U.S. women’s ice hockey parts ways with coach
Longtime NHL defenseman Ken Klee is out as the coach of the U.S. women’s hockey team after leading the Americans to gold medals at the last two world championships. Who’s in? The players are waiting to hear, less than a month before the world championships and less than a year before the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.
Klee is “not our coach right now,” star forward Hilary Knight told the Associated Press on Saturday. “I just know that it was a privilege to work with him.”
Knight wouldn’t say what reasons USA Hockey gave for the change. Reagan Carey, the team’s general manager, also declined to say why Klee was let go but said the decision was part of “determining what’s needed and making sure we are advancing as a team.”
Carey said she made a decision after the Sochi Olympics, when the Americans lost in overtime to Canada in the gold-medal game, to name a head coach event by event. Klee, who played nine seasons for the Washington Capitals at the start of his 14-year career, won two straight world championships under this system and twice won the Four Nations Cup, most recently in November.
DOWNHILL SKIING: Lindsey Vonn went first out of the gate in the World Cup downhill race, and it nearly paid off.
Vonn was beaten by just 0.07 seconds by Italy’s Sofia Goggia in a test event ahead of the 2018 Olympics in Jeongseon, South Korea.
The American, who had finished first in both practice runs at the venue that will be used for the PyeongChang Games, had previously only chosen to go first on one occasion in her career.
“I chose number one as I thought the snow would get a little soft later on,” Vonn said. “But I think it got a little faster between numbers five and 20.”
Competing in just her fourth event since fracturing her arm in November, Vonn clocked what looked like a winning time of 1:38:87 on the Jeongseon course.
“I am really happy with my run today,” Vonn said. “I definitely made some mistakes, but my skiing was good.”
ALPINE SKIING: Marcel Hirscher amazed the world of Alpine skiing by locking up an unprecedented sixth straight overall World Cup title in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.
Two days after his 28th birthday, the Austrian won a giant slalom to give him an insurmountable lead of more than 500 points over his main rivals: Kjetil Jansrud and Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway and Alexis Pinturault of France.
“It’s a brilliant feeling, incredible. The undoable has become doable,” Hirscher said.
He is the first male skier to win six overall titles.
On the women’s side, only fellow Austrian Annemarie MoserProell has won six championships, but her titles in the 1970s were interrupted.
“It’s just incredible what he does. He is the greatest skier of his generation,” Moser-Proell said.
Other ski racing greats paid tribute as well.
CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING: Marit Bjoergen won the 30-kilometer classical race as Norway completed a sweep of women’s cross-country ski titles at the Nordic world championships in Lahti, Finland.
The Norwegians made an emphatic statement ahead of the PyeongChang Olympics, taking the top four places with strong team tactics on the final sprint of the 30K.
Bjoergen took her record 18th career gold medal — and fourth of the championships — by 1.9 seconds from Heidi Weng, who needed a photo finish to beat Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen into third place.
“It has exceeded all expectations. I’m glad it’s over now. It has been so thrilling,” Bjoergen said.
Jessica Diggins of the United States was the top non-Norwegian in fifth, a place behind Ragnhild Haga. Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla had been in the hunt for a medal but broke a ski pole shortly before the finish.