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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

Ehsan Hadadi, Iran’s first Olympic track and field medalist, has coronavirus

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Ehsan Hadadi, Iran’s lone Olympic track and field medalist, tested positive for the coronavirus, according to World Athletics and an Iranian news agency.

“We’ve received word from several Asian journalists that Iranian discus thrower Ehsan Hadadi has tested positive for coronavirus,” according to World Athletics. “[Hadadi] trains part of the year in the US, but was home in Tehran when he contracted the virus.”

Hadadi, 35, became the first Iranian to earn an Olympic track and field medal when he took silver in the discus at the 2012 London Games. Hadadi led through four of six rounds before being overtaken by German Robert Harting, who edged the Iranian by three and a half inches.

He was eliminated in qualifying at the Rio Olympics and placed seventh at last fall’s world championships in Doha.

Jordan Larson preps for her last Olympics, one year later than expected

Jordan Larson
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Whether the Tokyo Olympics would have been this summer or in 2021, Jordan Larson knew this: It will mark her final tournament with the U.S. volleyball team, should she make the roster.

“I’m just not getting any younger,” said Larson, a 33-year-old outside hitter. “I’ve been playing consistently overseas for 12 years straight with no real offseason.

“I also have other endeavors in my life that I want to see. Getting married, having children, those kinds of things. The older I get, the more challenging those become.”

Larson, who debuted on the national team in 2009, has been a leader the last two Olympic cycles. She succeeded Christa Harmotto Dietzen as captain after the Rio Games. Larson started every match at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

As long as Larson was in the building, the U.S. never had to worry about the outside hitter position, said two-time Olympian and NBC Olympics volleyball analyst Kevin Barnett.

“She played as if she belonged from the start,” he said. “They will miss her all-around capability. They’ll miss her ability to make everyone around her better. She’s almost like having a libero who can hit.”

Karch Kiraly, the Olympic indoor and beach champion who took over as head coach after the 2012 Olympics, gushed about her court vision.

“It’s a little dated now, but somebody like Wayne Gretzky just saw things that other people didn’t see on the hockey rink,” Kiraly said in 2018. “And I remember reading about him one time, and the quote from an opposing goalie was, oh my god, here he comes, what does he see that I don’t see right now? She sees things sooner than most people.”

Larson grew up in Hooper, Neb., (population 830) and starred at the University of Nebraska. She was a three-time All-American who helped the team win a national title as a sophomore. She had the opportunity to leave Nebraska and try out for the Olympics in 2008 but chose to remain at school for her final season.

She earned the nickname “Governor” as a Cornhusker State sports icon.

Larson helped the U.S. win its first major international title at the 2014 World Championship. She was also part of the program’s two stingers — defeats in the 2012 Olympic final and 2016 Olympic semifinals, both matches where the U.S. won the first set (and convincingly in 2012).

“It just gives me chills thinking about it now,” Larson said of the Rio Olympic semifinals, where Serbia beat the U.S. 15-13 in the fifth. “That team, we put in so much. Not just on the court but off the court working on culture and working on how are we best for each other. How can we be the best team? How can we out-team people? Certain teams have a better one player that’s a standout that we maybe didn’t have or don’t have. So how can we out-team the other teams? We had just put in so much work that was just heartbreaking.”

Larson and the Americans rebounded to win the bronze-medal match two days later.

“I don’t know anybody that didn’t have their heart ripped out. It was just a soul-crusher of a match,” Kiraly said of the semifinal. “More meaningful was what a great response everybody, including Jordan, mounted to the disappointment of that loss.”

The U.S. took fifth at worlds in 2018 and is now ranked second in the world behind China.

Larson spent the past club season in Shanghai. The campaign ended in mid-January. She hadn’t heard anything about the coronavirus when she took her scheduled flight back to California, learning days later that LAX started screening for it. Now, she’s working out from her garage.

Larson is in line to become the fifth-oldest U.S. Olympic women’s volleyball player in history, according Olympedia and the OlyMADMen.

Her decade of experience could go a long way to help the next generation of outside hitters, led by three-time NCAA champion and Sullivan Award winner Kathryn Plummer.

“If you’re coming into the USA program as an outside hitter, in the next year or the quad or the quad after that,” Barnett said, “the measuring stick is going to be Jordan Larson.”

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