Paula Moltzan grabs first Alpine skiing World Cup podium


American Paula Moltzan continued her Alpine skiing ascent, even with a crash on Thursday.

Moltzan, a 26-year-old who learned to ski on the same small Minnesota hill as Lindsey Vonn, finished second in a World Cup parallel event in Lech, Austria. It marked her first career World Cup podium. It was nearly a first victory.

“I was really hoping for, like, a top-30 today,” Moltzan sheepishly said before the finals.

She was neck-and-neck with Slovakian Petra Vlhova in the second of their two head-to-head final runs before crashing with three gates left under the lights.

“I’m kind of overwhelmed, but I’m really excited,” said Moltzan, who has raced World Cups on and off since 2012, notched her first top 10 last month and made her first parallel start Thursday. “I can’t wait to talk to my mom.”

Vlhova, the world giant slalom champion, earned her third World Cup win in six days and extended her overall standings lead. She was .21 of a second faster than Moltzan in their first final run. Moltzan erased the deficit early in the second run before falling.

“Every run was like a final,” Vlhova said of the bracketed, knockout-style format. “I am really tired and destroyed.”

Moltzan beat veteran World Cup race winners Marta Bassino of Italy and Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland to reach the finals. Gut-Behrami ended up third. Full results are here.

Moltzan, bidding for her first Olympics in 2022, became the first U.S. woman other than Mikaela Shiffrin to make the podium of a World Cup technical race since Lindsey Vonn on Dec. 12, 2015.

Shiffrin sat out Thursday’s event to gain training ahead of December races and following a back injury that hampered her preseason.

The men race a parallel event at the same venue on Friday, live on Peacock Premium. A full streaming schedule is here.

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French Open: Iga Swiatek rolls toward possible Coco Gauff rematch

Iga Swiatek

Iga Swiatek reached the French Open third round without dropping a set, eyeing a third Roland Garros title in four years. Not that she needed the help, but Swiatek’s immediate draw is wide open after the rest of the seeds in her section lost.

Swiatek dispatched 102nd-ranked American Claire Liu 6-4, 6-0 on Thursday, the same score as her first-round win. She gets 80th-ranked Wang Xinyu of China in the round of 32.

The other three seeds in Swiatek’s section all lost in the first round, so the earliest that the world No. 1 could play another seed is the quarterfinals. And that would be No. 6 Coco Gauff, who was runner-up to Swiatek last year.

Gauff plays her second-round match later Thursday against 61st-ranked Austrian Julia Grabher. Gauff also doesn’t have any seeds in her way before a possible Swiatek showdown.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Swiatek, who turned 22 on Wednesday, came into this year’s French Open without the invincibility of a year ago, when she was 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury, but said it wasn’t serious. That diagnosis appears to have been spot-on through two matches this week, though her serve was broken twice in the first set of each match.

While the men’s draw has been upended by 14-time champion Rafael Nadal‘s pre-event withdrawal and No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev‘s loss in the first round, the top women have taken care of business.

Nos. 2, 3 and 4 seeds Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, American Jessica Pegula and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan also reached the third round without dropping a set.

Though all of them have beaten Swiatek in 2023, the Pole remains the favorite to lift the trophy a week from Saturday. She can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

She can also become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

Swiatek doesn’t dwell on it.

“I never even played Serena or Monica Seles,” she said. “I’m kind of living my own life and having my own journey.”

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Penny Oleksiak to miss world swimming championships

Penny Oleksiak

Seven-time Olympic medalist Penny Oleksiak of Canada will miss July’s world swimming championships because she does not expect to be recovered enough from knee and shoulder injuries.

“The bar that we set was, can she be as good as she’s ever been at these world championships?” coach Ryan Mallette said in a press release. “We just don’t feel like we’re going to be ready to be 100 percent yet this summer. Our focus is to get her back to 100 percent as soon as possible to get ready for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.”

Oleksiak, who owns the Canadian record of seven Olympic medals (across all sports), missed Canada’s trials meet for worlds two months ago due to the injuries. She was still named to the team at the time in hope that she would be ready in time for worlds.

The 22-year-old returned to competition last month at a Mare Nostrum meet in Barcelona, after which she chose to focus on continued rehab rather than compete at worlds in Fukuoka, Japan.

“Swimming at Mare Nostrum was a checkpoint for worlds, and I gave it my best shot,” Oleksiak said in the release. “We reviewed my swims there, and it showed me the level I want to get back to. Now I need to focus on my rehab to get back to where I want to be and put myself in position to be at my best next season.”

Oleksiak had knee surgery last year to repair a meniscus. After that, she developed a left shoulder injury.

In 2016, Oleksiak tied for Olympic 100m freestyle gold with American Simone Manuel. She also earned 100m butterfly silver in Rio and 200m free bronze in Tokyo, along with four relay medals between those two Games.

At last year’s worlds, she earned four relay medals and placed fourth in the 100m free.

She anchored the Canadian 4x100m free relay to silver behind Australia at the most recent Olympics and worlds.

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