Laurenne Ross, Resi Stiegler, Alice McKennis Duran end ski careers defined by comebacks

Laurenne Ross
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Laurenne RossResi Stiegler and Alice McKennis Duran, who combined for seven Olympic appearances and more than 400 World Cup starts while coming back from injury after injury, decided to make this past season their last in top-level Alpine skiing.

Ross, a 32-year-old who overcame concussions, a shattered pelvis, double-digit shoulder dislocations, an ACL blowout, a hip tear, bulging discs, severe ankle sprains and more than 200 stitches in her face, announced her final race will be at the U.S. Championships that finish next week in Aspen, Colorado.

“From the community to the thrills, the injuries and pain, the sights, the flow, the love and the growth, I’m so grateful for every single part of my adventure through ski racing,” was posted on Ross’ social media. “It feels like I’m about to lose an enormous part of myself, but I am comforted by the gut feeling that “it’s time.”

Ross was the only American woman to race the downhill at both the 2014 Olympics and 2018 Olympics, her top finish 11th in Sochi. She also made two World Cup podiums — three years apart — and was fifth in the 2017 World Championships downhill.

She came back from an ACL tear at the March 2017 U.S. Championships to make the 2018 Olympic team. In downhill training at the 2019 World Championships, she crashed and suffered major left knee injuries that required surgery.

Ross sat out the 2019-20 season, then reinjured the left knee training giant slalom in November 2020. She returned in January for her final World Cup races, a 23rd her final finish on the circuit.

“I am fulfilled with what I’ve experienced, and am ready to let go of the ‘what ifs’ and untapped potential,” was posted on her social media. “It’s like I’m standing in the start gate of a course I’ve never raced on before. Except I haven’t inspected and there are so many unknowns that I’m about to face: dragons, math equations, good trouble, and fireworks.”

Stiegler, 35, was for a time the U.S.’ top female slalom skier, bridging the gap between six-time World Cup race winner Kristina Koznick and the emergence of Mikaela Shiffrin.

Stiegler recorded 16 World Cup top-10s from 2004 through 2007, then earned her one podium in 2012, coming back from a fractured tibia and femur that kept her out of the 2010 Olympics.

She tore her left ACL two weeks after that podium and worked her way back onto the national team and into two more Olympics. Her best Olympic finish was in her first Olympic race, 11th in the combined in 2006.

Stiegler, the daughter of three-time Olympic medalist Pepi Stiegler of Austria, once got out of a speeding ticket in Austria by claiming to be Lindsey Vonn. She often raced with tiger ears glued on her helmet from 2004-06.

“No words can explain any of it,” was posted on Stiegler’s social media after her World Cup farewell run, where she wore the tiger ears. “Let the memories and stories live on. I love it so much and I’m so thankful for it all.”

McKennis Duran, 31, said the word “abundant” came to mind when looking back on her career.

“An abundant amount of injuries, risk, effort and dedication, but most importantly I feel my career was abundant in so many positive and memorable ways,” was posted on her social media. “It’s time to step away from ski racing.”

McKennis Duran won a World Cup downhill in St. Anton, Austria, on Jan. 12, 2013, and had no top-10s in the following five years before finishing fifth in the 2018 Olympic downhill. In between, she missed the 2014 Sochi Olympics after shattering her right tibial plateau into about 30 pieces in a March 2013 crash. She received 11 screws, a metal plate and an 11-inch scar that she affectionately called “The Shark.”

She then missed the entire 2018-19 season after suffering a transverse fracture of her tibia and fibula while coaching at the American Downhiller camp in May 2018.

