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.

Federica Brignone passes Mikaela Shiffrin for World Cup overall lead

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Italian Federica Brignone passed an absent Mikaela Shiffrin for the World Cup overall standings lead by winning a combined in Switzerland on Sunday.

Brignone prevailed by .92 of a second adding times from super-G and slalom runs in Crans-Montana. Full results are here.

Brignone moved 73 points ahead of Shiffrin in the overall through 29 of 40 scheduled races. A race winner receives 100 points on a descending scale through the 30th-place finisher. The season runs through March 22.

Shiffrin, the three-time reigning World Cup overall champion, has not competed since the unexpected death of her father on Feb. 2. She has not announced if or when she will return this season.

Brignone, 29, is having a career season with five wins and 10 podiums across four disciplines.

Brignone’s best previous World Cup overall standings finish was fifth. She earned giant slalom medals at the 2018 Olympics (bronze) and 2011 World Championships (silver).

She could become Italy’s first female World Cup overall champion. The last Italian male winner was Alberto Tomba in 1995.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves to La Thuile, Italy, for a super-G and a combined next Saturday and Sunday.

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Jade Carey on brink of becoming first gymnast to qualify for U.S. Olympic team

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The U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials aren’t until late June, but Jade Carey is in position to qualify for the Tokyo Games in March.

Carey, seeking an individual Olympic gymnastics spot outside of the team competition, earned the maximum points in a World Cup series that is one path to Olympic qualification.

Carey has three wins each on floor exercise and vault with two World Cups left in March. Carey will mathematically clinch an Olympic spot if no other gymnasts earn maximum points on one of the apparatuses to force a tiebreaker.

A gymnast’s top three finishes across the eight-stop series count in Olympic qualifying. If Carey finishes atop the floor or vault standings, she goes to the Olympics.

Carey picked up those third wins on floor and vault at the sixth World Cup in Melbourne, Australia, this weekend.

So far, no other gymnast has two wins on floor. One other gymnast can get to the maximum points on vault with one win between the last two stops (and others with two).

The one downside to qualifying this route: Carey would not be able to compete in the team competition at the Olympics. Those four spots will be determined at and after June’s trials in St. Louis, with Simone Biles likely grabbing one of them.

“I knew I would be giving up being on the team,” Carey said in October of going the World Cup route, “but I think, for me, it made sense to just go for it.”

Carey is a world medalist on vault and floor, but she doesn’t have the all-around credentials of Biles and some other U.S. gymnasts.

Olympic team event roster sizes were cut from five to four for Tokyo, putting a greater onus on all-around prowess given a team must put three gymnasts on each apparatus in the Olympic final.

The U.S. is the deepest country in women’s gymnastics, so the only truly safe pick to make the four-woman Olympic team event roster is Biles.

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