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Lindsey Vonn delays retirement after training crash

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Lindsey Vonn is pushing back her retirement by eight months after a training crash and knee injury kept her from competing at her favorite venue this week.

Vonn, who said last month that she would retire after this season ends in March, now plans to race at one World Cup stop next season at Lake Louise, Alberta, traditionally held the first weekend of December.

“I’m thinking at this point that I need to come back,” Vonn said in a video published Friday. “I know I’ve said many times that I’m not going to come back because my body can’t handle it anymore, but I was also planning on racing Lake Louise.”

Vonn said she sprained a ligament, bruised a bone and hyperextended a knee in a Nov. 19 training crash. She announced last week that the injury will prevent her from her planned season debut in Lake Louise this weekend.

In Friday’s video, Vonn said she would probably be able to compete in a few weeks. That means she will likely miss the first six of 17 scheduled speed races this season, also sitting out downhills and super-Gs in Switzerland and France the next two weekends. The first speed races of 2019 are Jan. 12-13 in Austria.

The absence hurts her chance of breaking the World Cup career wins record of 86 held by retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark. Vonn is four wins shy. When healthy, Vonn has averaged about seven wins per season in recent years.

Vonn has experienced the most success at Lake Louise, winning 18 times in 44 World Cup starts. It’s such a strong record that many have dubbed the venue Lake Lindsey.

“Whether I break the World Cup win record or not … if I don’t break it at the end of this year, it doesn’t matter,” Vonn said. “That really has nothing to do with me wanting to race in Lake Louise again. For me, Lake Louise has always been my spot.

“The whole point of having one last season is to have one last season, to race in every single race one last time, to make those final memories, and because I’m injured now, I can’t have that. I feel like I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t take that one last chance to push out of the starting gate in Lake Louise.”

Vonn said she cried in the hospital room after learning she would not race in Lake Louise this week.

“Hopefully I break the record this season, and I don’t even have to think about next year in Lake Louise,” she said. “I don’t want this record to determine the level of success that I’ve had in my career. … I think people forget that I have 20 more wins than any other female. … The record will not define me.”

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Federica Brignone passes Mikaela Shiffrin for World Cup overall lead

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Italian Federica Brignone passed an absent Mikaela Shiffrin for the World Cup overall standings lead by winning a combined in Switzerland on Sunday.

Brignone prevailed by .92 of a second adding times from super-G and slalom runs in Crans-Montana. Full results are here.

Brignone moved 73 points ahead of Shiffrin in the overall through 29 of 40 scheduled races. A race winner receives 100 points on a descending scale through the 30th-place finisher. The season runs through March 22.

Shiffrin, the three-time reigning World Cup overall champion, has not competed since the unexpected death of her father on Feb. 2. She has not announced if or when she will return this season.

Brignone, 29, is having a career season with five wins and 10 podiums across four disciplines.

Brignone’s best previous World Cup overall standings finish was fifth. She earned giant slalom medals at the 2018 Olympics (bronze) and 2011 World Championships (silver).

She could become Italy’s first female World Cup overall champion. The last Italian male winner was Alberto Tomba in 1995.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves to La Thuile, Italy, for a super-G and a combined next Saturday and Sunday.

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Jade Carey on brink of becoming first gymnast to qualify for U.S. Olympic team

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The U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials aren’t until late June, but Jade Carey is in position to qualify for the Tokyo Games in March.

Carey, seeking an individual Olympic gymnastics spot outside of the team competition, earned the maximum points in a World Cup series that is one path to Olympic qualification.

Carey has three wins each on floor exercise and vault with two World Cups left in March. Carey will mathematically clinch an Olympic spot if no other gymnasts win three times on one of the apparatuses to force a tiebreaker.

So far, no other gymnast has two wins on floor. One gymnast has two wins on vault. A gymnast’s top three finishes across the eight-stop series count in Olympic qualifying. If Carey finishes atop the floor or vault standings, she goes to the Olympics.

Carey picked up those third wins on floor and vault at the sixth World Cup in Melbourne, Australia, this weekend.

The one downside to qualifying this route: Carey would not be able to compete in the team competition at the Olympics. Those four spots will be determined at and after June’s trials in St. Louis, with Simone Biles likely grabbing one of them.

“I knew I would be giving up being on the team,” Carey said in October of going the World Cup route, “but I think, for me, it made sense to just go for it.”

Carey is a world medalist on vault and floor, but she doesn’t have the all-around credentials of Biles and some other U.S. gymnasts.

Olympic team event roster sizes were cut from five to four for Tokyo, putting a greater onus on all-around prowess given a team must put three gymnasts on each apparatus in the Olympic final.

The U.S. is the deepest country in women’s gymnastics, so the only truly safe pick to make the four-woman Olympic team event roster is Biles.

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