Austria goes 1-2 in last Alpine skiing World Cup of 2020

Matthias Mayer
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BORMIO, Italy — Matthias Mayer ended Austria’s wait for its first victory of the Alpine skiing World Cup season by winning the classic downhill on the Stelvio on Wednesday in the last event of 2020.

In a spectacular race on one of the circuit’s most challenging courses, Mayer edged teammate Vincent Kriechmayr by four-hundredths of a second for an Austrian 1-2 finish.

“I was on the podium here last year and three years ago with the super-G, and now the victory, it feels amazing,” Mayer said.

Austria had failed to win any of this season’s previous 12 men’s and 10 women’s World Cup races.

Switzerland’s Urs Kryenbuehl was 0.06 behind in third as he claimed a third career podium result.

Dominik Paris, who has won the downhill on the slope in the Italian Alps four times, led Mayer by 0.08 at the second split time but at the end trailed by 0.13 in fourth.

Mayer, the 2014 Olympic downhill champion, mastered the bumpy course full of rolls and jumps, where racers reached speeds of up to 87 mph.

“It’s a very difficult slope and it was a tight race,” Mayer said.

“It’s very exhausting. We have a lot of turns that need a lot of power. The visibility is very difficult and also the snow conditions.”

Nils Allegre, Bryce Bennett and former overall champion Carlo Janka were among the racers who had nasty high-speed crashes, though they got up right away and were apparently unhurt as they skied down the slope.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle, who had his first career win in Tuesday’s super-G and posted the fastest times in both downhill training runs, was more than seven-tenths of a second ahead during his run, but lost time as he twice avoided crashes with acrobatic recoveries.

The American finished 0.30 off the lead in seventh for his third career top-10 result in downhill.

Mayer became the third different winner of a downhill this season, after Slovenia’s Martin Cater surprisingly won the first and defending overall champion Aleksander Aamodt Kilde the next.

A day after he was runner-up to Cochran-Siegle in the super-G, Kriechmayr finished second again.

“I am really happy with the race today, with my result,” said the Austrian, who came close to his first downhill win in almost two years.

“There are so many turns at the Stelvio but I think in the middle part I lost a little bit too much time against Matthias. The rest was pretty good,” said Kriechmayr, adding that “it’s one of the toughest races of the whole season, after Kitzbuehel maybe the most difficult one.”

Kilde finished sixth as the Norwegian reclaimed top spot in the overall standings, three points ahead of Alexis Pinturault, who doesn’t compete in downhills.

The Frenchman could get back into the lead next Wednesday at a slalom in Zagreb, Croatia, where Kilde won’t race.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

Joan Benoit Samuelson
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Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

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