Ted Ligety opened the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup season Sunday by becoming the first skier to win three consecutive world cup giant slalom races in Soelden, Austria.
Ligety, a two-time Olympian, has starred in the giant slalom, winning world cup season titles in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2013. The victory in Soelden was his 18th.
“I think the best preparation for the Olympics is the world cup season because that gives you the confidence, it keeps you sharp and just that whole competitive atmosphere keeps you going and gives you the ability to bring your best skiing to the Olympics,” said Ligety, who will receive the United States Olympic Committee’s Olympic SportsMan of the Year Award Tuesday in New York City.
Two-time world cup overall champion and five time Olympic medalist Bode Miller finished 19th in his first world cup race since February 2012. Teenager Mikaela Shiffrin finished sixth in the women’s giant slalom opener Saturday. It was the best giant slalom finish ever for Shiffrin, the defending slalom world champion.
Lindsey Vonn had considered competing in Soelden this past weekend but opted to delay her racing comeback from knee surgery until Nov. 29 at the world cup event in Beaver Creek, Colo.
Gracie Gold and the ice dancing team of Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue earned bronze medals Saturday at Skate Canada in Saint John, New Brunswick. The event was the second of six Grand Prix events leading up to the ISU Grand Prix Final Dec. 5-8 in Japan.
Gold, the 2013 U.S. silver medalist, had the women’s lead after the short program before dropping to third after the free skate. Fellow American Christina Gao finished fourth and Courtney Hicks was sixth.
Hubbell and Donohue posted personal-best scores in both the short dance and free dance en route to their first Grand Prix medal.
In the men’s competition, Joshua Farris finished fifth, Jeremy Abbott was sixth and Ross Miner was ninth.
The team of Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier, the 2013 world junior pairs champions, finished fifth in their senior-level Grand Prix debut. Lindsay Davis and Rockne Brubaker placed sixth.
Elsewhere, Kiri Baga and the pairs team of Jessica Noelle Calalang and Zack Sidhu earned silver medals at the Cup of Nice in France. Rachael Flatt, a 2010 Olympian on the comeback trail, finished ninth among women.
Brittany Bowe swept the 500-, 1,000- and 1,500-meter races while Shani Davis won the 1,000 and 1,500 meters at the U.S. Single Distance Championships in Kearns, Utah.
The Fall World Cup Team was named after three days of racing. Bowe qualified in all three events she entered, and Davis qualified in both events he won. Joey Mantia was the only skater to qualify in every distance: 500, 1,000, 1,500, 5,000 and 10,000.
The other U.S. team members are Mitch Whitmore (500, 1,000), Tucker Fredricks (500), Brian Hansen (500, 1,000, 1,500), Jonathan Garcia (500), Heather Richardson (500, 1,000, 1500), Lauren Cholewinski (500), Sugar Todd (500, 1,000), Elli Ochowicz (500), Trevor Marsicano (1,000, 1,500), Jilleanne Rookard (1,000, 1,500, 3,000, 5,000), Rebekah Bradford-Plath (1,000), Jonathan Kuck (1,500, 5,000, 10,000), Kelly Gunther (1,500) Petra Acker (3,000, 5,000), Anna Ringsred (3,000, 5,000), Maria Lamb (3,000, 5,000), Emery Lehman (5,000, 10,000), and Patrick Meek (5,000, 10,000).
The world cup season begins in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Nov. 8-10.
“It’s been a very exciting weekend, to say the least,” Bowe said. “I really just went into the weekend to prep myself for Calgary in about two weeks. I skated some really fast times, some personal bests and it was a great start to the season.”
Defending Olympic champion pilot Steve Holcomb leads the U.S. men’s bobsled team that was named Sunday at the U.S. team trials in Park City, Utah. Three pilots and 11 push athletes were named to the men’s team, which will race in eight world cup events beginning Nov. 24 in Calgary.
“This is the most impressive team we’ve ever had going into an Olympic year,” said Brian Shimer, men’s bobsled coach and Olympic bronze medalist in the four-man event in 2002.
Holcomb landed an automatic spot on the team based on his world championships bronze medal last season. He will pilot USA-1. Nick Cunningham finished second to Holcomb in all four selection races and will pilot USA-2. Cory Butner will pilot USA-3.
The push athletes are Chuck Berkeley, Adam Clark, Andreas Drbal, Chris Fogt, Chris Langton, Steve Langton, Abe Morlu, Justin Olsen, Johnny Quinn, Dallas Robinson and Curt Tomasevicz.
Tomasevicz, Langton and Fogt joined Holcomb to form the fastest four-man bobsled team in the selection races.
The women’s team was named Saturday. Elana Meyers received a bye onto the team for her world championships silver medal and will pilot USA-1. Jamie Greubel will pilot USA-2 with Jazmine Fenlator driving USA-3.
