Erik Guay becomes oldest world champion in Alpine skiing history

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ST. MORITZ, Switzerland (AP) — Erik Guay led the veteran Canadians over the favored Norwegians in the super-G on Wednesday and became the oldest gold medalist at the world ski championships.

The 35-year-old Guay beat Olympic super-G champion Kjetil Jansrud by 0.45 seconds – his first victory in almost three years.

Guay triumphed less than two weeks after a spectacular crash, when he flew 60 meters (yards) in the air off a jump in a treacherous World Cup downhill.

“It’s incredible. I’m as happy as can be,” said Guay, putting his win down to “forgetting about everything and having a fun race.”

It was a banner day for Canada after Norway seemed sure to also take bronze in an event it dominates. But late-starting Manny Osborne-Paradis edged World Cup champion Aleksander Aamodt Kilde off the podium.

On his 33rd birthday, Osborne-Paradis claimed his first career championship medal, trailing Guay by 0.51. He was serenaded by a finish-area crowd, and later was hugged by his mother.

Guay added super-G gold to his downhill title from the 2011 worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It was at the same German course last month that he wiped out in a twisting fall.

“I was lucky to walk away with fairly minor injuries,” said Guay, competing at his seventh worlds. “I can see (the crash) on TV no problem, but in my head I can’t really remember going off the jump and having that fear.”

There were more jumps to handle Wednesday on a hill that launched racers airborne, testing their balance and ability to improvise through an unfamiliar gate-setting.

Though Norway’s men won five of the past seven Olympic titles in super-G, the nation’s winless streak at the worlds was extended to nine.

Jansrud and Kilde were 1-2 in the leader’s box, separated by just 0.09 after Kilde’s wild ride down the final slope, and celebrated by bumping fists in the finish area.

At that moment, Guay was about to start wearing bib No. 14 and raced down leading Jansrud at every time check.

“Erik today showed us how it’s supposed to be done. I’m not feeling any disappointment over that,” said Jansrud, the youngest of the medalists at 31.

Guay took the record for oldest world champion from Hannes Reichelt, who set it by winning the super-G two years ago in Beaver Creek, Colorado. The Austrian placed 10th on Wednesday.

Though it has been seven years since Guay won a season-long World Cup title in super-G, his third-place finish in December in Val Gardena, Italy, hinted at his potential. He also placed third in St. Moritz in a World Cup downhill last year.

Osborne-Paradis has not finished on a World Cup downhill podium in almost two years, and not since November 2009 in super-G. He began this season wearing bib numbers in the 50s as an unconsidered longshot.

Wearing No. 26, still outside the top-ranked group, he was inspired by his long-time friend.

“I got pretty fired up because of Erik,” said Osborne-Paradis, who returned to form three months after becoming a father. “It was more intense having a kid, I can tell you. You can’t unsee those things.”

It was also a sweet result for the Swiss director of Canada’s team, Martin Rufener, the former head coach of his home nation’s men.

Switzerland’s best on Wednesday was eighth-place Carlo Janka, trailing Guay by 0.99. Its main pre-race hope, Beat Feuz, was 12th, and now has Jansrud and the revived Canadians carrying momentum into Saturday’s marquee downhill.

Alpine worlds continue with the women’s super combined featuring Lindsey Vonn on Friday on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

MORE: Alpine Worlds broadcast schedule

Mark Spitz takes on Katie Ledecky’s challenge

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Swimmers around the world took on Katie Ledecky‘s milk-glass challenge since it became a social media sensation, including one of the few Americans with more Olympic gold medals.

Mark Spitz, who won seven golds at the 1972 Munich Games, took 10 strokes in an at-home pool while perfectly balancing a glass of what appeared to be water on his head.

“Would’ve been faster with the ‘stache, @markspitzusa, but I still give this 7 out of 7 gold medals,” Ledecky tweeted.

Spitz joined fellow Olympic champions Susie O’Neill of Australia and American Matt Grevers in posting similar videos to what Ledecky first shared Monday.

In Tokyo next year, Ledecky can pass Spitz’s career gold-medal count of nine if she wins all of her expected events — 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles and the 4x200m free relay.

Then she would trail one athlete from any country in any sport — Michael Phelps, the 23-time gold medalist who has yet to post video of swimming while balancing a glass on his head.

MORE: Spitz puts Michael Phelps’ career in perspective

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Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

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