Alpine skiing World Cup Finals downhills canceled, ending season title races

Sofia Goggia
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Italian Sofia Goggia and Swiss Beat Feuz clinched the World Cup downhill season titles after the last scheduled downhill races this winter were canceled in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

The World Cup Finals downhills on Wednesday were called off after snowfall and winds forced the cancellation of training runs on three consecutive days. By rule, World Cup Finals races cannot be rescheduled.

Goggia, who was to race for the first time since fracturing a bone in her right knee in a Jan. 31 crash, secured her second World Cup downhill season title.

Though Goggia missed two World Cup downhills in February, the Olympic champion held on to a 70-point lead over Swiss Corinne Suter thanks to four consecutive wins in December and January.

MORE: World Cup Finals TV Schedule

Feuz, 34, joined Austrian legend Franz Klammer as the only men to win four consecutive World Cup downhill season titles. Feuz rallied this season after being in fifth place through three of seven downhills, finishing 68 points ahead of Austrian Matthias Mayer, the 2014 Olympic downhill gold medalist.

Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde led the downhill standings in mid-January when he suffered a season-ending right knee ligament injury.

American Ryan Cochran-Siegle was third in the downhill standings when he suffered a season-ending neck fracture in the famed Hahnenkamm race in Kitzbuehel, Austria, in late January.

The World Cup Finals are now due to start Thursday with super-G races. Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami already clinched the women’s super-G season title. Austrian Vincent Kriechmayr has a hefty 83-point lead over Swiss Marco Odermatt in the men’s standings.

The overall titles are also at stake this week. Slovakian Petra Vlhova leads Gut-Behrami by 96 points. Frenchman Alexis Pinturault leads Odermatt by 31 points.

Race winners receive 100 points, second place gets 80, third place gets 60 and fourth place gets 50 points on a scale that continues to descend.

ON HER TURF: Alpine skiers explain: ‘What Mikaela Shiffrin taught me’

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Kelly Cheng, Sara Hughes, beach volleyball’s new sensation, win World Tour Finals

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In just a few months since reuniting, Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes have become not just the best women’s beach volleyball team in the U.S., but also, arguably, the world.

Cheng and Hughes, former partners who got back together for a 2024 Olympic run, won the World Tour Finals for the biggest title for a U.S. pair since April Ross and Alix Klineman took gold in Tokyo.

The 27-year-old Californians swept reigning world champions Duda and Ana Patricia of Brazil 21-18, 21-16 in Sunday’s final in Doha.

Cheng and Hughes have entered four tournaments since reuniting last fall and won all of them — once on the domestic AVP tour and now three international events.

They are rolling into the start of the 2024 Olympic qualifying window next week. It’s likely that the top two U.S. women’s pairs across international events over the course of the next 18 months qualify for the Paris Games.

Cheng and Hughes were previously NCAA champion teammates at USC, then the most promising, young U.S. pro team before splitting in 2018. Cheng made the Tokyo Olympics with Sarah Sponcil (lost in the round of 16), while Hughes’ Tokyo bid flamed out when partner Summer Ross suffered a back injury in 2019.

“It was a lot of the unknown and being young and kind of immature and listening to maybe outside forces and not really knowing how to deal with things as well,” Hughes said in October of their past breakup. “We’ve pretty much moved past that in our relationship. Moving forward with one another, we’re completely different players, and we’re a lot more mature. It feels like the right time. The past is past. We’re just moving forward.”

Cheng and Hughes have taken over from April Ross and Klineman as the top U.S. team. After winning Olympic gold, Klineman underwent shoulder surgery in January 2022 and last week announced she is pregnant and may return from childbirth for a “last-second” 2024 Olympic qualifying bid.

April Ross, a 40-year-old with an Olympic medal of every color, last competed in March, then withdrew before June’s world championships, where she was entered with Emily Day, with an unspecified injury. She has not announced if or when she plans to return to competition.

The U.S. earned at least one beach volleyball medal at every Olympics that the sport has been on the program (since 1996), and a men’s or women’s gold at all but one Olympics. Eighteen months out from the Paris Games, Cheng and Hughes are the best hope to keep the podium streak going.

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Germany opens bobsled worlds with double gold; Kaillie Humphries gets silver

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Germans Laura Nolte and Johannes Lochner dethroned the reigning Olympic and world champions to open the world bobsled championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, this weekend.

Nolte, the Olympic two-woman champion driver, won the four-run monobob by four tenths of a second over American Kaillie Humphries, who won the first world title in the event in 2021 and the first Olympic title in the event in 2022. Another German, Lisa Buckwitz, took bronze.

In the two-man, Lochner became the first driver to beat countryman Francesco Friedrich in an Olympic or world championships event since 2016, ending Friedrich’s record 12-event streak at global championships between two-man and four-man.

Friedrich, defeated by 49 hundredths, saw his streak of seven consecutive world two-man titles also snapped.

Lochner, 32, won his first outright global title after seven Olympic or world silvers, plus a shared four-man gold with Friedrich in 2017.

Swiss Michael Vogt drove to bronze, one hundredth behind Friedrich. Geoff Gadbois and Martin Christofferson filled the top American sled in 18th.

Americans Steven Holcomb and Steven Langton were the last non-Germans to win a world two-man title in 2012.

Bobsled worlds finish next weekend with the two-woman and four-man events.

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