Hannes Reichelt, world champion Alpine skier, retires at 40

Hannes Reichelt
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Austrian Alpine skier Hannes Reichelt kept winning races after returning from several severe knee and back injuries that hampered his career.

The 2015 World champion’s latest setback, however, was one too many.

The 40-year-old Reichelt said Wednesday he will retire at this week’s World Cup Finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

The announcement came six years after the Austrian won the biggest prize of his two-decade-long career — super-G gold at the world championships in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

“I’ve got the feeling that after 20 years on the World Cup the time has come to leave,” Reichelt said.

He failed to get back to the top level after damaging his right knee in a downhill crash in December 2019 and didn’t make the Austrian team for the worlds in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, last month.

“In races I was struggling more and more to get to the limit. To me it was clear: I race to the fullest or not at all,” Reichelt said.

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Reichelt did not qualify for this season’s World Cup Finals but was planning to ski down the super-G course on a farewell run as one of the forerunners ahead of Thursday’s race.

Reichelt has won 13 World Cup races, including the classic downhill in Kitzbühel, and had 44 podium results.

The Austrian won his home race in January 2014 while suffering from back pains. He could barely stand straight after finishing and needed surgery for a herniated disk the following day, ruling him out for the Sochi Olympics.

Another of his wins came in a super-G in 2005, only nine months after tearing an ACL.

Reichelt is also known for earning one the most unlikely discipline title wins in the 54-year history of the World Cup.

In 2008, he arrived at the Finals in Bormio, Italy, trailing leader Didier Cuche by 99 points in the super-G standings. Reichelt won the race to earn 100 points, and Cuche was ultimately bumped into 16th place by his Swiss teammate Daniel Albrecht — with only the top 15 earning World Cup points.

It would be the only crystal globe award for Reichelt, who also won super-G silver at the 2011 Worlds.

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French Open: Iga Swiatek rolls toward possible Coco Gauff rematch

Iga Swiatek

Iga Swiatek reached the French Open third round without dropping a set, eyeing a third Roland Garros title in four years. Not that she needed the help, but Swiatek’s immediate draw is wide open after the rest of the seeds in her section lost.

Swiatek dispatched 102nd-ranked American Claire Liu 6-4, 6-0 on Thursday, the same score as her first-round win. She gets 80th-ranked Wang Xinyu of China in the round of 32.

The other three seeds in Swiatek’s section all lost in the first round, so the earliest that the world No. 1 could play another seed is the quarterfinals. And that would be No. 6 Coco Gauff, who was runner-up to Swiatek last year.

Gauff plays her second-round match later Thursday against 61st-ranked Austrian Julia Grabher. Gauff also doesn’t have any seeds in her way before a possible Swiatek showdown.

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Swiatek, who turned 22 on Wednesday, came into this year’s French Open without the invincibility of a year ago, when she was 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury, but said it wasn’t serious. That diagnosis appears to have been spot-on through two matches this week, though her serve was broken twice in the first set of each match.

While the men’s draw has been upended by 14-time champion Rafael Nadal‘s pre-event withdrawal and No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev‘s loss in the first round, the top women have taken care of business.

Nos. 2, 3 and 4 seeds Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, American Jessica Pegula and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan also reached the third round without dropping a set.

Though all of them have beaten Swiatek in 2023, the Pole remains the favorite to lift the trophy a week from Saturday. She can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

She can also become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

Swiatek doesn’t dwell on it.

“I never even played Serena or Monica Seles,” she said. “I’m kind of living my own life and having my own journey.”

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Penny Oleksiak to miss world swimming championships

Penny Oleksiak

Seven-time Olympic medalist Penny Oleksiak of Canada will miss July’s world swimming championships because she does not expect to be recovered enough from knee and shoulder injuries.

“The bar that we set was, can she be as good as she’s ever been at these world championships?” coach Ryan Mallette said in a press release. “We just don’t feel like we’re going to be ready to be 100 percent yet this summer. Our focus is to get her back to 100 percent as soon as possible to get ready for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.”

Oleksiak, who owns the Canadian record of seven Olympic medals (across all sports), missed Canada’s trials meet for worlds two months ago due to the injuries. She was still named to the team at the time in hope that she would be ready in time for worlds.

The 22-year-old returned to competition last month at a Mare Nostrum meet in Barcelona, after which she chose to focus on continued rehab rather than compete at worlds in Fukuoka, Japan.

“Swimming at Mare Nostrum was a checkpoint for worlds, and I gave it my best shot,” Oleksiak said in the release. “We reviewed my swims there, and it showed me the level I want to get back to. Now I need to focus on my rehab to get back to where I want to be and put myself in position to be at my best next season.”

Oleksiak had knee surgery last year to repair a meniscus. After that, she developed a left shoulder injury.

In 2016, Oleksiak tied for Olympic 100m freestyle gold with American Simone Manuel. She also earned 100m butterfly silver in Rio and 200m free bronze in Tokyo, along with four relay medals between those two Games.

At last year’s worlds, she earned four relay medals and placed fourth in the 100m free.

She anchored the Canadian 4x100m free relay to silver behind Australia at the most recent Olympics and worlds.

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