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

Matthias Mayer
Getty Images
0 Comments

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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

Teri McKeever
Getty
0 Comments

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
Getty
0 Comments

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!