Sports

Winter sports roundup

Lindsey Vonn’s return depends on weather

Mandatory Credit: Photo by CHRISTIAN BRUNA/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock (9318308o) Lindsey Vonn of the USA talks to journalists after the downhill training session at the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria, 12 January 2018. Alpine Skiing World Cup in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria - 12 Jan 2018
CHRISTIAN BRUNA/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock
Lindsey Vonn talks to journalists after her downhill training session in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria.

The first women’s World Cup speed races in 2018 were doubtful as the snow on parts of the course in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria, was still too weak after heavy rain this week and mild temperatures.

The lower section of the Karnten-Franz Klammer course was not hard enough to stage the mandatory training for a downhill.

‘‘It’s a difficult situation right now with the way the snow is and how they prepared the course,’’ Lindsey Vonn told The Associated Press.

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The American standout added ‘‘the top is good but the bottom is not safe to race.’’

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With only 40 days left until her season highlight, the Olympic downhill in Pyeongchang, avoiding injuries is all that matters to Vonn, who hasn’t raced since Dec. 16 when she earned her 78th career win at a super-G in Val d'Isere, France.

The following day, she took part in the early morning inspection for another super-G at the resort but then decided against racing, citing a sore knee, and flew home.

“I feel solid but my focus this season is on the Olympics. So I am not going to risk anything this weekend,’’ Vonn said after taking part in a shortened training session.

Organizers swapped the program for this weekend by pushing back the downhill to Sunday and rescheduling a super-G for Saturday. The last time Bad Kleinkirchheim hosted the World Cup, in 2015, both races were cancelled because of heavy winds.

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American Mikaela Shiffrin, who leads the season’s downhill standings after two events, is sitting out this weekend’s races to rest

Alpine combined

Showing yet again that good slalom beats good downhill in Alpine combined, Victor Muffat-Jeandet rose from 27th place to win his first World Cup race.

Muffat-Jeandet won by using the fastest run in slalom to finish 0.96 seconds ahead of Pavel Trikhichev in Wengen, Switzerland. Trikhichev, who also got a career-best result, had been 29th after the morning downhill, earning use of the best snow surface in slalom when the top 30 start in reverse order.

Figure skating

Ashley Wagner and Ross Miner withdrew from next week’s Four Continents Championships in Taipei, Taiwan, after they failed to make the US Olympic team.

Wagner, who helped the United States win team bronze at the Sochi Olympics four years ago, ripped the judges after finishing fourth at the US Figure Skating championships last week. She was passed over for the team headed to Pyeongchang in favor of US champion Bradie Tennell, Mirai Nagasu, and Karen Chen.

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Miner was the silver medalist at nationals but was left off the Olympic team through a complex set of selection criteria. Nathan Chen, Vincent Zhou, and Adam Rippon will compete in South Korea.

Angela Wang will replace Wagner and Grant Hochstein will replace Miner at Four Continents.

Halfpipe

American David Wise will get the chance to defend his Olympic gold medal after wrapping up his spot in the Pyeongchang Games with a victory in a ski halfpipe qualifier in Snowmass, Colo. Women’s Olympic gold medalist Maddie Bowman finished fourth but also secured her Olympic spot.

Biathlon

Two-time biathlon world champion Gabriela Koukalova has been ruled out of next month’s Olympics. The Czech Biathlon Union says Koukalova won’t recover in time from a calf problem that has kept her out of World Cup events so far this season. Koukalova is the reigning world championship and World Cup title holder in the sprint, and also has two Olympic silver medals.

Ski jumping

Maren Lundby of Norway continued her preparations for the Pyeongchang Olympics by winning a World Cup ski jumping event in Sapporo, Japan.

Lundby had jumps of 95.5 and 93.5 meters on the normal hill for a total of 252.9 points to record her third World Cup title of the season.

Germany’s Katharina Althaus produced jumps of 93.5 and 96.0 meters to finish second with 248.6 points, followed by Japan’s Sara Takanashi, who received 238.2 points after two jumps of 93.0 meters.

Defending Olympic champion Carina Vogt of Germany was seventh with 214.8 points.

With Saturday’s win in Sapporo, Lundby extended her lead in the overall World Cup standings to 460 points, 20 ahead of Althaus. Takanashi is third with 280 points.

The World Cup season continues Sunday at the same venue.