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Top U.S. downhiller Steven Nyman to miss Olympics

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Steven Nyman was named to his fourth Olympic team last week, but he won’t be competing in PyeongChang.

The 35-year-old tore his right ACL in downhill training in Germany last week, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

Nyman blew out his left knee in a downhill race crash at the same track one year ago today (video here).

“I was really looking forward to not only representing our country at my fourth Olympics but trying to contend for a medal,” Nyman said in a press release. “The good news is that this injury is much more straightforward than last year, and will be much easier to come back from.

“If all goes well I should be back on snow for regular summer training camps, and in full form by the start of next season. My focus is now on next year’s World Cup season and the 2019 World Championships [in Are, Sweden].”

Nyman joins fellow World Cup downhill winner Travis Ganong in missing PyeongChang due to a torn ACL. Ganong suffered his injury last month.

Nyman and Ganong have combined for 15 World Cup downhill podiums. The only other active U.S. man with a Word Cup downhill podium is Sochi giant slalom champion Ted Ligety with one.

The last time the U.S. Olympic roster had zero men with a World Cup downhill podium was 1980.

Nyman’s best Olympic finish was a tie for 19th in the Torino 2006 downhill.

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Well, that didn’t go as planned. After an uneventful fall in Garmisch three days ago my knee hurt but I thought I would be fine. I later learned I tore my ACL on my right leg! It was 364 days from my big crash last year. I have already gone under surgery and am on the mend and will miss the Olympics. At least I have this little one with me. I first and foremost want to thank my lady @ccmoats for being by my side. Dr. Fink, Orr, Viola, Cooley, @thekneedoc , Evans. @tundra_runner @_katie_pt_ for all the help. I also want to thank my partners/sponsors for their support. I have all intention to race in the 2019 World Champs in Sweden. And lastly I want to wish all my #teamUSA and fellow athletes good luck at the Games! I wish I could compete by your side. #AmericanDownhiller like to the story in my bio.

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World Cup Alpine season opener gets green light

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After checking the snow on the Rettenbach glacier in Soelden, Austria, FIS officials announced Thursday that the traditional World Cup season opener is set to go ahead as planned Oct. 26-27 with men’s and women’s giant slalom races.

Current conditions at Soelden show a solid 30 inches of snow at the summit. The race finishes at an altitude of 2,670 meters (8,760 feet), far above the currently snowless village.

The first races of the season are never guaranteed to have enough snow, though last year’s men’s race at Soelden had the opposite problem, being canceled when a storm blew through with heavy snowfall and high winds. 

France’s Tessa Worley won the women’s race last year ahead of Italy’s Frederica Brignone and U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who would go on to dominate the rest of the World Cup season.

The Soelden weekend is followed by three dormant weeks until the season resumes Nov. 23-24 in Levi, Finland. The World Cup circuits then switch to North America. The men will run speed events Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Lake Louise, Alberta, then head to Beaver Creek, Colo., for more speed events and a giant slalom Dec. 6-8. The women run slalom and giant slalom Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Killington, Vt., and head to Lake Louise the next weekend.

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Olympic marathon and race walk move from Tokyo to Sapporo draws some pushback

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In the wake of a dropout-plagued set of world championship endurance races in Qatar, moving the 2020 Olympic marathons and race walks from Tokyo to the cooler venue of Sapporo is a quick fix for one problem, pending the potential for untimely heat waves.

But the move has drawn some opposition for a variety of reasons.

First, many organizers and politicians appear to have been caught by surprise. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, was “taken aback” and Sapporo’s mayor, Katsuhiro Akimoto, learned about the move from the media, Kyodo News reported. Koike even sarcastically suggested that the races could move all the way northward to islands disputed by Russia and Japan.

South African sports scientist Ross Tucker suggested that running in heat and humidity poses an interesting challenge for athletes, some of whom may be able to catch up with faster runners by preparing for the conditions.

British marathoner Mara Yamauchi made a similar point, saying the move was unfair to those who already were preparing for the heat, humidity and other conditions.

Belgian marathoner Koen Naert said he will make the best of the change but complained that some of his preparation and every runner’s logistical planning would no longer apply.

The angriest athlete may be Canadian walker Evan Dunfee, who placed fourth in the 2016 Olympic 50km race and nearly claimed bronze as a Canadian appeal was upheld but then rejected. He says runners and walkers can beat the conditions if they prepare, which many athletes did not do for the world championships in Qatar.

“So why do we cater to the ill prepared?” Dunfee asked on Twitter.

The move also takes athletes out of the main Olympic city and takes away the traditional, tough less frequent in modern years, finish in the Olympic stadium.

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