The push athletes are Emily Azevedo, Katie Eberling, Aja Evans, Lolo Jones, Kristi Koplin and Lauryn Williams. Jones and Williams are Olympic track & field athletes who are seeking to represent Team USA in their first Winter Games.
Greubel teamed with Azevedo won the final women’s bobsled selection race Friday night.
Margaux Isaksen dominated a global all-star field of the top 16 athletes in the sport of pentathlon to secure the title of “Champion of Champions” in Doha, Qatar, Saturday. The top 16 athletes in the world who have each won a major championship this year, hence the moniker “Champion of Champions,” gathered in Qatar to compete in this event.
Finishing third in the fencing event after struggling in only one or two matches, she cruised to a 2:19 swim and entered the riding event in fifth place. Astride a great Hanovarian warm-blood, Isaksen entered the Al Shakab arena like a true champion and proceeded to ride a perfect course, executing even the most difficult maneuvers with ease, starting the combined shooting and running event in fourth position only two seconds from the leader, Yane Marques of Brazil, the London Olympic bronze medalist.
“I came to Qatar very relaxed,” Isaksen said. “There was no pressure on me and that played a big part in my performance. The fantastic facilities, the amazing horses and the morning out ‘dune bashing’ made it so enjoyable.”
New partner, same results for Kerri Walsh Jennings.
Walsh Jennings, the three time defending Olympic champion, and new partner, April Ross, a silver medalist at the London 2012 Olympic Games, won the FIVB World Tour Grand Slam event in Xiamen, China, beating Brazil’s Taiana Lima and Talita Da Rocha Antunes 21-14, 17-21, 15-12 in the championship match on Sunday.
The victory gave Walsh Jennings the record for all-time tournament victories by a beach player with 113. By beating the world’s top-ranked women’s beach team, Walsh Jennings and Ross won their second straight Grand Slam event.
The tournament title gave Walsh Jennings one more than former partner Misty May-Treanor. Walsh Jennings has won 21 Grand Slam titles and 46 FIVB events.
“My new partner is wonderful, in so many ways,” Walsh Jennings said. “She is such an amazing volleyball player. She makes life on the court very, very easy. Her energy is great, her target is great and her skills are unbelievable. So it’s going to be a very fun partnership.”
Walsh Jennings said her sights are on the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games and a potential fourth Olympic gold medal.
“We are going to have a great offseason, and then go to work and come back next year even stronger and keep chasing our dreams,” she said.
Katie Hursey and Ben Kanute won titles Sunday at the Fearless Pro Super Sprint Triathlon, the finale of the USA Triathlon Super Sprint Series, in San Diego.
Hursey finished in 49:39 on two circuits of the 300-meter swim, 8-kilometer bike and 2.5-kilometer run course. Sara McLarty and Jennifer Spieldenner finished second and third.
Kanute won in 45:39.3, six-tenths of a second ahead of Tommy Zaferes. Eric Lagerstrom was third.
Elsewhere, Gregory Billington was fourth and Jarrod Shoemaker fifth at the ITU World Cup event Sunday in Guatape, Colombia. Lindsey Jerdonek was sixth in the women’s race.
Patrick Parish and Kathy Rakel won the elite titles Saturday at the USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships in Oro Valley, Ariz. Parish finished in 1:25.44 on the 5-kilometer run, 35-kilometer bike, 5-kilometer run course. Rakel won in 1:41.02.
Eric Burnett and Jennifer Scudiero were the overall winners among the age group competitors. Dan Grimm and Courtney Robles-Wiseman won the overall titles at the sprint distance.
Race Imboden earned a silver medal while Miles Chamley-Watson finished fourth in men’s foil Saturday at the World Combat Games in St. Petersburg, Russia. Imboden defeated 2012 Olympic silver medalist Alaaeldin Abouelkassem of Egypt, 15-6, in the quarterfinals before beating Chamley-Watson in an all-American semifinal. Two-time Olympic champion Mariel Zagunis finished fifth in women’s saber Friday. Ibtihaj Muhammad was 11th.
Katie Compton won the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup race Saturday in Tabor, Czech Republic. It was the second straight medal-winning performance for Compton, who earned a silver medal in the season opener last week. The two results combined to place her at the top of the elite women’s standings. The United States placed four in the top 15. Meredith Miller was sixth, Kaitlin Antonneau ninth and Arley Kemmerer 15th. Logan Owen was 21st in the Under-23 men’s race.
Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd and Christen Press scored first-half goals Sunday to lead the U.S. women to a 4-1 friendly win over New Zealand in San Francisco. Heather O’Reilly added a goal in the second half. The teams meet again Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio. The United States is unbeaten in its last 37 games.
Phillip Dutton, riding Mr. Medicott, finished fourth at the Les Etoiles de Pau CCI4*, which concluded Sunday in Pau, France.
Glenn Eller finished second in men’s double trap Friday at the ISSF World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.