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Gian-Franco Kasper will step down after eventful run as International Ski Federation president

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International Ski Federation (FIS) President Gian-Franco Kasper announced on Saturday that he will step down from his office May 22 at the next International Ski Congress.

Kasper was named secretary general of the federation in 1975 and took over as president in 1998. In that time, the number of ski and snowboard events in world championship and Olympic competition has blossomed with the addition of cross-country sprints and several freestyle and snowboard events geared toward a younger audience.

He also made a series of controversial comments ranging from medical concerns for female ski jumpers to dismissive words on climate change. He apologized for his comments on climate change, and the FIS did eventually elevate women’s ski jumping to the World Cup and Olympic level.

Kasper competed in many sports, not just Alpine and Nordic skiing but also equestrian sports and sliding sports. He also has held leadership roles with the IOC, Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations, and the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The next FIS president will be only the third since 1951, when Marc Hodler began his tenure.

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Joey Mantia wins speedskating mass start in Poland

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Two-time world mass start champion Joey Mantia won his favored event Saturday at a speedskating World Cup event in Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Poland.

Mantia’s win was the first for a U.S. men’s skater this season. Brittany Bowe won the 1,000m and was third in the 1,500m at the season opener last week in Minsk, Belarus. Bowe was fourth in the 500m Saturday and has a 1,500m race scheduled for Sunday.

“After crashing last week and slowly building back into it this week, I really didn’t know what to expect,” Mantia said in a release from US Speedskating. “I kept a positive outlook and took the race lap by lap. With six to go, I was feeling really confident, the legs were good, and I had the liberty to make the moves I needed to make to get me across the line first. This is my first world cup win in a while, so it feels great. Still have a bit of work to do before worlds though, I think.”

The World Cup season is streaming on the NBC Sports Gold Speed Skating Pass. Sunday’s races start at 5:30 a.m. ET and will end with finals in the men’s 500m, women’s 1,500m, men’s team pursuit and women’s mass start.

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Summer Britcher takes second in luge World Cup opener

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The wide-open World Cup women’s luge season started Saturday with the unusual sight of no German sliders in the top two and a massive shakeup in the standings between the two runs.

Russia’s Tatyana Ivanova came back from 13th place in the first run to win by 0.110 seconds ahead of U.S. slider Summer Britcher, who has been third in the last two World Cup seasons.

Ivanova shaved nearly a half-second off her first-run time, improving from 40.875 to 40.429. Britcher was more consistent — fourth in the first run (40.693) and eighth in the second (40.721).

First-run leader Lisa Schulte of Austria tumbled from first down to sixth. U.S. rookie Ashley Farquharson, fourth in last year’s world junior championships, was third in her first World Cup run but finished 25th in her second to take 15th overall.

Brittney Arndt, who made her World Cup debut last year, was 13th. World bronze medalist Emily Sweeney, who won the Nations Cup race Friday, had a rough first run to stand 27th before rallying to 24th overall.

German sliders have won the last 21 World Cup women’s titles. But the team is competing this year without Natalie Geisenberger, who has won the last two Olympic women’s gold medals and the last seven World Cups. Geisenberger is pregnant, as is teammate Dajana Eitberger. Five-time World Cup champion Tatjana Huefner has retired.

READ: Geisenberger and teammates out this season

On Saturday, two German sliders tied for third — World Cup runner-up Julia Taubitz and Jessica Tiebel.

The doubles race had a Polish pair, Wojciech Chmielewski and Jakub Kowalewski, in first place after the first run, but they struggled in the second and left a familiar set of German pairs atop the standings Toni Eggert and
Sascha Benecken first, just 0.009 seconds ahead of longtime rivals Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt. The American sled of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman finished 17th.

Mazdzer, the Olympic silver medalist, will also compete in the men’s race on Sunday.

OlympicChannel.com will have live streaming of the men’s runs at 4 a.m. and 5:35 a.m. ET, then the team relay at 7:40 a.m. Highlights will be on NBCSN at 4:30 p.m. and the Olympic Channel at 5:30 p.m.

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