SKIING

With all events on the opening three days of the skiing world championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, postponed, athletes have had their patience – not their racing skills – put to the test.

Four gold medals should have been handed out by Wednesday, but so far there have been no races. The weather in the Italian Dolomites has been playing havoc with the race program, with heavy snow forcing the rescheduling of the combined events for both women and men, and the men’s super-G.

Too much snow hasn’t been the only issue. When course workers had cleared the Olympia delle Trofane for the women’s super-G on Tuesday, a fog bank moved over the course and forced the postponement of that race as well — but not after the racers were made to wait for 1 1/2 hours.

American Mikaela Shiffrin is defending the super-G title she won two years ago and was supposed to go 10th, leaving her still some time for final preparations once the race started. But postponing racing is what puts her off.

“Everybody: It’s always nice weather in Cortina, of course the schedule will play out without any issues! Cortina: (crosses arms defiantly) …hold my beer,” Shiffrin wrote on Instagram hours after Tuesday’s postponement.

Shiffrin said earlier this season “the waiting has always been tough. I think it’s that way for every athlete. That’s the hardest thing about races.”

Waiting is also what Shiffrin dislikes about her strongest disciplines – slalom and GS, which are contested over two runs, separated by three hours.

“You wait, and wait, and wait, and wait, and wait, and then you race,” Shiffrin said. “And it’s like 60 seconds where you actually have to be on point and the rest of day is just waiting, and I hate waiting.”

LIGETY FUTURE: American skier Ted Ligety says he “would like to stay involved in the direction of the sport” following his retirement after next week’s giant slalom at the world championships.

The two-time Olympic champions says he is supporting Johann Eliasch, the Swedish chief executive of Ligety’s equipment supplier Head, who is running for president of the International Ski Federation this spring.

Ligety says he has talked to Eliasch “about a bunch of different ideas.” Ligety says he knows Eliasch “is taking a lot of input from a lot of different people on how he can evolve and make the sport better.”

Ligety’s proposed changes include limiting the time between the two runs of technical races from three hours to 30 minutes and turning regular race weekends during the season into “World Cup Finals-esque events” with qualifying races the week before.

GOGGIA SIDELINED: Injured downhill skier Sofia Goggia says “it’s tough to accept” that she can’t race at her home world championships.

The Italian would have been an overwhelming favorite for gold in Saturday’s downhill. But she broke a bone in her right knee on the final weekend of World Cup competition before the worlds. Making matters worse was that the injury didn’t occur while racing but while skiing down to the valley after a super-G was called off.

She says “every morning when I wake up I have a hard time not thinking about it.”

Goggia did not require surgery after the compound fracture of her lateral tibial plateau. But she says there’s not enough time to recuperate even for the final World Cup downhill of the season next month.

She says “it would take a miracle by my next X-Ray. So no.”

AUTO RACING

NASCAR: Martin Truex Jr. has signed a multi-year agreement to stay at Joe Gibbs Racing, where the 2017 NASCAR champion has won eight races in his two years with the team. Truex joined Denny Hamlin as JGR drivers who signed contract extensions this month. Truex, Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Christopher Bell are all signed at Gibbs at least through 2022.

“This is where I wanted to be and to continue building on the success we have had together the past two years,” Truex said Wednesday.

Truex – whose late-career metamorphosis from journeyman to champion was unprecedented in NASCAR history – signed with Gibbs after Furniture Row Racing folded after the 2018 season. Truex won the 2017 Cup title with FRR and was series runner-up in 2018 and 2019. He had only one win driving the No. 19 Toyota and finished seventh in the points standings last season.

“Extending Martin’s agreement has been a big priority for us this off season,” Gibbs said. “Obviously he’s talented and shown he can win at any racetrack but his insights also helps to make all our teams better.”

Truex had three career Cup Series wins in his first 10 full seasons until his career exploded in 2016 at FRR. He’s won 24 races over the last five years and blossomed into a perennial championship contender.

BASKETBALL

WNBA: In a flurry of WNBA trades, the New York Liberty acquired All-Star Natasha Howard while the No. 1 pick in this year’s upcoming draft ended up in Dallas.

The Liberty acquired Howard as part of a three-team deal with the Seattle Storm and Phoenix Mercury. The three-time WNBA champion provides a solid interior player for New York to pair with last season’s No. 1 draft pick, Sabrina Ionescu. As a designated core player for Seattle, Howard had to approve the trade to New York.

New York sent the No. 1 pick in the draft this year and the Mercury’s first-round pick next year to the Storm. The Liberty acquired that pick from Phoenix by sending Kia Nurse and Megan Walker to the Mercury for the sixth pick this year and their first-round choice next year.

The No. 1 pick didn’t stay in Seattle long as the Storm traded it to Dallas for Katie Lou Samuelson and the Wings’ second-round pick in 2022. The Wings become the first team in WNBA history to hold the first and second overall picks in the same draft. In addition, Dallas also holds the fifth, seventh and 13th selections in 2021.

SOCCER

MLS: Commissioner Don Garber said the Major League Soccer season will begin April 17, two weeks later than originally announced because of extended labor negotiations.

Garber held a wide-ranging news conference after the league and its players agreed over the weekend to an amended collective bargaining agreement meant to help offset losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Now that the CBA has been ratified, the league will set a new date for teams to open preseason training camps in the near future. The season schedule will also be announced soon, Garber said.

It’s still unclear whether spectators will be allowed in the league’s stadiums because of different local restrictions.

“I don’t have any sense that fans are going to be in our stadiums in large numbers for most if not all of our season,” he said.

Garber estimated the losses to the league last season were $1 billion, partly because of the drop in ticket revenue as teams played in empty stadiums and because of added expenses like charter flights for teams. He expects this season’s losses to be in the same range.


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