Vincent Kriechmayr wins Kitzbuehel downhill; U.S. men’s podium drought nearly ends

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Austrian Vincent Kriechmayr won the famed Hahnenkamm downhill in Kitzbuehel for the first time, while Jared Goldberg nearly became the first American since 2014 to make the podium in men’s Alpine skiing’s crown jewel World Cup race.

Kriechmayr, the reigning world champion in the downhill and super-G, prevailed by 23 hundredths of a second in his home nation over Italian Florian Schieder, a 27-year-old whose best previous World Cup finish was 13th.

“The Streif is a myth, a legend. For an Austrian downhiller the most important race,” said Kriechmayr, who also won two downhills in Italy in December. “To win in Kitzbuehel, it’s just amazing. It’s the most important World Cup race of the season. I tried, I tried everything. I pushed. It was not a perfect run but it was totally on the limit.”

Schieder was the 43rd starter — the world’s best go in the top 30 — and knocked Goldberg off the podium.

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Goldberg, 31, still posted a personal-best fourth-place finish in his 146th World Cup start, but the U.S. men’s Alpine podium drought continues. In 2022, the U.S. earned zero men’s World Cup podiums in a year for the first time since 1998.

Pre-race favorites Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway and Marco Odermatt of Switzerland narrowly avoided high-speed crashes.

Kilde, the world’s top-ranked downhiller, was 16th, his lowest result in a World Cup speed race that he’s finished in four years.

The Norwegian lost time on Kriechmayr early on but gained on the Austrian at every following split. He then seemed to risk too much in the bend approaching the finish stretch. He leaned backward and came off the course, but regained control just before hitting a commercial banner.

“That was close, really close, almost too close,” Kilde said. “It really happened so quick. When I landed, I collapsed a little bit, and everything happens so fast. It’s Kitzbuehel, it’s how it is.”

Odermatt, whose best events are super-G and giant slalom, was 54th of 58 racers, his first finish lower than seventh in any event this season.

Odermatt, the overall World Cup leader, lost grip about 25 seconds into his run. He regained balance with his right ski high up in the air but almost crashed into the safety netting. The Swiss skier avoided risks for the remainder of his run and finished more than three seconds behind.

Odermatt hurt his left knee in the incident and will sit out the second downhill on Saturday while undergoing further tests, the Swiss ski team said.

Olympic champion Beat Feuz of Switzerland, a three-time Hahnenkamm downhill winner, was 28th. Feuz, 35, has said he is retiring after Saturday’s second downhill in Kitzbuehel.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Scotty James wins fifth X Games snowboard halfpipe title

Scotty James
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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.

ON HER TURF: U.S. freeskier Maggie Voisin on grief, loss, finding motivation

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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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