Shock World Cup downhill win for No. 41 starter

Martin Cater
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VAL D’ISERE, France (AP) — Long after most broadcasters had switched to other programs, unheralded No. 41 starter Martin Cater won the first downhill of the World Cup season on Sunday.

The television networks had a point. The 27-year-old Slovenian’s career-best result was eighth in his 38 previous World Cup downhills and he seemed unlikely to disturb an already unexpected 1-2 finish.

Instead, Cater raced down in bright sunshine under clear blue skies in the French Alps to seal an even more shocking podium result.

“For me it was a really good run but I didn’t believe it,” said Cater, who was 0.22 seconds faster than Otmar Striedinger to deny the Austrian his first career win.

Striedinger was wearing bib No. 26 after dropping out of the top-ranked group last season, and had a best of third place in his 64 previous World Cup downhills.

Urs Kryenbühl was third, 0.27 back. The little-known Swiss seemed set for his debut win after being fastest of the top 20-ranked racers. He had a single top-10 result in his 41 career World Cup races, though that was as runner-up last year in Bormio, Italy.

Both Striedinger and Kryenbühl must have earlier thought victory was theirs, and both had taken part in a brief victory ceremony that World Cup organizers always stage after the top-30 downhill racers complete their run.

Those now outdated photographs included the defending World Cup overall champion, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who was pushed down to fourth by Cater’s surprise success.

Asked what placing he expected on crossing the finish line, Cater said: “I was hoping not 36 or 37. It’s difficult to understand sometimes.”

Cater’s previous best World Cup results were a pair of sixth places, including in the Alpine combined event last January at Wengen, Switzerland.

Beat Feuz and Dominik Paris, the most prolific downhill racers in recent years, placed sixth and 10th, respectively.

Defending World Cup downhill champion Feuz clocked the fastest speed-check at 72 mph after losing time going wide at a turn in the mid-section.

American Ryan Cochran-Siegle was fastest of all on the bottom half of the course, yet trailing 0.81 behind the winning time was good for only 13th place.

Though Cater enjoyed excellent snow conditions and visibility starting his run just after midday, the sun had lit up the 1.9-mile Oreiller-Killy course from the beginning a little after 10.30 a.m. local time.

The downhill was moved back one day from its scheduled slot to seek better weather. A super-G run Saturday amid light snowfalls and fog was won by another first-time winner, 32-year-old Mauro Caviezel of Switzerland.

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Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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