Alexis Pinturault
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Pinturault wins combined at Alpine worlds thanks to slalom leg

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Alexis Pinturault finally transferred his consistent winning form on the World Cup circuit into a gold medal at a major championship.

The French skier produced the second-fastest slalom leg in the Alpine combined at the world championships on Monday to rise from 24th place after the downhill portion and win by 0.24 seconds.

Stefan Hadalin of Slovenia was second and Marco Schwarz of Austria took bronze, 0.46 behind Pinturault.

It was Pinturault’s first major individual gold, even though he has won the World Cup combined title on four occasions.

One of three Olympic medals won by Pinturault was silver in the combined in Pyeongchang last year. At the worlds, he won gold in the team event in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in 2017 and bronze in giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colorado, in 2015.

While his victory didn’t come as a surprise, especially with Marcel Hirscher — the defending Olympic champion in combined — not entering the event, Hadalin’s silver certainly was. The 23-year-old Hadalin hasn’t finished in the top five in any discipline on the World Cup circuit.

Hadalin was the only skier to post a quicker time than Pinturault in the slalom leg, capitalizing on going out on fresh snow as the first racer.

Schwarz, who is also 23 and is the current leader of the World Cup combined standings, won his first individual medal of any color at a major championship.

Dominik Paris, the super-G champion, led after the downhill portion — and was 1.52 seconds ahead of Pinturault — but his lead was wiped out by halfway in the slalom. He placed ninth.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle, the latest member of the “Skiing Cochrans” family from the United States, fell from second place after the downhill to an 18th-place finish.

The top six in the standings were all slalom specialists, perhaps explaining why the combined is under threat as the International Ski Federation decides on the future of Alpine skiing’s original Olympic discipline.

FIS could replace Alpine combined with parallel slalom racing at future Olympics and world championships.

Chilean skier Henrik von Appen crashed in the downhill leg and didn’t race in the slalom. He skidded on an icy section about a third of the way down the course and landed on his left hip on top of his skies, before sliding down into the safety nets.

Von Appen could be heard screaming after he crashed. Medical staff tended to him.

It wasn’t immediately clear what type of injury he may have sustained. There was no immediate word from FIS or the Chilean ski federation.

Asbel Kiprop, Olympic 1500m champ, banned 4 years

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Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic 1500m champion and a three-time world champ, was banned four years after testing positive for EPO in November 2017, according to track and field’s doping watchdog organization.

The ban is backdated to Feb. 3, 2018, when the 29-year-old was provisionally suspended after the failed test.

Kiprop repeatedly denied doping since last May, when he first acknowledged the positive test. Most recently, a 3,000-word defense from his lawyer was posted on Kiprop’s Facebook page.

Kiprop’s defenses included saying he was a victim of extortion and that he was offered “a reward” of becoming an anti-doping ambassador if he admitted guilt. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the IAAF’s independent organization to monitor doping and corruption, denied the latter last May.

A disciplinary panel dismissed six defenses from exonerating him, including the possibility his sample was spiked, in handing out the four-year ban.

Kiprop, the pre-eminent 1500m runner of the last decade, can appeal the ban.

At 19, he finished second in the Beijing Olympic 1500m but was upgraded to gold a year later after Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi failed a drug test. He is the youngest Olympic 1500m medalist of all time, according to the OlyMADMen.

Kiprop went on to earn three straight world titles in the 1500m in 2011, 2013 and 2015, matching the feats of retired legends Noureddine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj.

He struggled in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, finishing last in the London final with a hamstring injury and sixth in the Rio final won by American rival Matthew Centrowitz.

Kiprop has targeted El Guerrouj’s world record of 3:26:00, missing the mark by .69 of a second in 2015.

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Maggie Nichols is second woman in 20 years to repeat as NCAA all-around champ

Maggie Nichols
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Oklahoma junior and world champion gymnast Maggie Nichols became the first woman to repeat as NCAA all-around champion in 12 years, returning from a heel injury to compete on all four events for the first time since January on Friday.

Nichols, a Rio Olympic hopeful before being beset by a torn meniscus in 2016, joined 2004 Olympic silver medalist Courtney Kupets as the only women to win back-to-back NCAA all-arounds in the 2000s.

A junior, Nichols can next year join Jenny Hansen as the only women to three-peat in NCAA history.

Oklahoma goes for a third team title in four years on Saturday night against UCLA (featuring Olympic champions Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross), LSU and Denver.

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NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Individual Results
All-Around
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma) — 39.7125
2. Lexy Ramler (Minnesota) — 39.6625
2. Kyla Ross (UCLA) — 39.6625
4. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 39.65
5. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 39.6

Vault
1. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 9.95
1. Derrian Gobourne (Auburn)
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)

Uneven Bars
1. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 9.95

Balance Beam
1. Natalie Wojcik (Michigan) — 9.95

Floor Exercise
1. Alicia Boren (Florida) — 9.95
1. Lynnzee Brown (Denver)
1. Brenna Dowell (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)