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Winter sports: Pikus-Pace wins final World Cup skeleton race of career

Published January 24, 2014 6:06 pm

Winter sports • Jacobellis, Holland earn gold at X Games.
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Noelle Pikus-Pace won the final World Cup skeleton race of the season in Germany on Friday, giving her four wins in eight races and cementing her as a gold-medal favorite for the upcoming Sochi Olympics in Russia.

"What a way to go into Sochi," she said. "Finishing the final World Cup with a win is definitely a confidence booster heading into the Olympics."

The Orem native and Eagle Mountain resident figures to battle for gold in Sochi with Great Britain's Elizabeth Yarnold, who finished ninth Friday after winning the four races this season that Pikus-Pace did not.

Yarnold won the overall World Cup title, with Pikus-Pace second.

Each slider missed the podium only once all season, and Pikus-Pace would have won the title had she not been controversially disqualified after winning the season-opener in Calgary, because of an improper piece of tape on the handle of her sled.

The race in Konigssee was shortened to one run because of steady snow, and Pikus-Pace was declared the winner after racing through one run in 52.92 seconds. Austria's Janine Flock was second in 53.36, followed by Great Britain's Shelley Rudman, the 2010 Olympic silver medalist, in 53.42.

Rudman finished third in the overall rankings, just ahead of Flock.

Michael C. Lewis

X Games

Lindsey Jacobellis won the Winter X Games snowboardcross in Aspen, Colo., for her second victory of the season. On the men's side, American Nate Holland won his seventh Winter X gold.

Men's slalom

Felix Neureuther of Germany won the slalom of the classic Hahnenkamm event in Kitzbuehel, Austria, in heavy snow in a repeat of his first World Cup victory four years ago.

Neureuther triumphed after first-run leader Marcel Hirscher failed to finish. The defending overall champion from Austria led Neureuther by 0.38 seconds after the first run but straddled a gate in the second. Park City's Ted Ligety placed 15th, 2.16 seconds off the pace.

Women's downhill

Overall World Cup leader Maria Hoefl-Riesch won a shortened downhill in Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy, and established herself as the favorite to take away two of Lindsey Vonn's titles.

Hoefl-Riesch took full command of the downhill standings that the injured Vonn dominated for the past six years and improved her status as the favorite for the women's downhill at the Sochi Olympics on Feb. 12 — the race Vonn won at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Hoefl-Riesch won in 1 minute, 17.84 seconds on the Olympia delle Tofane course.

Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein finished second, 0.31 seconds behind, and Nicole Schmidhofer of Austria was third, 0.75 behind. Stacey Cook of the United States was fifth and missed out on the podium by 0.03 seconds.

Figure skating

Takahito Mura of Japan won the Four Continents gold medal despite placing second to figure skating compatriot Takahiko Kozuka in the free skate in Taipei, Taiwan.

Mura's performance included a triple axel plus double toe loop jump sequence, and quadruple toe loop jump. They earned him 158.35 points for the segment and 242.56 overall, more than six points better than second-place Kozuka.

Richard Dornbush of the United States was second from the short program but an error-marred free skate, including a fall on the quadruple salchow, dropped him to seventh for the segment and out of medal contention.




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