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Johnny Weir, more Olympians among Google’s trending athletes of 2018

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Lindsey Vonn and Shaun White were the third- and fourth-most Google-trending athletes in the world in 2018.

The full list:
1. Tristan Thompson, Basketball
2. Alexis Sánchez, Soccer
3. Lindsey Vonn, Alpine Skiing
4. Shaun White, Snowboarding
5. Khabib Nurmagomedov, MMA
6. Kawhi Leonard, Basketball
7. Naomi Osaka, Tennis
8. Philippe Coutinho, Soccer
9. Conor McGregor, MMA
10. Harry Kane, Soccer

The list is based on search terms that had the highest spike in 2018 compared to 2017. Which would explain why Winter Olympians would outrank the likes of LeBron James and Tom Brady.

In the U.S., “Olympic medal count” ranked ninth in trending news, just behind the royal wedding. White and Vonn were Nos. 2 and 3 on the U.S. athletes top 10, with Chloe Kim in eighth and NBC Sports figure skating analyst Johnny Weir in 10th as the only retired athlete on the list.

Google also published a Year in Search video that included Mirai Nagasu and Kim.

In 2016, the Rio Olympics was the top trending sporting event, while Michael Phelps was the No. 3 trending person behind Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, with Simone Biles in fifth and Ryan Lochte ninth.

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Lindsey Vonn’s favorite course named after her

Lindsey Vonn
Lake Louise
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When Lindsey Vonn races at her favorite World Cup venue for the last time next fall, she will take runs down Lake Lindsey Way.

The Lake Louise Ski Resort in Alberta announced Saturday the renaming of its downhill run after the most successful female Alpiner. Nowhere has Vonn tasted more victory than Lake Louise, with 18 of her 82 World Cup wins in 44 career starts. So much success that, years ago, it was dubbed Lake Lindsey.

Vonn would have tried to add to her total this past weekend — and inch closer to Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 wins — but she’s likely out of competition until January after injuring her knee in a Nov. 19 training crash.

So she video conferenced into Saturday night’s ceremony.

“I’m so honored, and I’ve had so many great memories in Lake Louise,” said Vonn, who is delaying her retirement from March until next season to race Lake Louise one more time. “I can’t wait to come back and ski on my run.”

Louise Locke, part of the family in charge of the Lake Louise Ski Club, said Vonn earned the honor “for being such a wonderful ambassador for the sport of ski racing and for skiing in general, and especially for Lake Louise.”

“But even more than that, we want to thank you for being the person you are,” she said. “You always have all the time in the world for your fans, and especially for the kids. And that’s what we love about you the very most, so we want to do something a little bit special.”

Few Alpine skiers get World Cup-level runs named after them, NBC Sports’ Steve Porino said, noting one other instance, the Oreiller Killy track in Val d’Isere, France, honoring a pair of French Olympic champions.

It’s unknown when Vonn will make her season debut. She said in a video published Friday that she would probably be able to race in a few weeks. In Saturday’s video conference, Vonn said she hoped to race the Oreiller Killy venue in Val d’Isere the weekend of Dec. 15-16, pending a doctor visit Monday to determine if she’s cleared to ski.

But early Monday, French media reported those races were canceled due to weather. The International Ski Federation has not announced whether speed races will be held at another venue that weekend.

If Vonn does not race then, she would likely be out until at least the next scheduled speed races Jan. 12-13.

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Lindsey Vonn delays retirement after training crash

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Lindsey Vonn is pushing back her retirement by eight months after a training crash and knee injury kept her from competing at her favorite venue this week.

Vonn, who said last month that she would retire after this season ends in March, now plans to race at one World Cup stop next season at Lake Louise, Alberta, traditionally held the first weekend of December.

“I’m thinking at this point that I need to come back,” Vonn said in a video published Friday. “I know I’ve said many times that I’m not going to come back because my body can’t handle it anymore, but I was also planning on racing Lake Louise.”

Vonn said she sprained a ligament, bruised a bone and hyperextended a knee in a Nov. 19 training crash. She announced last week that the injury will prevent her from her planned season debut in Lake Louise this weekend.

In Friday’s video, Vonn said she would probably be able to compete in a few weeks. That means she will likely miss the first six of 17 scheduled speed races this season, also sitting out downhills and super-Gs in Switzerland and France the next two weekends. The first speed races of 2019 are Jan. 12-13 in Austria.

The absence hurts her chance of breaking the World Cup career wins record of 86 held by retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark. Vonn is four wins shy. When healthy, Vonn has averaged about seven wins per season in recent years.

Vonn has experienced the most success at Lake Louise, winning 18 times in 44 World Cup starts. It’s such a strong record that many have dubbed the venue Lake Lindsey.

“Whether I break the World Cup win record or not … if I don’t break it at the end of this year, it doesn’t matter,” Vonn said. “That really has nothing to do with me wanting to race in Lake Louise again. For me, Lake Louise has always been my spot.

“The whole point of having one last season is to have one last season, to race in every single race one last time, to make those final memories, and because I’m injured now, I can’t have that. I feel like I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t take that one last chance to push out of the starting gate in Lake Louise.”

Vonn said she cried in the hospital room after learning she would not race in Lake Louise this week.

“Hopefully I break the record this season, and I don’t even have to think about next year in Lake Louise,” she said. “I don’t want this record to determine the level of success that I’ve had in my career. … I think people forget that I have 20 more wins than any other female. … The record will not define me.”

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