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‘Samurai’ beats Tiger’s ex-GF

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AFP) – Lindsey Vonn’s bid for a second Olympic downhill gold medal came unstuck Wednesday as the US ski star finished third in the women’s blue riband event won by “crazy” close friend Sofia Goggia of Italy.

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Goggia described herself as a “samurai” after timing 1min 39.22sec for a first ever downhill title for the Italian women’s team.

The 25-year-old came in 0.09sec ahead of Norway’s giant slalom silver medalist Ragnhild Mowinckel, with Vonn a further 0.42sec adrift.

Goggia made a mistake on the upper part of the polished 2.8km-long Jeongseon course, but produced a magnificent gliding mid-section and strong bottom third.

It reaffirmed the fine form she has shown on the World Cup circuit this season, with two victories and two second places in the downhill, and also second and third placings in the super-G.

“I was really focused, I moved like a samurai,” said Goggia, her head coach Massimo Rinaldi labelling her as “crazyhorse”.

Vonn, former girlfriend of golf star Tiger Woods, made few errors in her descent, but it was just not enough, Mowinckel providing a surprise factor with her second place after starting 19.

After the race Vonn, 33, confirmed that it would be her last Olympic downhill and said: ”I gave it all today, skied a great race. Sofia just skied better than I did.

Mowinckel followed up on her giant slalom podium with another strong showing for Norway, which now tops the alpine medal table with six.

Vonn’s bronze at least made up for disappointment of her sixth place in the super-G when an error at the bottom cost a podium place in a sensational race won by Czech snowboarder Ester Ledecka.

All eyes were again on Vonn, winner of 81 World Cup races, as she started the second race in her Pyeongchang Games campaign in brilliant sunshine.

Meantime, the United States were dumped out of the men’s Olympic ice hockey tournament Wednesday, losing 3-2 to the undefeated Czechs in the quarterfinals.

Petr Koukal’s penalties shootout goal, the only one surrendered in the best-of-five decider, lifted the Czechs into the semi-finals.

In search of their first gold medal in 20 years they go into a Friday matchup against the winner of a later quarter-final between the Olympic Athletes from Russia and Norway.

Russian teenager Alina Zagitova produced a spellbinding, world-record short program on Wednesday to overshadow Olympic rival and compatriot Evgenia Medvedeva.

The 15-year-old starlet from the Western Urals seduced the judges with her flawless routine to Black Swan, earning 82.92 points to lead the competition.

Zagitova shaded double world champion Medvedeva, 18, who just minutes earlier had broken the record she had set last week in the team event with a score of 81.61.

Zagitova’s flawless two-and-a-half minutes on the ice at the Gangneung Arena, featuring a triple lutz, triple toeloop combination, gave her a narrow advantage of 1.31 points going into Friday’s free dance final.