Matthias Mayer, three-time Olympic Alpine skiing champion, retires in TV interview

Matthias Mayer
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Austrian Matthias Mayer, an Alpine skiing gold medalist at each of the last three Olympics, announced a shock retirement at age 32.

Mayer delivered the news in a TV interview after inspection for Thursday’s World Cup super-G in Bormio, Italy, which he did not race. He did not start a downhill on Wednesday after posting the third- and fourth-fastest downhill training runs earlier in the week.

“Last season was fantastic with the third Olympic gold medal and I have started well in the new season and I’m satisfied. But it’s enough,” Mayer said on ORF, according to an Associated Press translation. “I’ve done my last course inspection today and that’s it. I don’t have that fire anymore. The sport is very important for the people and it should go on, but for me it’s OK.”

Mayer, after four top-five finishes in six starts this season, said he had been thinking about the decision the last few days.

Mayer, then 23, was the surprise 2014 Olympic downhill champion, then having zero World Cup wins and zero World Cup downhill podiums to his name. He remains the youngest Olympic men’s downhill champion since 1980, according to Olympedia.org. It marked Austria’s first Olympic men’s Alpine medal since 2006 after the men missed every podium at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

He came back from breaking the sixth and seventh vertebrae in his back in a December 2015 crash (and missing nearly one year) to win the Olympic super-G in 2018 and 2022. His father, Helmut, took super-G silver at the 1988 Calgary Games.

Mayer tied Toni Sailer for the most Alpine golds in the history of Austria, the most successful nation in the sport. He is the lone male Alpine skier to take gold at three consecutive Olympics.

The 2022 Olympic downhill champion, Swiss Beat Feuz, announced earlier this month that he will retire in January at age 35.

Their departures will leave men’s Alpine skiing without any active Olympic speed event champions (downhill or super-G) for the first time since 2010.

The active Olympic men’s Alpine gold medalists are 2022 champions Marco Odermatt (giant slalom), Clément Noël (slalom) and Johannes Strolz (combined), plus 2010 slalom champion Giuliano Razzoli, who is 38. Mikaela Shiffrin is the lone 2014 Olympic Alpine gold medalist who hasn’t retired.

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Scotty James wins fifth X Games snowboard halfpipe title

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Scotty James doesn’t have Olympic gold, but he remains king of the X Games halfpipe.

James, the Australian snowboarder who took bronze and silver at the last two Olympics, earned his fifth Aspen gold, repeating as champ of the biggest annual contest under falling snow in the Colorado Rockies. Only the retired Shaun White has more X Games men’s snowboard halfpipe titles with eight.

Nobody on Friday night attempted a triple cork, which was first done in competition by Japan’s Ayumu Hirano last season en route to the Olympic title. Hirano placed sixth Friday.

“It was a tough night, pretty interesting conditions,” James said. “Had to adjust the game plan. The show goes on.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression over the course of a three-run jam session for the entire field rather than scoring individual runs.

Earlier, Olympic gold medalist Zoi Sadowski-Synnott of New Zealand repeated as women’s snowboard slopestyle champion, passing Olympic bronze medalist Tess Coady of Australia on the final run of the competition. Sadowski-Synnott, the only snowboarder or skier to win Olympic, world and X Games slopestyle titles, capped her finale with back-to-back 900s.

The competition lacked 2014 and 2018 Olympic champion Jamie Anderson, who announced her pregnancy last month.

Canada’s Megan Oldham landed the first triple cork in women’s ski big air competition history to beat Olympic silver medalist Tess Ledeux of France, according to commentators. Oldham, a 21-year-old ex-gymnast, was fourth at the Olympics.

Eileen Gu, the Olympic champion from China, did not compete but is entered in halfpipe and slopestyle later this weekend.

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Isabeau Levito wins U.S. figure skating title at age 15, followed by comeback stories

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Isabeau Levito won her first U.S. figure skating title at age 15, cementing her status as the new leading American woman to open the new Olympic cycle.

Levito, the world junior champion, tallied 223.33 points between two strong programs in San Jose, California. She distanced two-time U.S. champion Bradie Tennell, who went 19 months between competitions due to foot and ankle injuries in 2021 and 2022 and scored 213.12.

Tennell was just two hundredths behind Levito after Thursday’s short but had multiple jumping errors in the free skate.

Levito followed her as last to go in the free and nailed the most pressure-packed performance of her young career, including the hardest jump combination done of the entire field. She didn’t receive a single negative mark from a judge for her 19 technical elements in her two programs.

Moments later, she was in tears backstage.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

“I was just so proud of myself for staying so calm and staying so focused, doing exactly what I aimed to do,” Levito, who hasn’t finished off the podium in more than 20 events dating to November 2016, said on NBC. “I’m ready to start bouncing off the walls.”

Amber Glenn, 23, placed third and will likely become the oldest U.S. women’s singles skater to make her world championships debut in at least 45 years. Glenn botched her 11th attempt to join the list of U.S. women to land a clean triple Axel (tally according to Skatingscores.com) but still moved up from fourth after the short program, passing Starr Andrews.

Last year, Glenn entered nationals as the fourth-ranked U.S. woman and a hopeful for the three-woman Olympic team. She placed 14th in the short program, competing unknowingly with COVID-19, then tested positive and withdrew before the free skate.

In 2021, Glenn was the U.S. silver medalist, yet passed over for a spot on the two-woman world team in favor of the more experienced Karen Chen, who finished 35 hundredths behind Glenn at those nationals.

Levito, Tennell and Glenn are expected to make up the team for March’s world championships, decided by a committee.

Gracie Gold, a two-time U.S. champion who was fifth after the short program, popped a pair of planned triple Lutzes and dropped to eighth.

None of the three 2022 U.S. Olympians competed. Alysa Liu and Mariah Bell retired. Chen is a student at Cornell and might not return.

Nationals continue Saturday with the free dance and pairs’ free skate, live on NBC Sports and Peacock.

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