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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Jamaican bobsledders want to return to the Olympics, so they’re pushing a Mini Cooper

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The Jamaican bobsled team’s push for the next Winter Olympics took a detour to the roads of Great Britain.

Numerous British media outlets reported in the last week on Shanwayne Stephens and Nimroy Turgott, who have been pushing cars, including a Mini Cooper, in Peterborough.

“We had to come up with our own ways of replicating the sort of pushing we need to do [in bobsledding amid the coronavirus pandemic],” Stephens, a reported British resident since age 11, said, according to Reuters. “So that’s why we thought: why not go out and push the car?

“We do get some funny looks. We’ve had people run over, thinking the car’s broken down, trying to help us bump-start the car. When we tell them we’re the Jamaica bobsleigh team, the direction is totally different, and they’re very excited.”

The Jamaican bobsled team rose to fame with its Olympic debut at the 1988 Calgary Winter Games, inspiring the 1993 Disney film, “Cool Runnings.” At least one Jamaican men’s sled competed in every Olympics from 1988 through 2002, then again in 2014, with a best finish of 14th.

A Jamaican women’s sled debuted at the Olympics in 2018, driven by 2014 U.S. Olympian Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian. A Jamaican men’s sled just missed qualifying for PyeongChang by one spot in world rankings.

Stephens, a driver, is 51st and 56th in the current world rankings for the four-person and two-man events, respectively.

He competed in lower-level international races last season with a best finish of sixth in a four-person race that had seven sleds. One of Stephens’ push athletes was Carrie Russell, a 2018 Olympian in the two-woman event and former sprinter who won a world title in the 4x100m in 2013.

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MORE: Sam Clayton, Jamaica’s first bobsled driver, was ‘a pioneer of pioneers’

Lance Armstrong, Jan Ullrich and a Tour de France rivalry that brought tears

Lance Armstrong, Jan Ullrich
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Lance Armstrong reportedly breaks down into tears in Sunday’s second episode of his ESPN documentary, discussing his closest rival during his run of seven Tour de France titles, all later stripped for doping.

Armstrong visited Jan Ullrich in Germany in 2018, after Ullrich was released from a psychiatric hospital following multiple reported arrests over assault charges.

“The reason I went to see him is I love him,” Armstrong said, followed by tears, according to reports. “It was not a good trip. He was the most important person in my life.”

Ullrich struggled with reported substance abuse, saying in a 2018 letter in German newspaper Bild that he detoxed in a Miami facility and that he had “an illness.”

Ullrich, after winning the 1997 Tour de France, finished second to Armstrong in 2000, 2001 and 2003.

He retired in 2007. In 2013, he admitted to doping during his career (which had been widely assumed), five months after Armstrong confessed in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

“Nobody scared me, motivated me. The other guys … no disrespect to them, didn’t get me up early,” Armstrong said in the ESPN film, according to Cycling Weekly. “He got me up early. And [in 2018] he was just a f—ing mess.”

Armstrong and Ullrich’s most notable Tour de France interactions: In Stage 10 in 2001, on the iconic Alpe d’Huez, Armstrong gave what came to be known as “The Look,” turning back to stare in sunglasses at Ullrich, then accelerating away to win the stage by 1:59.

In Stage 15 in 2003, Armstrong’s handlebars caught a spectator’s yellow bag. He crashed to the pavement. Ullrich and others slowed to allow Armstrong to remount and catch up. Armstrong won the stage, upping his lead from 15 seconds to 1:07, eventually winning the Tour by 1:01, by far the closest of his seven titles (again, all later stripped).

For Armstrong, Ullrich began transforming from rival to friend in 2005. After Armstrong won his last (later stripped) Tour de France that July, he was told Ullrich wanted to show up at Armstrong’s victory party in a luxury Paris hotel. Ullrich wanted to say a few words in front of hundreds of Armstrong supporters.

“If you know Jan, you know that his English is not great,” Armstrong said in a 2017 episode of one of his podcasts. “I’m just going, no, this can’t be happening. This is not real. Jan showed up and took the mic and gave a speech and talked about me and talked about us. It was the classiest thing that anybody ever did for me in my cycling career. I’ll never forget it. I love him for it.

“I wasn’t man enough to do that. If the roles were reversed, there’s no way I would have done that. But for him to do that, that’s something that I’ll never forget the rest of my life.”

In 2017, Armstrong was upset that Ullrich wasn’t invited to appear at the Tour de France’s opening stages, held in Germany that year. In 2013, when Ullrich fessed up to doping, he said of his chief rival and fellow cheater, “I am no better than Armstrong, but no worse either.”

Ullrich (and other dopers) kept his Tour de France title, a fact that Armstrong has brought up in interviews since his confession. Ullrich was reportedly asked in 2016 by CyclingTips if he considered Armstrong a seven-time Tour de France champion.

“This is a hard question,” he said, according to the report. “It’s not good, that in all those years, you have no winner. It’s not good for history, it’s not good for the Tour de France. I have heard all the stories about Lance. It’s a hard question. I don’t know the answer. I’m not the judge. But for the history of the Tour de France, it’s not good that there is no winner.”

TIMELINE: Lance Armstrong’s rise and fall

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