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Allyson Felix-Caster Semenya clash unlikely for world championships

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Don’t expect to see Allyson Felix and Caster Semenya go head-to-head at the world championships this summer.

The Olympic 800m champion Semenya is “pretty much focusing” on the 800m this season “at this stage,” her coach, Jean Verster, said Monday.

“We’ll see later on in the season because we are planning to hopefully run a few other distances if possible [before worlds in August],” Verster said by phone. “Maybe just a few 400s and a couple of 1500s. We’ll see how it goes, but at this stage the focus is purely on the 800m [for worlds].”

Semenya talked last July of entering both the 400m and 800m in Rio, but she ended up racing solely the 800m at her first Olympics. Semenya easily won gold in 1:55.28, a national record.

Three weeks after the Olympics, Semenya lowered her 400m personal best to 50.40 seconds in the Diamond League season finale in September. She came from behind to beat the Olympic third- and fourth-place finishers.

Neither Olympic gold medalist Shaunae Miller (49.44 in Rio) nor silver medalist Felix (49.51) was in that race.

Semenya has already raced the 400m at two meets this season, clocking 51.60 and 51.84, comparable to her times at the same April meets last year. She ranks No. 9 in the world for 2017.

Then last Friday, Semenya dominated the Diamond League season-opening 800m in 1:56.61. Semenya has never run faster before the month of July. She is entered in the Prefontaine Classic 800m on May 27, her first race in the U.S. since 2011.

Verster said Semenya was behind schedule compared to last year due to off-track commitments.

“Seeing this year as a fun year and not as much pressure as last year with the Olympics,” he said. “At this stage we kind of catch up a little bit in terms of the training. In that sense, we were extremely happy with the way we started in Doha.”

Neither Miller nor Felix has raced a 400m since Rio.

Miller has said she plans to race the 200m and 400m at worlds in London in August.

Felix has a bye into the worlds 400m as defending world champion and plans to race the shorter sprints at the U.S. Championships next month. It hasn’t been decided if Felix hopes to double at worlds.

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Justin Schoenefeld gets U.S.’ first men’s aerials World Cup win in 4 years

Justin Schoenefeld
U.S. Ski & Snowboard
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Justin Schoenefeld ended a four-year U.S. men’s aerials drought with his first World Cup win Saturday in Belarus.

Schoenfeld, 21, hit a double full-full-full in the super final to beat a field that included world champion Maxim Burov of Russia. Burov was fourth, one spot behind another American, Chris Lillis. Full results are here.

“I’m pretty speechless right now,” Schoenefeld said, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “I’m just shocked. It just all came so quick, all of a sudden the two finals were over, and I was on top of the podium. I probably landed two of my training jumps yesterday, but I managed to land all of my comp jumps down to my feet.”

Schoenefeld’s best previous World Cup finish was fourth, in Belarus last season.

Lillis earned the U.S.’ last World Cup men’s aerials victory on Feb. 20, 2016, also in Belarus. The four-year gap between wins marked the longest for the U.S. men since aerials was added as an Olympic medal sport in 1994.

Schoenefeld also became the first American of either gender to win a World Cup aerials event in two years, since Kiley McKinnon on Jan. 6, 2018. That gap was the longest for the U.S. since 2005.

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Kaillie Humphries wins bobsled world title in first season for U.S.

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Two-time Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries won a bobsled world title in her first season since switching allegiance from Canada to the U.S., ending recent German dominance.

Humphries, with brakewoman Lauren Gibbs, edged German junior world champ Kim Kalicki by .37 of a second combining times from four runs between Friday and Saturday in Altenberg, Germany.

“I love this track. It’s very challenging, one of the hardest in the world,” Humphries said, according to U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton. “It demands a lot of focus, a lot of respect every minute you’re on that track. So to be able to win here, I know the Germans and the spectators, everybody, have worked so hard and this week, no exceptions. I’m proud of all of the girls.”

Canadian Christine de Bruin took bronze for a second straight year. Full results are here.

Humphries, who married a former U.S. bobsledder, was released by Canada in September after filing verbal abuse and harassment claims against a coach, saying she no longer felt safe with the program. As a Canadian, Humphries won 2010 and 2014 Olympic titles, plus 2012 and 2013 World titles.

Humphries joined German Sandra Kiriasis as the only female drivers to win three world titles. She is already the only female driver with multiple Olympic titles.

German Mariama Jamanka, the reigning Olympic champion and defending world champion, finished fourth in Altenberg.

Triple U.S. Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor didn’t compete as she sits out the season due to pregnancy. Meyers Taylor and Gibbs teamed for silver in PyeongChang.

The world championships continue Sunday with the conclusion of the two-man competition. German Francesco Friedrich, eyeing his sixth straight world title, leads after the first two of four runs.

A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

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