Italians sweep downhill on tough day for Lindsey Vonn, U.S.

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Sofia Goggia led an Italian podium sweep of a World Cup downhill, while Lindsey Vonn and the Americans all finished outside the top 10 on Sunday.

Goggia, 25, notched her first victory this season and since winning both races at the PyeongChang Olympic venue last March among 13 podiums total in the campaign.

She prevailed by 1.10 seconds over countrywoman Federica Brignone.

Nadia Fanchini was third on a tricky, shortened course in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria.

Laurenne Ross was the top American in 13th, with Vonn skiing conservatively for 27th place, 3.03 seconds slower than Goggia. Vonn waved off after finishing her run.

Full results are here.

“I knew it was going to be a struggle,” Vonn said. “Really poor visibility and pretty icy and bumpy conditions. … I really had no grip on the ice. Felt like I was skiing on marbles.

“This course takes a lot of aggression and really willing to risk everything. I’m just not willing to risk everything right now. I’ve been waiting eight years for the Olympics. I’m not necessarily disappointed in my result because it honestly doesn’t matter right now. What matters is that I’m healthy, and I didn’t end my season this weekend.”

Tough snow conditions dogged the venue all week, with one training run canceled and another shortened before racing started with a super-G on Saturday.

Another downhill training run was squeezed in hours before Sunday morning’s event.

Vonn didn’t commit to racing either day until seeing the course conditions. She was ninth in Saturday’s super-G, which marked her second-best result in eight races this season (one victory).

Ross’ 13th-place finish Sunday can be considered a bright spot.

The Sochi Olympian raced downhill, scared, for the first time since blowing out her right knee in a March 27 crash.

“These are the most difficult conditions I’ve skied in since I’ve been injured,” Ross said. “I definitely had a lot of doubt and fear an anxiety. … It didn’t feel good, but I suppose nobody’s run felt that great.”

The World Cup moves to Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, next weekend, with Vonn and World Cup overall leader Mikaela Shiffrin headlining.

They are the final races before the full U.S. Olympic Alpine team will be named.

Vonn, Shiffrin, Resi Stiegler and Megan McJames have already qualified for the team.

The big-name question mark is Julia Mancuso, who has raced twice since March 2015 due to hip problems, finishing 42nd and 45th in December super-Gs.

Mancuso, 33, is the most decorated U.S. female Olympic skier with four medals.

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Chinese figure skating judges banned for biased Olympic scoring

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Two Chinese figure skating judges were suspended by the International Skating Union for biased judging at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Chen Weiguang and Huang Feng had “preferential marking” for top Chinese skaters Jin Boyang (fourth place in PyeongChang) and the silver medalist pairs’ team of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, respectively, according to the ISU.

Chen was banned two years and excluded from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Huang got a one-year ban.

Chen awarded her highest grades of execution scores of the men’s competition to Jin, as well as her second-highest program components scores, trailing only gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu. Both sets of scores, in both the short and long programs, were out of line with the other eight judges.

“There is evidence of preference for the Chinese skater and prejudice against his strongest competitors,” an ISU report read. “Her marks were completely unrealistic.”

The pairs’ judge Huang “obviously favored his pair also vis-à-vis the other top candidates for the Olympic gold medal,” the ISU said in a report, referencing inflated scores for Sui and Han and lower scores for gold and bronze medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada.

Huang was warned one month before the Olympics by the ISU for biased judging at the December 2017 Grand Prix Final pairs’ event.

Both suspensions are subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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Javier Fernandez to skip Grand Prix, still compete next season

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Javier Fernandez, who in PyeongChang became the first Spanish Olympic figure skating medalist, will skip the fall Grand Prix series but return for January’s European Championships, which could be his final competition.

Europeans will be Fernandez’s focus for the season, his agent said Tuesday.

Fernandez, 26, added an Olympic bronze medal to his 2015 and 2016 World titles. He has said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. But Fernandez did not say he would retire after the Winter Games, though he did skip the world championships in March.

Fernandez now plans to compete in his 13th straight European Championships in Minsk in January. He won the last six titles. It’s unknown if he will continue on to the world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March.

In Fernandez’s absence, the top male singles skaters in the fall Grand Prix season should be double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno and American Nathan Chen, who was fifth at the Olympics after a disastrous short program but ran away with March’s world title by the largest margin in history.

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