Alexis Pinturault beats Henrik Kristoffersen for 30th World Cup win

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LECH-ZUERS, Austria — Alexis Pinturault edged Henrik Kristoffersen in a floodlit men’s World Cup parallel event on Friday for his 30th career win.

The Frenchman built a lead of 0.16 seconds over his Norwegian rival on the slightly faster blue course, before Kristoffersen shaved off only five hundredths of his deficit in the deciding run.

The victory lifted Pinturault into outright 10th place on the all-time winners list in men’s World Cup history, overtaking former Austrian standout Stephan Eberharter. Next on the list is American skier Bode Miller with 33 wins.

“If you talk about the victory and the race today, it is something really great,” Pinturault said.

“It was pretty good, it was going so fast that you have no time to think about it. You have to focus on your race and on your runs.”

Pinturault has been the most successful active male skier since record eight-time overall champion Marcel Hirscher retired in 2019 after winning 67 races.

The result also made the Frenchman the first male skier to win races in six different Alpine disciplines, matching Mikaela Shiffrin’s record on the women’s circuit.

However, Pinturault played down the importance of that milestone, pointing out that the former city events and the current parallel events are regarded as two different disciplines, although they were “more or less the same” in his opinion.

“I am not here for the numbers, I am here to have fun, to attack,” he said. “And today was great. I skied really well, that’s the most important for me.”

Alexander Schmid of Germany finished the parallel event in third, beating Adrian Pertl of Austria by 0.58 after winning both runs of the small final.

Alexander Aamodt Kilde, who succeeded Hirscher as overall champion last season, was sixth fastest in qualifying but lost his round-of-16 duel against Christian Hirschbuehl of Austria.

Kristoffersen, who won the season title in both technical disciplines last season, said “today was good for me, I am very satisfied with the race,” but the Norwegian repeated his earlier criticism of the format, calling the courses too straightforward.

“If you have racers competing so close to each other, you cannot work with rolls or jumps. If you see the slalom in Kitzbuehel, the downhill in Kitzbuehel, or the giant slalom in Adelboden, there is so much terrain and you have to ski in the flats and in the steep parts. But (the parallel format) is made for the show.”

It was the only parallel event of the World Cup season, though the discipline is on the schedule at the world championships in Italy in February.

The parallel event is a quick format, with two skiers racing side-by-side on identical, shortened giant slalom courses, marked with red and blue gates, respectively.

They take one run on each course, with the shortest aggregate time deciding the winner.

Contrary to previous seasons, only 16 starters were allowed, with the qualification earlier Friday reducing the initial field of 65.

Both racers who won similar events last season, were missing.

Norway’s Rasmus Windingstad posted the 35th time in qualifying and failed to go through to the knockout stages, while Switzerland’s Loïc Meillard went into quarantine this week after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Also, Lucas Braathen, who won the season-opening giant slalom six weeks ago, missed the cut in qualifying, coming up seven hundredths short as he placed 18th.

Fastest in qualifying was Stefan Luitz, who was runner-up to Windingstad in the parallel event in Alta Badia, Italy, in December.

Luitz narrowly lost to Kristoffersen in the quarterfinals, and the German finished seventh.

Next on the men’s World Cup calendar are two giant slaloms in Santa Caterina Valfurva, Italy, next weekend. Those races have been moved from Val d’Isere due to a lack of snow in the French resort.

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Jim Redmond, who helped son Derek finish 1992 Olympic race, dies

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Jim Redmond, who helped his injured son, Derek, finish his 1992 Olympic 400m semifinal, died at age 81 on Sunday, according to the British Olympic Association, citing family members.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Derek pulled his right hamstring 15 seconds into his 400m semifinal, falling to the track in anguish.

He brushed off help from officials, got up and began limping around the track. About 120 meters from the finish line, he felt the presence of an uncredentialed man who rushed down the stadium stairs, dodged officials and reportedly said, “We started this together, and we’re going to finish this together.”

“As I turned into the home straight, I could sense this person was about to try and stop me,” Derek said in an NBC Olympics profile interview before the 2012 London Games. “I was just about to get ready to sort of fend them off, and then I heard a familiar voice of my dad. He said, ‘Derek, it’s me. You don’t need to do this.'”

Derek said he shouted to his dad that he wanted to finish the race.

“He was sort of saying things like, ‘You’ve got nothing to prove. You’re a champion. You’ll come back. You’re one of the best guys in the world. You’re a true champion. You’ve got heart. You’re going to get over this. We’ll conquer the world together,'” Derek remembered. “I’m just sort of saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.'”

At one point, Derek noticed stadium security, not knowing who Jim was, having removed guns from their holsters.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever heard my dad use bad language,” Derek said. “He just goes, ‘Leave him alone, I’m his father.'”

Derek told himself in that moment, “I’m going to finish this race if it’s the last race I ever run.” It turned out to be the last 400m race of his career, after surgery and 18 months of rehab were not enough to yield a competitive comeback, according to Sports Illustrated.

Derek had missed the 1988 Seoul Games after tearing an Achilles, reportedly while warming up for his opening race. He looked strong in Barcelona, winning his first-round heat and quarterfinal.

“I’d rather be seen to be coming last in the semifinal than not finish in the semifinal,” he said, “because at least I can say I gave it my best.”

Asher Hong leads U.S. men’s gymnastics world team selection camp after first day

Asher Hong
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Asher Hong, 18, posted the highest all-around score on the first of two days of competition at the U.S. men’s gymnastics selection camp to determine the last three spots on the team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Hong, bidding to become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009, totaled 84.6 points in Colorado Springs. He edged Colt Walker by one tenth. Tokyo Olympians Shane Wiskus (84.15) and Yul Moldauer (83.95) were next. Full apparatus-by-apparatus scores are here.

Brody Malone, who repeated as U.S. all-around champion at August’s national championships, and runner-up Donnell Whittenburg already clinched spots on the five-man team for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. They did not compete Monday, though their results from the first day of nationals are shown in the official scores.

The three remaining team spots will not necessarily go to the top three all-arounders at this week’s camp, which is supposed to be weighed equally with results from August’s nationals. Hong was third at nationals, but if excluding difficulty bonus points from that meet that will not be considered by the committee, would have finished behind Walker and Moldauer in August.

A selection committee is expected to announce the team soon after the second and final day of selection camp competition on Wednesday evening. The committee will look at overall scoring potential for the world team final, where three men go per apparatus, and medal potential in individual events.

Stephen Nedoroscik, who last year became the first American to win a world title on the pommel horse, is trying to make the team solely on that apparatus. He wasn’t at his best at nationals and struggled again on Monday, hurting his chances of displacing an all-arounder for one of the last three spots.

The U.S. has reason to emphasize the team event over individual medals at this year’s worlds. It will clinch an Olympic berth by finishing in the top three, and its medal hopes are boosted by the absence of the Russians who won the Olympic team title. All gymnasts from Belarus and Russia are banned indefinitely from international competition due to the war in Ukraine.

In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

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