For Petra Vlhova, Alpine skiing world championships are not the priority


CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy — If Petra Vlhova wins a medal at the world Alpine skiing championships, she’ll be more than happy to add it her collection.

If not, she’ll move on to her bigger goal this season: winning the overall World Cup title.

The 25-year-old Vlhova holds a slim lead over Lara Gut-Behrami in the overall standings entering worlds as she attempts to become the first Slovakian skier — man or woman — to claim the large crystal globe.

“The world championships are not the priority for us,” said Livio Magoni, Vlhova’s coach. “We want a medal but our real goal is the overall, because that would be something historic in Slovakia. We already have medals and we already have discipline titles. We want the big trophy.”

Indeed, Vlhova did win medals at the last two worlds: She helped Slovakia to a stunning silver medal in the team event in 2017 then was the breakout star of the 2019 edition in Are, Sweden, with one medal of each color: gold in giant slalom, silver in combined, and bronze in slalom.

Vlhova has also won four World Cup races this season — three slaloms and one parallel — to raise her career total to 18.


She’s the only skier to enter all 22 World Cup races this season across five different events. Her four wins came at the start of the season then her performance slipped somewhat before she responded with a second-place finish in the final race before worlds — a super-G in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

So Vlhova will be one to watch when the women’s super-G opens the weather-delayed worlds on Thursday.

“We created a summer program designed so that she could maintain her form for longer,” Magoni told The Associated Press. “Our tactic was to start the season super-strong and make everyone else chase us. Then to catch us they’ve got to do things they weren’t planning to do.”

In the past two seasons, Vlhova finished second and third, respectively, overall.

“Everything we’re doing was planned,” Magoni said. “The fatigue she was feeling recently was expected. And that’s why we sent her to the seaside for three days to relax with her family.”

Last week, Vlhova spent a few days in the coastal resort of Grado with her family. It’s where Magoni also sent Tina Maze for some rest when he coached the Slovenian to her record-breaking season and overall title in 2012-13.

Unlike most of her direct competitors, Vlhova has never raced in Cortina before. So the poor weather that pushed back the schedule has allowed her to familiarize herself with the Olympia delle Tofane course — at least to a certain degree.

“The only thing it can help with is that now she knows where the ski lift and team hospitality is,” Magoni said. “As far as the course, sure, we’ve inspected it now.”

Vlhova is planning to race the super-G, combined, parallel, giant slalom and slalom in Cortina.

Then it will be back to battling for the overall title, with only four stops remaining on the women’s circuit after worlds — one of which is in Vlhova’s home resort of Jasna.

Vlhova leads Gut-Behrami by 42 points, with Michelle Gisin also still in contention 182 points behind.

“Whoever wins the overall this year is really strong, because everyone is skiing well this season,” Magoni said. “There are seven athletes who could win gold in combined on Monday — that’s never been the case before.”

Vlhova, though, is chasing something bigger.

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Valencia Marathon produces historic times in men’s, women’s races

2022 Valencia Marathon

Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum and Ethiopian Amane Beriso won the Valencia Marathon and became the third-fastest man and woman in history, respectively.

Kiptum, a 23-year-old in his marathon debut, won the men’s race in 2 hours, 1 minute, 53 seconds. The only men to ever run faster over 26.2 miles are legends: Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:09 world record, plus a 2:01:39) and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (2:01:41).

Kipchoge made his marathon debut at age 28, and Bekele at 31.

Beriso, a 31-year-old whose personal best was 2:20:48 from January 2016, stunned the women’s field Sunday by running 2:14:58. The only women to have run faster: Kenyans Brigid Kosgei (2:14:04) and Ruth Chepngetich (2:14:18).

Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey finished second in 2:16:49, the fastest-ever time for a woman in her marathon debut. Gidey is the world record holder at 5000m and 10,000m.

Valencia is arguably the top annual marathon outside of the six World Marathon Majors. The next major marathon is Tokyo on March 5.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill


BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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