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Erik Guay, world champion from Canada, retires rather than ski farewell season

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Erik Guay, the most successful Canadian male Alpine skier at major events with two world titles, retired two days before what was to be the start of his farewell season.

“It’s been on my mind for a little while now, but there was a lot of things that were tugging me in different directions,” Guay said Thursday, two days before a World Cup downhill in Lake Louise, Alberta.

The 37-year-old noted the difficulty of being away from his wife and four daughters, plus a lack of competitiveness. Guay raced twice last season — 12th and 32nd in speed races — and missed the PyeongChang Olympics with a back injury. He was 69th in the first downhill training run of the season Wednesday.

“It’s a sport that involves a lot of risk,” Guay said. “I’m willing to put that risk out there if it’s for a shot at the podium, but the moment that I’m not competitive anymore, I think it doesn’t make any sense to continue to risk it.”

Guay said his decision was affected by longtime Canadian teammate Manny Osborne-Paradis‘ training crash Wednesday. Osborne-Paradis suffered what is believed to be a broken leg, according to Alpine Canada.

Guay started three spots after Osborne-Paradis in the training run.

“I probably made [the decision to retire] in the start gate,” Guay said. “When Manny crashed right away, I thought, you know what, I should just go and take the chair lift down. So it took everything for me to push out of the start gate.

“All I could think about yesterday was Manny. … I couldn’t focus or charge the way that I wanted to, and I think that’s when I kind of knew it was time.”

Guay is a three-time Olympian with a best finish of fourth in the 2006 Olympic super-G.

The Québécois’ best races came at world championships, where he won the downhill in 2011 and the super-G in 2017. His title two years ago in St. Moritz, Switzerland, made him the oldest world champ in any Alpine event.

Guay also won five World Cup races among 25 podiums, the latter a Canadian record.

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Asbel Kiprop, Olympic 1500m champ, banned 4 years

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Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic 1500m champion and a three-time world champ, was banned four years after testing positive for EPO in November 2017, according to track and field’s doping watchdog organization.

The ban is backdated to Feb. 3, 2018, when the 29-year-old was provisionally suspended after the failed test.

Kiprop repeatedly denied doping since last May, when he first acknowledged the positive test. Most recently, a 3,000-word defense from his lawyer was posted on Kiprop’s Facebook page.

Kiprop’s defenses included saying he was a victim of extortion and that he was offered “a reward” of becoming an anti-doping ambassador if he admitted guilt. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the IAAF’s independent organization to monitor doping and corruption, denied the latter last May.

A disciplinary panel dismissed six defenses from exonerating him, including the possibility his sample was spiked, in handing out the four-year ban.

Kiprop, the pre-eminent 1500m runner of the last decade, can appeal the ban.

At 19, he finished second in the Beijing Olympic 1500m but was upgraded to gold a year later after Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi failed a drug test. He is the youngest Olympic 1500m medalist of all time, according to the OlyMADMen.

Kiprop went on to earn three straight world titles in the 1500m in 2011, 2013 and 2015, matching the feats of retired legends Noureddine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj.

He struggled in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, finishing last in the London final with a hamstring injury and sixth in the Rio final won by American rival Matthew Centrowitz.

Kiprop has targeted El Guerrouj’s world record of 3:26:00, missing the mark by .69 of a second in 2015.

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Maggie Nichols is second woman in 20 years to repeat as NCAA all-around champ

Maggie Nichols
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Oklahoma junior and world champion gymnast Maggie Nichols became the first woman to repeat as NCAA all-around champion in 12 years, returning from a heel injury to compete on all four events for the first time since January on Friday.

Nichols, a Rio Olympic hopeful before being beset by a torn meniscus in 2016, joined 2004 Olympic silver medalist Courtney Kupets as the only women to win back-to-back NCAA all-arounds in the 2000s.

A junior, Nichols can next year join Jenny Hansen as the only women to three-peat in NCAA history.

Oklahoma goes for a third team title in four years on Saturday night against UCLA (featuring Olympic champions Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross), LSU and Denver.

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NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Individual Results
All-Around
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma) — 39.7125
2. Lexy Ramler (Minnesota) — 39.6625
2. Kyla Ross (UCLA) — 39.6625
4. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 39.65
5. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 39.6

Vault
1. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 9.95
1. Derrian Gobourne (Auburn)
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)

Uneven Bars
1. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 9.95

Balance Beam
1. Natalie Wojcik (Michigan) — 9.95

Floor Exercise
1. Alicia Boren (Florida) — 9.95
1. Lynnzee Brown (Denver)
1. Brenna Dowell (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)