Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal ends career with downhill silver at Worlds

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After an hour-long delay, the men’s downhill kicked off at the World Championships in Are, Sweden with visibility still questionable due to fog and falling snow.

Topping out at around 80 mph, skiers attacked the shortened course despite the inability to see the approaching terrain.

In his career curtain call, Norway’s five-time World Champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, Aksel Lund Svindal finished just .02 hundredths of a second behind his countryman Kjetil Jansrud to take home the silver medal.  Austria’s Vincent Kriechmayr completed the podium in third.

Full results are here.

Like the U.S.’ Lindsey Vonn, who has reportedly referred to Svindal as her “life coach,” the Norwegian has decided to call it quits after Are, citing his own list of injuries suffered over two decades of competitive racing. Svindal is also the reigning Olympic downhill champion. Last year in PyeongChang, he became the oldest Alpine skier to win an Olympic gold medal.

For Jansrud, the win in Are is his first World Championship victory. The race was also his first downhill since he broke his hand in training on the downhill course in Kitzbuehel back in January.

“I’ve been sharing the podium with Aksel for quite a few times throughout [our careers], and doing this on his last race, at World Champs is an honor,” Jansrud said after the race. “This is a perfect day.”

The U.S.’ Bryce Bennett, who has repeatedly knocked on the downhill podium door throughout this World Cup season, was the top finisher for the Stars and Stripes, ending the day tied for ninth.

The women’s downhill on Sunday morning at 6:25 a.m. ET is the can’t miss race of the 2019 World Championships, as Vonn, long known as the “Speed Queen,” charges down the slopes in Are for one final run of her career. Vonn was back on her skis on Friday in the downhill portion of the Alpine combined, using the run as training, after her ferocious crash in the Super-G earlier this week.

Vonn will be the third skier out of the gate on Sunday morning in the downhill.

Watch the women’s downhill tomorrow live on TV or streaming on NBCSN, Olympic Channel and NBC Sports Gold. An encore presentation of the women’s downhill airs on Sunday afternoon on NBC at 3:00 p.m. ET.

World Championship racing continues for the men on Monday with the Alpine Super combined, with the downhill run scheduled for 5:00 a.m. ET and the deciding slalom run set for 8:30 a.m. ET. Watch the downhill live on TV or streaming on Olympic Channel. The slalom run of the event will air live on TV and streaming on NBCSN. Both races are also streaming live with the NBC Sports Gold Snow Pass.

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Mo Farah focused on Chicago Marathon defense, not ruling out 10,000m double

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Mo Farah said all of his training focus is on defending his Chicago Marathon title on Oct. 13, but the British star also said Tuesday that he can wait until “the last minute” to change his mind and also enter the world championships 10,000m on Oct. 6.

“I am a reigning world champion, so I do get an automatic spot anyway,” Farah said of the 10,000m, where he is a three-time reigning world champion.

Farah transitioned to road racing after the 2017 season and was thought to be done with major track championships. Farah was the distance king for more than a half-decade, sweeping the 5000m and 10,000m at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

Farah said Tuesday that he didn’t know what the deadline would be to enter the world championships 10,000m.

“I really don’t know. I think the last minute,” he said. “As I said, I get an automatic spot anyway. I don’t know. My main target is to defend my [marathon] title, come out to Chicago. All the training is geared toward the marathon.”

An IAAF spokesperson said Farah must be entered as part of the British team by Sept. 16 to be eligible for worlds.

British Athletics said Wednesday that its team will be selected Sept. 2.

“Should Mo wish to race the 10,000m in Doha, he would need to advise the selection panel prior to this date,” a spokesperson said.

Farah enticed his followers about the 10,000m in a July 27 Instagram with the hashtag #doha10k, referencing the site of world championships in Qatar. Farah was asked Tuesday why he included the hashtag.

“Anything is possible,” he said. “I’m a reigning champion. I get an automatic spot. There’s nothing I have to do. I just thought why not?”

It’s not an unprecedented type of move to race a 10,000m one week before a marathon. Former training partner Galen Rupp placed fifth in the 2016 Olympic 10,000m on Aug. 13, then took bronze in the marathon on Aug. 21.

Farah said he hasn’t set any major racing plans beyond Chicago. He finished what he called a disappointing fifth in the London Marathon in 2:05.39 on April 28, three minutes behind winner Eliud Kipchoge. Farah said a satisfying result in Chicago would be a win above worrying about a specific time. The last man to repeat as Chicago champ was Kenyan Sammy Wanjiru in 2010.

The 2020 London Marathon is three and a half months before the Tokyo Olympic marathon, a tight turnaround.

“I think I can get back in form for the London Marathon before the Olympics, and then the Olympics, I guess, but I haven’t decided,” Farah said. “My main target now is just Chicago, then work from there.”

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Race Imboden, Gwen Berry get probation for Pan Am Games podium protests

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DENVER (AP) — The letter went to the two protesters. The message was meant for a much wider audience.

The CEO of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee sent letters of reprimand to hammer thrower Gwen Berry and fencer Race Imboden for protesting on the medals stand last week at the Pan American Games, but the 12-month probations that came with the letters also included a none-too-subtle signal for anyone vying for next year’s Olympics.

“It is also important for me to point out that, going forward, issuing a reprimand to other athletes in a similar instance is insufficient,” Sarah Hirshland wrote in the letters sent Tuesday. The Associated Press obtained copies of the documents.

Neither Berry’s raised fist nor Imboden’s kneel-down on the Pan Am medals stand were met with immediate consequences, in part because they happened at the tail end of the Games that were wrapping up in Lima, Peru.

Hirshland’s letter was as clear a sign as possible that athletes who try the same next year in Tokyo could face a different reaction.

It’s the IOC’s role to discipline athletes who break rules that forbid political protest at the Olympics — much the way the IOC triggered the ouster of John Carlos and Tommie Smith after their iconic protest in 1968 — though national federations can get into the mix, too. Before going to the Olympics, athletes sign forms stating they’re aware of the rules and won’t break them.

“We recognize that we must more clearly define for Team USA athletes what a breach of these rules will mean in the future,” Hirshland wrote. “Working with the (athletes and national governing body councils), we are committed to more explicitly defining what the consequences will be for members of Team USA who protest at future Games.”

Neither athlete immediately returned messages sent to them by AP via their social media accounts and agents.

Both will be eligible for the Olympics next summer, when the United States will be in the heat of a presidential campaign.

In a tweet sent shortly after his team’s medals ceremony at the Pan Am Games, Imboden said: “Racism, gun control, mistreatment of immigrants, and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list” of issues that need to be addressed.

Berry said she was protesting social injustice in America, and that it was “too important to not say something.”

Hirshland said she respected the perspectives of the athletes and would work with the IOC “to engage on a global discussion on these matters.”

“However, we can’t ignore the rules or the reasons they exist,” she wrote.

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