Italy’s Dominik Paris gets third-career Kitzbuehel downhill win

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Severe weather conditions forced event organizers to rejigger the race schedule in Kitzbuehel this weekend. Heavy snowfall and the subsequent use of water to ice the infamous downhill course, affectionately referred to as the “Super Bowl of Skiing,” created a track which gave skiers fits in training runs.

For example, Austria’s Matthias Mayer was the fastest skier on the hill in Tuesday’s training, but dropped to 35th on Thursday.

The name that kept coming up as the potential victor for Friday, according to FIS-ski.com, was Italy’s Dominik Paris. This time, the experts got it right.

Paris is the only active skier to win multiple downhill races in Kitzbuehel, winning the race in 2013 and 2017. In training runs this week, Paris ranked third and fourth.

On Friday, Paris did tame the mountain. It was a back-and-forth battle with the clock down the course for Paris. He held a slim lead early in his run, then slipped behind the pace set by then-current leader, Switzerland’s Beat Feuz. But Paris found the speed he needed in the end, crossing the finish line .20 hundredths of a second ahead of Feuz.

Joining Paris and Feuz on the podium in third, racing on home snow, was Austria’s Otmar Striedinger. Wearing bib #27, Striedinger entered the day ranked 24th in downhill World Cup points.

Full results are here.

The U.S.’ Bryce Bennett, coming off three-straight top five downhill finishes, including last week’s event in Wengen, finished 14th. Travis Ganong, also skiing for the U.S., finished 19th.

Last week’s two-time winner in the downhill and Alpine combined, Austria’s Vincent Kriechmayr, posted one of the most impressive DNFs of the day in Kitzbuehel. To his credit, Kriechmayr was able to cross the finish line, but not without fishtailing out of control at two separate sections of the course. Both times, he was able to recover and avoid becoming the red net’s latest victim.

Ski racing starts early on Saturday for stateside fans. The first run of men’s slalom gets underway at 3:30 a.m. ET from Kitzbuehel, with the second run starting at 6:30 a.m. ET. However, those times could change with winter weather expected to impact the mountain over the weekend. Watch the racing live from Kitzbuehel on NBC Sports Gold.

The women’s World Cup tour will run its first race of the weekend, the Super-G, from the picturesque Bavarian region of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, GaPa for short, starting at 4:00 a.m. ET, Saturday morning.

On Thursday, the U.S.’ Lindsey Vonn announced she would not be racing in GaPa. Last week in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Vonn had made her return to World Cup racing after being sidelined since Novermber with an injured left knee.

After skiing out in the Super-G on Sunday in Cortina, Vonn announced on Instagram she was battling new and severe nerve pain in one of her knees. Vonn believes the most recent injury was caused by a jump she took during a Super-G training run in Cortina. She hopes to return to racing before the end of the season.

Watch the women’s World Cup live on TV on Olympic Channel or stream it on NBC Sports Gold.

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Elena Fanchini, medal-winning Alpine skier, dies at 37

Elena Fanchini
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Italian skier Elena Fanchini, whose career was cut short by a tumor, has died. She was 37.

Fanchini passed away Wednesday at her home in Solato, near Brescia, the Italian Winter Sports Federation announced.

Fanchini died on the same day that fellow Italian Marta Bassino won the super-G at the world championships in Meribel, France; and two days after Federica Brignone — another former teammate — claimed gold in combined.

Sofia Goggia, who is the favorite for Saturday’s downhill, dedicated her win in Cortina d’Ampezzo last month to Fanchini.

Fanchini last raced in December 2017. She was cleared to return to train nearly a year later but never made it fully back, and her condition grew worse in recent months.

Fanchini won a silver medal in downhill at the 2005 World Championships and also won two World Cup races in her career — both in downhill.

She missed the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics because of her condition.

Fanchini’s younger sisters Nadia and Sabrina were also World Cup racers.

USA Boxing to skip world championships

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USA Boxing will not send boxers to this year’s men’s and women’s world championships, citing “the ongoing failures” of the IBA, the sport’s international governing body, that put boxing’s place on the Olympic program at risk.

The Washington Post first reported the decision.

In a letter to its members, USA Boxing Executive Director Mike McAtee listed many factors that led to the decision, including IBA governance issues, financial irregularities and transparency and that Russian and Belarusian boxers are allowed to compete with their flags.

IBA lifted its ban on Russian and Belarusian boxers in October and said it would allow their flags and anthems to return, too.

The IOC has not shifted from its recommendation to international sports federations last February that Russian and Belarusian athletes be barred, though the IOC and Olympic sports officials have been exploring whether those athletes could return without national symbols.

USA Boxing said that Russian boxers have competed at an IBA event in Morocco this month with their flags and are expected to compete at this year’s world championships under their flags.

“While sport is intended to be politically neutral, many boxers, coaches and other representatives of the Ukrainian boxing community were killed as a result of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, including coach Mykhaylo Korenovsky who was killed when a Russian missile hit an apartment block in January 2023,” according to the USA Boxing letter. “Ukraine’s sports infrastructure, including numerous boxing gyms, has been devastated by Russian aggression.”

McAtee added later that USA Boxing would still not send athletes to worlds even if Russians and Belarusians were competing as neutrals and without their flags.

“USA Boxing’s decision is based on the ‘totality of all of the factors,'” he said in an emailed response. “Third party oversite and fairness in the field of play is the most important factor.”

A message has been sent to the IBA seeking comment on USA Boxing’s decision.

The women’s world championships are in March in India. The men’s world championships are in May in Uzbekistan. They do not count toward 2024 Olympic qualifying.

In December, the IOC said recent IBA decisions could lead to “the cancellation of boxing” for the 2024 Paris Games.

Some of the already reported governance issues led to the IOC stripping IBA — then known as AIBA — of its Olympic recognition in 2019. AIBA had suspended all 36 referees and judges used at the 2016 Rio Olympics pending an investigation into a possible judging scandal, one that found that some medal bouts were fixed by “complicit and compliant” referees and judges.

The IOC ran the Tokyo Olympic boxing competition.

Boxing was not included on the initial program for the 2028 Los Angeles Games announced in December 2021, though it could still be added. The IBA must address concerns “around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” IOC President Thomas Bach said then.

This past June, the IOC said IBA would not run qualifying competitions for the 2024 Paris Games.

In September, the IOC said it was “extremely concerned” about the Olympic future of boxing after an IBA extraordinary congress overwhelmingly backed Russian Umar Kremlev to remain as its president rather than hold an election.

Kremlev was re-elected in May after an opponent, Boris van der Vorst of the Netherlands, was barred from running against him. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in June that van der Vorst should have been eligible to run against Kremlev, but the IBA group still decided not to hold a new election.

Last May, Rashida Ellis became the first U.S. woman to win a world boxing title at an Olympic weight since Claressa Shields in 2016, taking the 60kg lightweight crown in Istanbul. In Tokyo, Ellis lost 3-0 in her opening bout in her Olympic debut.

At the last men’s worlds in 2021, Robby Gonzales and Jahmal Harvey became the first U.S. men to win an Olympic or world title since 2007, ending the longest American men’s drought since World War II.

The Associated Press and NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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