition, at least temporarily, will join Scimeca Knierim on the ice whenever they’re able to train and compete again.

Frazier is a longtime friend of Chris Knierem. Scimeca Knierim told U.S. Figure Skating’s FanZone that Frazier had played a pivotal role in kindling the Knierem’s off-ice romance.

Denney and Frazier won the U.S. championship in 2017 and finished 20th in the world championships that year. They finished third in their two Grand Prix assignments last fall — Skate America and the Internationaux de France. They were runners-up in the 2019 U.S. championships and fifth this year, when they revived their “Lion King” free skate.

The Denney-Frazier pair took an unusual path to figure skating, starting as roller skaters.

The Knierims won their third U.S. championship in January but handed their slot in the world championships to Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson when Chris Knierim, struggling with his form and depression, decided he was unable to continue beyond the Four Continents Championship. The world championships were later canceled due to the spread of the coronavirus.

READ: Resilient Knierims withdraw from world championships

The couple had earned attention for their romance and for their inspirational returns from illness and injury. Their U.S. championship win earlier this year was their third.

Skate America, the first event on the Grand Prix circuit, is scheduled to start Oct. 23 in Las Vegas.

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