Ramon Zenhaeusern goes from 8th to win season’s first slalom

Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup - Men's Slalom
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ALTA BADIA, Italy — Ramon Zenhaeusern won the first men’s World Cup slalom of the season on Monday, improving from eighth position after the opening run.

The Swiss skier beat two Austrians — Manuel Feller and Marco Schwarz — for his fourth career win, but first since March 2019.

First-run leader Alex Vinatzer dropped to fourth in the Italian’s first World Cup race after having surgery for appendicitis less than four weeks ago.

Zenhaeusern was 0.52 seconds off the lead after the first run and posting the 10th fastest time in the final run was enough for the win, 0.08 ahead of Feller and 0.12 ahead of Schwarz.

“It was so tight after the first run, I had to push full on,” Zenhaeusern said.

“I was really, really nervous, because I hadn’t raced since nearly 11 months. And now this, it’s really good. It shows you that all the work in these 11 months pays off.”

Daniel Yule and Michael Matt, who were second and third after the opening run, dropped to seventh and 15th, respectively, though they remained within a second of Zenhaeusern’s winning time.

Alexis Pinturault was 0.77 behind in 11th and the Frenchman strengthened his top position in the overall standings, as his main rival, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, doesn’t compete in slalom.

Slalom World Cup champion Henrik Kristoffersen finished sixth.

Slowed by tough snow conditions on the Gran Risa course, many favorites seemed surprised by their finishing times, with some racers shrugging their shoulders or spreading their arms in disbelief.

However, Feller improved from 13th by clocking the second-fastest time in the final run.

The Austrian struggled with persistent back problems last season, and he screamed “He is here again!” as soon as he crossed the finish.

“This is the most emotional moment of my career. Last season was incredibly exhausting and incredibly hurtful,” he said, adding the result gave him “satisfaction.”

“I thought my run might be good enough for fifth place and I would have been super happy with that,” said Feller, who has five career podium results but is yet to win a race.

Schwarz completed the strong showing of the Austrian team, trailing Feller by four hundredths in third.

Austria is still chasing a first win in a slalom or GS since record eight-time overall champion Marcel Hirscher retired in 2019.

Vinatzer lost his first-run lead as he posted the 23rd time in the final run, missing the podium by seven hundredths in fourth.

The Italian had surgery in November and missed a parallel World Cup event in Austria.

He attempted a comeback to racing in a slalom on the lower-ranked European Cup circuit last week but failed to finish his opening run of the event in Val di Passa, before skipping a second race at the same resort the following day.

But Vinatzer looked back to his best upon his return to the World Cup on Monday.

Competing on the World Cup since 2017, Vinatzer has recorded three top-10 results, with a third-place finish in Zagreb, Croatia in January his personal best.

The men’s slalom season is starting late following changes to the usual calendar amid anti-coronavirus measures.

A night slalom is scheduled in Madonna di Campiglio on Tuesday. A TV and live stream schedule is here.

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U.S. women’s basketball team scores most points in FIBA World Cup history

Brionna Jones
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SYDNEY — A’ja Wilson and the U.S. put on quite a show, breaking the World Cup scoring mark in a record rout of South Korea.

Brionna Jones scored 24 points and Wilson added 20 to help the U.S. beat South Korea 145-69 on Monday. Shakira Austin’s layup with 9 seconds left helped the Americans break Brazil’s record of 143 points set in 1990.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a team that can score the basketball like this,” Wilson said. “This is crazy, we put up 145 points. I think when you look at us and just knowing how talented we are, we just came together and we play together very, very well.”

The U.S. always has the most talented and deepest roster of any team in the World Cup with 12 WNBA stars on the roster. Still, the Americans had never come close to that sort of offensive output during it’s storied World Cup history. The previous team record was 119 points against Angola in 2014 and China in 2006. The scoring margin was also the biggest in U.S. history as well surpassing the 75-point win over Angola in 2014.

The win was also the 26th in a row in World Cup play for the Americans, who haven’t lost since the 2006 semifinals when they fell to Russia. The U.S. also won 26 in a row from 1994-2006. The Soviet Union holds the World Cup record with 56 straight wins from 1959-1986.

MORE: FIBA World Cup Results

What started with Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Sylvia Fowles has now been passed on to Breanna Stewart and Wilson. A legacy of excellence that doesn’t look like it’s ending anytime soon.

The U.S. (4-0), which has been playing stellar defense, was challenged by South Korea early. The teams were trading baskets for the first 8 minutes and it was tied at 21 before the Americans took control, scoring the final 11 points of the period.

Kahleah Copper came off the bench for the first time of the tournament and scored six points during that spurt. The Americans kept the streak going to start the second quarter, scoring nine of the first 11 points to put the game away.

By the time the game reached the half the U.S. was up 68-40, including scoring 44 points in the paint against the undersized Koreans.

“We were trying to get the ball inside,” Jones said. “We had an advantage there.”

The only suspense in the second half was how many records the Americans could break. They took down their own scoring mark on Sabrina Ionescu’s 3-pointer with 6:15 left in the game and kept putting up points with Austin’s layup capping off the contest.

Other records broken on Monday included the 62 field goals made, 36 assists and 94 points in the paint.

“Our size was a problem for them and I thought we shared the ball,” U.S. coach Cheryl Reeve said.

The Americans were well rested for the game after having their first day off of the tournament on Sunday.

Despite the rout, South Korea (1-3) can still advance to the quarterfinals with a win over Puerto Rico on Tuesday.

Leeseul Kang, who had 37 points in a win over Bosnia and Herzegovina, scored 10 points. Hyejin Park had 17 to lead the team.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup
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The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium 85, Bosnia and Herzegovina 55 Group A
11:30 p.m. Serbia 81, Mali 68 Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA 145, South Korea 69 Group A
2 a.m. France 67, Japan 53 Group B
3:30 a.m. China vs. Puerto Rico Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Canada Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. South Korea Group A
11:30 p.m. Belgium vs. China Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
2 a.m. Canada vs. Mali Group B
3:30 a.m. France vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Japan Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. Quarterfinal
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
4 a.m. Quarterfinal
6:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
Fri., Sept. 30 3 .m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final