Travis Ganong, set to retire, ends U.S. men’s Alpine skiing podium drought in Kitzbuehel

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American Travis Ganong appears headed into retirement with a podium in the biggest annual Alpine skiing race.

Ganong finished third in the famed Hahnenkamm downhill in snowy Kitzbuehel, Austria, on Saturday, one day after saying he plans to retire at the end of this season at age 34.

“My goal all season was to perform here. This is the biggest race,” said Ganong, who skied in front of Lindsey Vonn and Arnold Schwarzenegger. “If that was my last run down it, I am pretty happy. I love this hill. My goal is always to win here, but to podium would be pretty good, too.”

Aleksandr Aamodt Kilde won to become the first man with five World Cup downhill victories in one season since Austrian Stephan Eberharter in 2001-02.

The Norwegian fractured a bone in his right hand during Thursday’s training, then needed an acrobatic recovery in the race the next day to escape a fall near the end of his run, which he called “scary.”

Frenchman Johan Clarey finished second, 67 hundredths behind. At 42 years old, Clarey broke his own record as the oldest Alpine skier to make a World Cup podium, doing so for the second time this season.

Ganong was 95 hundredths back to become the first American man to make an Alpine World Cup podium since December 2021. In 2022, no U.S. man made a World Cup podium in a year for the first time since 1998.

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Ganong was seventh in the first of two Kitzbuehel downhills on Friday, after which he voiced retirement plans.

“I’m pretty ready to start doing some new things,” Ganong said, according to The Associated Press. ”It’s been 18 years on the U.S. team. I’m happy with what I’ve done. I’ve been among the best for a long time.”

The California native Ganong’s career highlight was taking downhill silver at the 2015 World Championships in Beaver Creek, Colorado. It remains the best finish in an Olympic or world championships downhill for a U.S. man since since Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves went one-two at the 2005 Worlds.

Ganong’s best Olympic finish was in his first Olympic race, fifth in the downhill at the 2014 Sochi Games. It is the best U.S. men’s downhill finish in the last three Olympics.

Ganong has two World Cup wins, later in 2014, then in January 2017. He then tore an ACL in a downhill crash in Bormio, Italy on Dec. 28, 2017, ruling him out of the 2018 Olympics and ending that season.

Ganong came back to make his fifth and, until Saturday, most recent World Cup podium in December 2021, then placed 12th and 20th in two Olympic races last year.

The last American to make a Kitzbuehel downhill podium was Miller in 2014. Rahlves is the only American to win a World Cup downhill in Kitzbuehel, doing so in 2003.

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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