Beat Feuz
AP

Feuz, Schmidhofer secure downhill titles at World Cup Finals

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SOLDEU, Andorra (AP) — Beat Feuz and Nicole Schmidhofer wrapped up the season-long downhill titles at the World Cup Finals despite neither winning a race on Wednesday.

Feuz, only needing a top-12 result, finished sixth in the men’s race, which was won by Dominik Paris of Italy.

Schmidhofer clinched the title as soon as her only remaining rival, Austrian teammate Ramona Siebenhofer, failed to get the victory she needed. Another Austrian, Mirjam Puchner, won the race.

Feuz finished 0.64 seconds behind Paris in sixth but the Swiss skier, leading the standings by 80 points going into the race, secured the season-long title for the second straight year.

“It’s incredible for me to have two globes now. Dominik is in a super form and I am really proud to have won it,” said Feuz, who led Paris by only 20 points in the final standings.

Feuz won only one race this season, in Beaver Creek in November, but he had top-three results in 11 of the last 13 races. Last week, he became the first skier since Stephan Eberharter of Austria in 2004 to finish on the podium in six straight downhills.

“Dominik won many races this year. He won four, I won just one,” Feuz said. “But the important thing was to be on the podium in six of the eight races this season. Consistency is my advantage.”

Feuz won his first downhill title last year, also in the season-ending race, when he beat challenger Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway.

In Wednesday’s race, Paris beat world champion Kjetil Jansrud of Norway by 0.34 seconds, with Otmar Striedinger of Austria 0.41 behind in third.

He became the first Italian skier to win four downhills in one campaign, beating the previous record set by Kristian Ghedina in the 1996-97 season and matched by Christof Innerhofer in 2012-13.

Paris has yet to win a crystal globe, but has a chance to do so in Thursday’ super-G, where he leads the standings.

Leading the women’s standings by 90 points, Schmidhofer only could have lost the title if Siebenhofer had won the final race.

But Siebenhofer lost any hope for a victory when she had to brake after landing a jump in order to make the upcoming gate. She finished more than two seconds off the lead and even failed to score World Cup points.

Schmidhofer finished 11th.

Puchner beat Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany by 0.03 seconds. Corinne Suter of Switzerland was third, 0.08 behind.

It’s the first World Cup title for the Austrian women’s team since Eva-Maria Brem won the giant slalom globe in 2016, and the first downhill title since Renate Goetschl won it in 2007.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Schmidhofer said. “But to be named in one sentence with Goetschl is something really special. She won in 2007 when I won the junior world title.”

Schmidhofer is also in contention for the super-G title, where Mikaela Shiffrin leads the standings.

The women’s downhill was interrupted for 15 minutes after Connie Huetter crashed and landed in the safety netting. The Austrian was transported off the hill with an apparent knee injury. Huetter was out with injuries twice before this season and missed last month’s world championships after tearing an ACL in her right knee in January.

The men’s and women’s super-G races are scheduled for Thursday.

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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