AP

Max Franz wins Beaver Creek super-G

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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (AP) — Now this was a party: the five of them crammed onto the stage to spray sparkling wine and pose for a few pictures.

Rarely has a podium been this crowded — or this lively.

Austrian Max Franz conquered the snow and fog Saturday for his first World Cup super-G victory in a tightly contested affair that resulted in five racers sharing the top three spots.

Franz finished in 1 minute, 1.91 seconds to hold off Mauro Caviezel of Switzerland by 0.33 seconds. There was a three-way tie for third among Norwegian teammates Aksel Lund Svindal and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde and Italy’s Dominik Paris. The trio was 0.41 seconds behind.

After the race, the celebration kicked up a notch.

“It’s the first time I’ve been on the podium with five guys,” the veteran Svindal said. “This is better. We don’t have to fight. Let’s tie and get everyone up there and it’s a party.”

The only other time a World Cup race ended with three racers tied for third place was a downhill in 1973, according to information provided by the International Ski Federation.

“It’s crazy, yeah?” Paris said.

A crazy day all around.

Racing was delayed an hour as course workers cleared a considerable amount of snow from the track. With snowflakes still falling, Franz found just a little more speed than everyone else.

For that, he credits a mistake near the top when he went too straight into a turn.

“In my head, I made a mistake so I have to push more,” explained Franz, who won a downhill last weekend at Lake Louise. “The race was really good.”

This marked the second straight day Caviezel and Svindal wound up on the podium. They finished in the same spots during the downhill.

“It’s just great,” Caviezel said. “I don’t know what’s going on. It’s a good feeling.”

To pass the time during the delay, Svindal said a group of competitors played the card game “UNO.” He kept losing because, as he found out later, the dealers were good-naturedly stacking the deck.

“I was like, ‘Really, this is not my lucky day,’” Svindal said.

Turns out, it was. He had a little help, though.

The third racer on the hill, Kilde had a solid run and jumped on the radio to give Svindal a quick course report.

Kilde’s advice: Stay in the tracks.

“I told him what he should think about, and where the tricky spots were and where it’s fast,” Kilde said.

Svindal took mental notes and followed a similar line to wind up with the same time as Kilde and Paris.

“The conditions were actually not too bad,” Svindal said. “It was snowing like crazy for a while. When you have that good of a course crew, you actually feel confident that the skiing will actually be OK. You know they wouldn’t start a race unless the conditions were OK.”

Svindal has 15 top-three finishes at the World Cup stop.

“I’ve had a lot of success here,” he said. “Happy to be here every time.”

Svindal suffered a left thumb injury during a recent training crash that’s forced him to tape the ski pole to his glove. It means he can’t push off out of the starting gate.

No matter. Svindal still generates speed.

There were some surprising charges from back in the pack when the snow briefly stopped. Christoph Krenn of Austria began 35th and moved up to sixth, while Klemen Kosi of Slovenia started 33rd and finished ninth. American Steven Nyman had a big leap, too, going from No. 64 to 20th.

The top performance by the U.S. was turned in by Travis Ganong, who finished 15th as he steadily makes his way back from a knee injury.

“I just was ready to push harder and turn my brain off and just enjoy it,” Ganong explained. “That’s what it takes. It’s amazing how your mind can dictate how your results are. When you’re thinking too much, it gets in the way of skiing sometimes.”

April Ross, Alix Klineman back atop Olympic beach volleyball qualifying

April Ross, Alix Klineman
FIVB World Tour
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Two-time Olympic medalist April Ross and new partner Alix Klineman moved back on top of the U.S. Olympic beach volleyball qualifying standings by winning an event in Itapema, Brazil this week.

Ross, who split from Kerri Walsh Jennings in 2017, and Klineman beat Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes 25-23, 18-21, 15-10 in Sunday’s final for their third title in 11 FIVB World Tour tournaments together.

“Every victory is important, but this counts for more,” Klineman said, according to the FIVB. “We want to send a message and we want to be consistently the best.

Ross and Klineman supplanted Walsh Jennings and her new partner, Brooke Sweat, for the lead in the early U.S. Olympic qualifying rankings with still more than a year of events ahead.

1. Ross/Klineman – 3,240 (5 events played)
2. Walsh Jennings/Sweat – 3,100 (7 events)
3. Day/Flint – 2,180 (5 events)
4. Hughes/Ross — 2,000 (4 events)
5. Larsen/Stockman — 1,840 (5 events)
6. Sponcil/Claes — 1,600 (3 events)

Each team’s 12 best results from Sept. 1, 2018, to June 14, 2020, go into the Olympic qualifying rankings. That means Ross and Klineman are comfortably in front, having played two fewer events than Walsh Jennings and Sweat, who lost in the quarterfinals in Itapema.

The top two U.S. pairs come June 15, 2020, provided they’re ranked high enough internationally, will qualify for Tokyo. Most of the qualifying events, including the ones with the most points available, are still to come this summer.

Ross, 36, picked up Klineman, 29, after Walsh Jennings didn’t join her in signing a domestic AVP contract in 2017. The 6-foot-5 Klineman primarily played indoor the previous decade, including at Stanford from 2007-10 after being the Gatorade National Player of the Year coming out of high school.

MORE: Brazil volleyball star faints during courtside interview

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Katie Ledecky extends 5-year win streak

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Katie Ledecky extended a five-year domestic win streak by taking the 200m freestyle at the Tyr Pro Swim Series at Bloomington on Saturday.

In her last full meet before July’s world championships, Ledecky clocked 1:55.80 to beat training partner Simone Manuel by 1.44 seconds for her second win in as many days. Ledecky is also entered in Sunday’s 800m free on the last day of the meet.

Ledecky, who also cruised to a 400m free victory on Friday, ranks third in the world in the 200m free this year, behind Australian Ariarne Titmus and Swede Sarah Sjöström (the Olympic silver medalist who is not expected to race the 200m free at worlds).

Ledecky, a five-time Olympic champion, hasn’t lost a 200m, 400m, 800m or 1500m free final at a domestic meet since Allison Schmitt beat her in a 200m free on Jan. 18, 2014 when Ledecky was 16 years old.

BLOOMINGTON: Full Results

But Ledecky lost the two biggest 200m frees of this Olympic cycle so far, at the 2017 World Championships and the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships. Italian veteran Federica Pellegrini handed Ledecky her first individual final defeat at a major international meet at 2017 Worlds.

Ledecky dropped to third in the 200m free at Pan Pacs in Tokyo last year, beaten by younger swimmers Taylor Ruck of Canada and Rikako Ikee of Japan.

Ruck, who like Ledecky trains at Stanford, is in Bloomington, but she chose not to swim the 200m free on Saturday. She instead swam the 200m backstroke about 45 minutes after the 200m free and was upset by 17-year-old Regan Smith. Smith won in 2:06.47, moving to No. 3 in the world this year.

In other events Saturday, Ella Eastin captured the 400m individual medley in 4:37.18, taking 1.25 seconds off her personal best and moving to fifth in the world this year. Eastin is not on the world championships team after an untimely bout with mono before qualifying meets last summer.

Blake Pieroni won the men’s 200m free in 1:47.25. No American ranks in the top 20 in the world this year. World silver medalist Townley Haas did not enter Bloomington.

MORE: Olympic breaststroke champion faces ban for missed drug tests

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