Sofia Goggia crashes, injured in World Cup race as Olympics approach

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Sofia Goggia is going to need to recover in a hurry from a series of injuries following another crash on Sunday if she’s going to be able to defend her Olympic downhill title next month.

Goggia would have been an overwhelming favorite for another gold — or two: she’s also a force in super-G.

But she sprained her left knee, partially tore a cruciate ligament and suffered a “minor fracture” of the fibula bone in her leg — plus some tendon damage — when she did the splits at high speed then tumbled down the mountain during a World Cup super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo, the Italian ski team said after a medical evaluation in Milan.

Goggia will start physical rehab on Monday with the aim of returning in time for the downhill at the Beijing Olympics on Feb. 15.

She’ll therefore likely miss the Olympic giant slalom on Feb. 7 and the super-G on Feb. 11. She’ll need to enter at least one downhill training session on Feb. 12, 13 or 14 to compete in the downhill — but preferably all three on a new course that she’s never been on before.

“I’m upset,” Goggia said. “It’s not a break that I needed in such an important time of the season but I’m already going to start physical therapy in the coming hours, with the aim of trying to defend the Olympic title in the event that I love most.”

Goggia was nominated to carry Italy’s flag at the Opening Ceremony.

Her partially torn ligament was already operated on in 2013.

The make-or-break Goggia also had a high-speed crash during a downhill at Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria, last weekend. She escaped serious injury in that crash but was banged up to the point that she said she couldn’t walk on Monday.

Like the crash in Austria, Goggia’s latest fall occurred on a section of the Cortina course where shadows made visibility difficult.

Goggia was 0.07 seconds behind teammate Elena Curtoni — the race winner — at the second checkpoint when she made an error and had to check her skis to stay within the course.

Goggia then lost control as her skis rattled on the hard surface. She ended up doing the splits, was bumped into the air and landed on her back before tumbling down the course, through the next gate, eventually coming to a stop without hitting the safety nets.

After being tended to briefly, Goggia clicked back into her skis and made her way down to the finish under her own power. But she was visibly discouraged and hobbled away with the help of two team members.

Goggia wasn’t the only skier who struggled on a difficult course-set that resulted in 22 of 57 racers not finishing.

Goggia missed her home world championships in Cortina last season after breaking a bone in her right knee. She has won six World Cup races this season — four in downhill, including on Saturday with another wild run in Cortina, and two in super-G.

Overall World Cup leader Mikaela Shiffrin took few risks and placed 16th in Sunday’s race.

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Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here with redactions.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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