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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Isabeau Levito, Bradie Tennell, Amber Glenn named to U.S. team for World Championships

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SAN JOSE, Calif. – With a calm command belying her age, Isabeau Levito has taken control of U.S. women’s skating at age 15.

Levito came here as the solid favorite to take her first national title, and she did it with a seemingly effortless grace, her balletic style producing solid winning performances in both Thursday’s short program and Friday’s free skate.

She was the last of 18 skaters in the free skate, following rivals who made mistakes big and small. Levito did not need perfection, but her skating approached it, even if the execution of some jumps could have been better.

Levito left no doubt of her superiority and burst into a wide smile even before the scores were announced. After a narrow win over Bradie Tennell (.02 points) in the short program, Levito (223.33) wound up 10.21 points ahead of the runner-up Tennell (213.12) in the final standings.

Amber Glenn was third at 207.44. She, Levito and Tennell will fill the three women’s places on the U.S. team for the March World Championships in Japan.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Two of the three U.S. women’s skaters on the 2022 Olympic team have announced their retirements (Alysa Liu and Mariah Bell; Karen Chen is a student at Cornell and might not return). Given that and Tennell’s recurrent problems with injuries, Levito’s stature as the leading U.S. woman seemed assured. Whatever pressure she felt holding that position was not evident.

“My entire goal truly for both programs was to stay composed and to really try to suppress my nerves as much as possible and to really not let little minor silly mistakes happen,” Levito said. “I feel as though I did just that today and I’m very proud of myself for it.”

“I’ve gotten very good at suppressing nerves,” she had said after the short program. “I still feel the effects of the competition. But I find my own way mentally to handle it.”

For both Tennell and Glenn, there was a redemptive quality to their skating.

Neither had a result at last year’s nationals. Glenn had to withdraw after the short program when she tested positive for COVID. Tennell never made it to the event because of the foot injury that kept her out of competition for all last season.

“Honestly, it was terrifying being back here after the conclusion of my season last year,” Glenn said. “That was a big mental hurdle for me, but I was happy I was actually able to enjoy myself again and enjoy competing.”

Glenn made her 10th career attempt at a triple axel, stepping out of the landing after getting full rotational credit. Her persistence in trying that jump, which she never has landed cleanly, is one reason she was holding her hip after finishing the free skate. Glenn insisted it was just soreness.

“An unfortunate side effect of being 23 and doing these ultra (difficult) elements is my body can’t always keep up very well,” Glenn said.

Tennell, who turns 25 Tuesday, has been battling an injury in her right foot for more than a year, then an injury in her left foot since October. She fought past all that to make the podium for the fifth time in her last five nationals – twice first, twice second and once third.

“This one probably means the most, because I didn’t think I was going to be able to do this again,” Tennell said. “To be here and to have achieved it, especially after the (poor) start of my season and the bumps that I had to overcome, I’m very proud of what I accomplished.”

Levito, the reigning world junior champion, reeled off seven triple jumps, two in combination with other triple jumps. She glided from element to element seamlessly.

“I finally skated the free the way I’ve been training to do it,” she said.

Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 12 Winter Olympics, is a special contributor to NBCSports.com.

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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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