Ted Ligety, back from injuries, notches first podium in two years

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Olympic giant slalom champion Ted Ligety ended the longest U.S. men’s podium drought in 19 years and a personal drought of more than two years on Sunday.

Just in time with the Olympics in two weeks.

Ligety, who ended his last two seasons early due to injuries, finished third in the last World Cup giant slalom before the Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

Austrian Marcel Hirscher won by 1.57 seconds over countryman Manuel Feller. Ligety was 1.69 back.

Full results are here.

Hirscher, the overwhelming Olympic favorite, has won four of the five traditional GS races this season and made all 13 World Cup GS podiums since the start of the 2016-17 season.

“The only thing I can do there [at the Olympics] is losing,” Hirscher, the six-time World Cup overall champion whose only missing prize is Olympic gold, laughed after his 10th win this season, “because everyone is expecting that I’m going to win there.”

Hirscher also won his 55th career World Cup race, passing countryman Hermann Maier for solo second all-time on the men’s list behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark (86 victories).

It was Ligety’s first podium since Dec. 5, 2015.

Ligety dealt with myriad injuries since winning his second Olympic gold in Sochi and a third straight world title in the giant slalom in 2015.

The 33-year-old suffered three herniated disks in his back and tore a hip labrum in 2015. Then he tore his right ACL in training on Jan. 27, 2016. He underwent season-ending back surgery on Jan. 25, 2017.

The last U.S. man to make a World Cup podium was Travis Ganong, who won a downhill in Garmisch on Jan. 27, 2017. Ganong is out for the season due to a December torn ACL.

“There’s still some things to do,” Ligety said, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “It’s nice that we have a couple of weeks here before the giant slalom at the Olympics, so we can figure out those next steps. We’re still a little bit off, and I have to find that next step and be really fast. I’m not going to sit here and be psyched on this — I’m going to move forward and keep working.”

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Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

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