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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Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

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