Pinturault brings in another title

BANSKO, Bulgaria (AP) — Alexis Pinturault added the season-long World Cup title in Alpine combined Friday to the world championship title he won 11 days ago.

The Frenchman won the discipline’s season-ending race after his main rival, Marco Schwarz of Austria, picked up an injury in the super-G portion and was forced to skip the slalom.

“I am really happy but also a little bit disappointed because Marco got injured,” Pinturault said. “I wanted to have a great fight. This is bad news. It is a really happy end for me but I think also about Marco.”

Schwarz, who was leading the combined standings after winning the only previous race in Wengen last month, hurt his left knee after landing a jump shortly before the super-G finish. The Austrian ski team said Schwarz would travel back to Austria for medical checks later Friday.

The runner-up in the standings, Victor Muffat-Jeandet of France, didn’t finish his slalom run and also failed to score points.

Pinturault acknowledged he changed his tactics after Schwarz went out and other rivals failed to put pressure on him.

“After the super-G I knew there were no real contenders,” he said. “I had to control my skiing. The main point was to finish my (slalom) run.”

Pinturault, the 2018 Olympic silver medalist, has now won five season titles in Alpine combined, matching the World Cup record set by Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway 17 years ago.

The Frenchman is now also the only male skier to win at least one combined event in seven consecutive World Cup seasons.

Pinturault won Friday’s race by 0.68 seconds. Seven-time overall champion Marcel Hirscher, who made a rare appearance in a combined event, was second in the only discipline in which he has competed before but not won a race.

The result means that Hirscher lost only 20 points from his massive lead over second-place Pinturault in the overall standings. The Austrian is now 460 points clear.

Stefan Hadalin of Slovenia was 0.69 seconds behind in third, with the rest of the field more than a second behind.

Pinturault trailed Mauro Caviezel of Switzerland by 0.16 seconds and Vincent Kriechmayr of Austria by 0.06 after the super-G run, but they dropped to sixth and 11th, respectively, after the slalom.

Making his World Cup debut in a combined event, Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway finished 2.64 seconds off the pace.

A super-G on the same hill is scheduled for Saturday.

USOC realigns in attempt to help athletes off the field

DENVER (AP) — The U.S. Olympic Committee has tabbed Paralympic executive Rick Adams to serve as its new chief of sport performance, and will also create a new department charged with making it easier for athletes to deal with off-the-field needs, including health care and reporting inappropriate conduct.

CEO Sarah Hirshland announced those changes to the USOC staff Wednesday as part of a reorganization designed to make the approximately 400-person operation more responsive to athletes.

To change that dynamic, Hirshland will begin the search for a leader of a new Athlete Services Department, which will be designed as a one-stop clearinghouse for athletes to deal with off-field issues. For years, many have complained about finding themselves lost in the Olympic bureaucracy when it came to everything from seeking health care and opportunities for their futures to lodging complaints about sex abuse and unfair treatment by coaches and administrators.

On the sports-performance side, Adams will replace Alan Ashley, who was fired in December after the release of a report that concluded he didn’t elevate concerns about alleged abuse by gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar when he first heard of it in July 2015. A concern that came up repeatedly in the report: The USOC was more worried about medals than the welfare of the Olympians who won them.

Adams, who has appeared before Congress in one of its several hearings about sex abuse, will continue to run the Paralympic sports operation and will take over most of Ashley’s old duties, including maintaining relationships with national governing bodies — the individual sports whose athletes come under the USOC umbrella every two years for the Olympics.

Also on Wednesday, chief external affairs officer Patrick Sandusky announced he was leaving to take a senior vice president job at Madison Square Garden Company, where he’ll be in charge of communications for the Knicks and Rangers.

Sandusky joins Ashley, CEO Scott Blackmun, chief marketing officer Lisa Baird, chief development officer John Denny and chairman Larry Probst in leaving the USOC over the past year.

Hirshland, chosen last July to lead the USOC out of turmoil related to the sex-abuse cases, will have eight people directly reporting to her, including one in a newly created position of chief of staff. That person will manage the CEO’s office and oversee international relations and the USOC’s dealings with the LA 2028 organizing committee.

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Copyright 2019 The Associated Press.

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