More Alpine skiing World Cup Finals races canceled, overall title chases near end

Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals
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Slovakian Petra Vlhova and Frenchman Alexis Pinturault moved closer to their first overall titles after Alpine skiing World Cup Finals races were canceled for a second consecutive day on Thursday.

Adverse weather, notably fog, wiped out the women’s and men’s super-Gs in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, after all of the downhill training runs and downhill races were canceled due to snowfall and winds from Monday through Wednesday.

By rule, World Cup Finals races cannot be rescheduled. A mixed-gender team event is scheduled Friday.

MORE: World Cup Finals TV Schedule

That means that Vlhova takes a 96-point lead into the last two individual races, a Saturday slalom and Sunday giant slalom, over Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami. On a descending scale of points, a race winner receives 100.

Vlhova, the 2019 World champion in the giant slalom and world No. 1 in the slalom, likely clinches the crown on Saturday given Gut-Behrami last raced a slalom in 2017. No Slovakian has won a World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing.

The 2016 overall champion Gut-Behrami’s best chances to make up ground on Vlhova were in the downhill and super-G. She’s ranked Nos. 3 and 1 in the world in those disciplines, respectively, but missed opportunities to rack up more points with Wednesday and Thursday cancellations.

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Similarly in the men’s title race, Pinturault benefited from not holding the speed races. The 29-year-old Frenchman, the most successful male World Cup skier yet to win an overall, leads 23-year-old Swiss Marco Odermatt by 31 points.

While Odermatt and Pinturault rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the world in giant slalom (scheduled for Saturday for the men), Odermatt hasn never raced a World Cup slalom. Pinturault ranks eighth in the world in slalom, making two podiums this season.

Odermatt is a stronger speed-events skier and particularly strong in super-G. He ranks second in the world in that event, but with Thursday’s cancellation, the season title went to Austrian Vincent Kriechmayr, who finished with an 83-point advantage.

Mikaela Shiffrin is due to race the slalom and GS this weekend. She won the slalom season title six of the last eight years, the outliers being when she missed races. This year, having started every slalom, she trails Vlhova by 37 points.

Even with a win, Shiffrin would need help to move from third place to first in the final standings. If Vlhova finishes first or second, she takes the crystal globe.

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

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Saudi Arabia to host 2029 Asian Winter Games

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Saudi Arabia will host the Asian Winter Games in 2029 in mountains near the $500 billion futuristic city project Neom.

The Olympic Council of Asia on Tuesday picked the Saudi candidacy that centers on Trojena that is planned to be a year-round ski resort by 2026.

“The deserts & mountains of Saudi Arabia will soon be a playground for Winter sports!” the OCA said in a statement announcing its decision.

Saudi sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said the kingdom’s winter sports project “challenges perception” in a presentation of the plan to OCA members.

“Trojena is the future of mountain living,” the minister said of a region described as an area of about 60 square kilometers at altitude ranging from 1,500 to 2,600 meters.

The Neom megaproject is being fund by the Saudi sovereign wealth vehicle, the Public Investment Fund.

Saudi Arabia also will host the Asian Games in 2034 in Riyadh as part of aggressive moves to build a sports hosting portfolio and help diversify the economy from reliance on oil.

A campaign to host soccer’s 2030 World Cup is expected with an unprecedented three-continent bid including Egypt and Greece.

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Jim Redmond, who helped son Derek finish 1992 Olympic race, dies

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Jim Redmond, who helped his injured son, Derek, finish his 1992 Olympic 400m semifinal, died at age 81 on Sunday, according to the British Olympic Association, citing family members.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Derek pulled his right hamstring 15 seconds into his 400m semifinal, falling to the track in anguish.

He brushed off help from officials, got up and began limping around the track. About 120 meters from the finish line, he felt the presence of an uncredentialed man who rushed down the stadium stairs, dodged officials and said, “We started this together, and we’re going to finish this together,” according to Olympedia.org.

“As I turned into the home straight, I could sense this person was about to try and stop me,” Derek said in an NBC Olympics profile interview before the 2012 London Games. “I was just about to get ready to sort of fend them off, and then I heard a familiar voice of my dad. He said, ‘Derek, it’s me. You don’t need to do this.'”

Derek said he shouted to his dad that he wanted to finish the race.

“He was sort of saying things like, ‘You’ve got nothing to prove. You’re a champion. You’ll come back. You’re one of the best guys in the world. You’re a true champion. You’ve got heart. You’re going to get over this. We’ll conquer the world together,'” Derek remembered. “I’m just sort of saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.'”

At one point, Derek noticed stadium security, not knowing who Jim was, having removed guns from their holsters.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever heard my dad use bad language,” Derek said. “He just goes, ‘Leave him alone, I’m his father.'”

Derek told himself in that moment, “I’m going to finish this race if it’s the last race I ever run.” It turned out to be the last 400m race of his career, after surgery and 18 months of rehab were not enough to yield a competitive comeback, according to Sports Illustrated.

Derek had missed the 1988 Seoul Games after tearing an Achilles, reportedly while warming up for his opening race. He looked strong in Barcelona, winning his first-round heat and quarterfinal.

“I’d rather be seen to be coming last in the semifinal than not finish in the semifinal,” he said, “because at least I can say I gave it my best.”