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Lindsey Vonn returns to World Cup, but winning is not priority

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BAD KLEINKIRCHHEIM, Austria (AP) — After a four-week break from racing, Lindsey Vonn is returning to the Alpine skiing World Cup this weekend with an unusual mindset.

For the most successful female skier of all time, Vonn’s main priority at the first speed events of 2018 won’t be winning.

With only 40 days left until her season highlight, the Olympic downhill in PyeongChang, avoiding injuries is all that matters.

“I feel solid but my focus this season is on the Olympics. So I am not going to risk anything this weekend,” Vonn told The Associated Press on Friday after taking part in a shortened training session.

She was worried because the snow on parts of the Karnten-Franz Klammer course was still too weak after heavy rain this week and mild temperatures.

“The top is good, but the bottom is not safe to race,” she said.

Organizers swapped the program for this weekend by pushing back the downhill to Sunday and rescheduling a super-G for Saturday, as a downhill can be staged only after competitors have at least one training run on the entire course.

The Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA will air live coverage of each race at 4:30 and 5 a.m. ET, respectively, on Saturday and Sunday. It will also stream on the Olympic Channel app and OlympicChannel.com.

“I am also not sure why the super-G is first,” Vonn said. “Considering the snow conditions, it would be better to do the downhill first but, again, I don’t know. We haven’t inspected the bottom part of the course so I am not really sure what the reason behind it is.”

Vonn said she would make her own decision about racing or not after checking the course on Saturday, saying she would rather sit it out “if conditions aren’t good enough to run.”

Vonn badly injured her right knee landing in a patch of soft snow during the 2013 World Championships, which ultimately ruled the 2010 Olympic downhill champion out of the Sochi Games the following year.

It explains the 33-year-old American’s cautiousness going into what likely will be her last Olympics.

Her season so far has been rather rough.

Trying to improve her ranking ahead of the Olympic giant slalom, she failed to qualify for the second run of the season-opening GS in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 28.

Focusing on the speed events since, she landed in the safety netting at full speed during the first downhill in Lake Louise on Dec. 1, and finished only 12th in another downhill the next day.

She crashed again in a super-G on the third day of racing at the Canadian resort where she won 18 times in the past.

A week later, she jarred her back in a super-G in St. Moritz, Switzerland, completing the race in pain in 24th place.

Vonn hasn’t raced since Dec. 16 when she earned her 78th career win at a super-G in Val d’Isere, France.

The following day, she took part in the early morning inspection for another super-G at the resort but then decided against racing, citing a sore knee, and flew home.

“The last race in Val d’Isere I skied very well,” she said. “It still wasn’t my best but I had a good block at home in Colorado. I was able to do a lot of condition training and got some GS and slalom in as well.”

Vonn practicing slalom underlined her ambition to start in the Olympic super combined as well.

“I feel good, definitely,” Vonn said, adding the knee was hampering her “not more than usual. I feel decent.”

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Former ski jumper closer to Tour de France podium

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Slovenian Primoz Roglic, a former ski jumper, finished ahead of Tour de France leader Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome in Saturday’s Stage 14, moving eight seconds closer to a possible podium in Paris in eight days.

Nearly 20 minutes after Spain’s Omar Fraile won the stage, Roglic finished eight seconds ahead of Thomas, Froome and Tom Dumoulin, the top three in the Tour standings.

Roglic went from 2:46 behind Thomas to 2:38 behind and moved to 48 seconds behind Dumoulin for third. The 28-year-old Roglic won a junior world title in ski jumping in the team event in 2007 before switching to cycling.

Roglic won a stage in his Tour debut in 2017 and finished 38th overall, then took time trial silver at the world championships.

This season, Roglic won the Tour de Romandie and the Tour of the Basque Country. Now, he’s eyeing Slovenia’s best overall finish in Tour history. Right now, that distinction is shared by Tadej Valjavec and Jani Brajkovic, who were ninth in 2008 and 2012.

The Tour continues Sunday with stage 15, featuring a category-one climb but a descent to the finish, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold (full broadcast schedule here).

While the Welshman Thomas is attempting to win the Tour for the first time, the Kenyan-born Froome is aiming for a record-tying fifth victory in cycling’s biggest race.

Stage 15 from Millau to Carcassonne is another hilly leg before the race’s second rest day on Monday. Then come the Pyrenees and a possibly decisive individual time trial in the penultimate stage before the traditional finish in Paris next weekend.

“We have a plan for the first mountain stage,” Thomas said. “If we go against each other and Dumoulin wins then we would look really stupid. It is the first time I have raced for three weeks as a GC (general classification) leader, so it is an unknown for me.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Paul Chelimo grab defining wins at London Diamond League

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Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce had not raced in the Diamond League in two years. Paul Chelimo had never won at an international meet.

Both grabbed wins at the first day of a Diamond League stop at the London Olympic Stadium on Saturday.

Fraser-Pryce, the two-time Olympic 100m champion who missed 2017 due to pregnancy, broke 11 seconds for the first time as a mother. She won in 10.98 seconds, edging American Dezerea Bryant by .06.

“I cannot complain because I haven’t raced for ages and I’m happy that the run today was under 11 seconds,” said Fraser-Pryce, who has raced in smaller meets this spring and summer. “It’s hard work racing after having a child, but it’s not as though it’s anything I’m not used to. I’m used to sacrificing and making sure that my path is right. Being a mother is my first priority and to come back and be flexible with my training is wonderful and I’m so excited about next year now.”

The field lacked the world’s top sprinters — like Rio gold medalist Elaine Thompson and world champ Tori Bowie — but the Jamaican Fraser-Pryce impressed with the fastest time in the heats an hour before the final.

In the men’s 100m, meet headliner Christian Coleman withdrew before the heats with a hamstring injury. Coleman, the 2017 World silver medalist, missed all June meets with a hamstring injury. Countryman Ronnie Baker won in 9.90 in his absence, .02 off the fastest time in the world this season that he shares with Noah Lyles.

Full London results are here. The two-day meet concludes Sunday, live on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA at 9 a.m. ET and NBC Sports Gold at 8:45.

In other events, Olympic silver medalist Paul Chelimo became the second U.S. man to win a Diamond League 5000m. Chelimo surged past Ethiopian Yomif Kejelecha in the last straightaway for his first international win, according to Tilastopaja.org. He clocked 13:14.01 with world champion Muktar Edris of Ethiopia grabbing second in 13:14.35 ahead of Kejelcha.

The only other American man to win a Diamond League 5000m was Ben True in 2014.

The 2012 Olympic 400m champion Kirani James finished third in his first Diamond League race since his Rio Olympic silver medal. James, of Grenada, missed time after being diagnosed with Graves’ Disease.

James led up until about 300 meters and faded in the last straightaway as Qatar’s Abdalleleh Haroun won in 44.07. James crossed in 44.50, just off his 2018 best time of 44.35 that ranks him 10th in the world this season.

In the pole vault, Sam Kendricks outdueled Renaud Lavillenie, clearing 5.92 meters to better the Frenchman for a 12th time in their last 15 head-to-heads, according to Tilastopaja.

U.S. champion Shamier Little outleaned Jamaican Janieve Russell to win the 400m hurdles by .01 in 53.95. Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad was third in 54.86.

“I put my soul into that lean,” Little said, according to meet organizers.

Little, the 2015 World silver medalist, has been best in the event in the second half of the season, following her June national title with two straight Diamond League wins. The fastest woman this year is American Sydney McLaughlin (52.75), who appears to have ended her season at the NCAA Championships in early June.

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