McKennis Duran’s final World Cup race was last Dec. 18, when she fractured her right ankle in a crash. She said she underwent surgery in nine of her 12 years on the World Cup, including five season-ending injuries. She will take her final lap before Saturday’s U.S. Alpine Championship downhill, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships scores, results

2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships
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Full scores and results from the 2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose …

Women’s Short Program
1. Isabeau Levito — 73.78
2. Bradie Tennell — 73.76
3. Starr Andrews — 68.97
4. Amber Glenn — 68.96
5. Gracie Gold — 67.44
6. Lindsay Thorngren — 62.64
7. Clare Seo — 61.48
8. Ava Ziegler — 61.09
9. Audrey Shin — 60.76
10. Ting Cui — 57.11
11. Josephine Lee — 55.60
12. Lindsay Wang — 52.19
13. Sonja Hilmer — 51.16
14. Michelle Lee — 46.71
15. Gabriella Izzo — 45.73
16. Alexa Gasparotto — 45.00
17. Elsa Cheng — 44.36
18. Hanna Harrell — 42.84

Pairs Short Program
1. Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier — 81.96
2. Emily Chan/Spencer Howe — 66.86
3. Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea —- 65.75
4. Valentina Plazas/Maximiliano Fernandez — 63.45
5. Sonia Baram/Danil Tioumentsev —- 63.12
6. Katie McBeath/Nathan Bartholomay —- 56.96
7. Nica Digerness/Mark Sadusky — 50.72
8. Maria Mokhova/Ivan Mokhov —- 46.96
9. Grace Hanns / Danny Neudecker — 46.81
10. Linzy Fitzpatrick/Keyton Bearinger — 45.27
11. Nina Ouellette/Rique Newby-Estrella — 43.99

Rhythm Dance
1. Madison Chock/Evan Bates — 91.90
2. Caroline Green/Michael Parsons — 81.40
3. Emilea Zingas/Vadym Kolesnik — 78.18
4. Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko — 77.37
5. Lorraine McNamara/Anton Spiridonov — 76.23
6. Emily Bratti/Ian Somerville — 75.91
7. Eva Pate/Logan Bye — 75.52
8. Isabella Flores/Ivan Desyatov — 73.91
9. Oona Brown/Gage Brown — 72.80
10. Katarina Wolfkostin/Jeffrey Chen — 69.05
11. Angela Ling/Caleb Wein — 68.53
12. Leah Krauskopf/YuanShi Jin — 52.59
13. Cara Murphy/Joshua Levitt — 50.88
14. Caroline Depietri/TJ Carey — 48.28
WD. Raffaella Koncius/Alexey Shchepetov

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | New Era for U.S.

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Isabeau Levito, 15, delivers in figure skating nationals short program as favorite

Isabeau Levito
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Isabeau Levito, the 15-year-old favorite, delivered in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships short program, taking the lead into Friday’s free skate.

Levito, third in her senior nationals debut last year, tallied 73.78 points in a clean short on Thursday in San Jose, California.

She edged the comebacking two-time U.S. champion Bradie Tennell by two hundredths of a point. Starr Andrews was third, one hundredth ahead of Amber Glenn, looking to make her first world championships.

A committee selects the three-woman team for worlds shortly after the free skate.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Levito, a New Jersey native who started skating at 3 and a half and has been with the same coach since age 4, developed a steely reputation as a competitor. That mixes with her artistic comparisons to 2006 Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen and her inspiration, Johnny Weir. She hasn’t missed a podium at a competition she has completed at any level since November 2016.

It’s seemed like Levito has been destined to be the leading U.S. woman in the 2026 Olympic cycle, leading up to the Winter Games in her mom’s hometown of Milan. She was too young for last year’s Olympics, but would have just missed the team had she been age-eligible.

None of the three 2022 U.S. Olympians are competing this season — Alysa Liu and Mariah Bell retired; Karen Chen is studying at Cornell — paving the way for Levito to ascend.

That she did, winning April’s junior worlds to become the first U.S. woman to win a global title — junior or senior — since 2008.

Then this past fall, Levito placed second in her first two senior Grand Prix starts, then placed a surprising second at December’s Grand Prix Final, which gathered the world’s top six women from across the series.

Granted, the Final was her lowest point total of her five international events this season. All six skaters had multiple jumping errors in the free skate.

Levito ranks fifth in the world by best total score this season, fourth among seniors and a whopping 18.13 points better than the No. 2 American. Note the absence of Russia, which has dominated women’s skating for the last decade.

Levito won’t be worrying about her international standing while sitting on an overnight lead. She has work left in Friday’s free skate to win what could be the first in a series of national titles.

Tennell had her best short program since coming back from a 19-month competition break due to foot and ankle injuries. She was forced to miss last year’s nationals, ruling her out of Olympic contention.

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