Winter Olympics 2018: Vonn makes history, Yarnold back on form

Lindsey Vonn
Lindsey Vonn's victory in Italy saw her become the oldest women to win a World Cup downhill race

With the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, just weeks away, BBC Sport brings you a weekly round-up of the big stories.

Vintage Vonn takes downhill glory

ALPINE SKIING: America's 2010 Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn believes her Pyeongchang preparation is in perfect shape after claiming a 79th World Cup victory in the downhill contest in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.

Vonn, 33, became the oldest winner of a women's World Cup downhill and moves to within seven victories of Ingemar Stenmark's record of 86 World Cup wins.

"This is just the momentum that I was hoping for and that I was planning on going into the Olympics," Vonn said. "I know what I'm capable of. This weekend just proves it."

Vonn's victory came a day after she had been forced to settle for the silver medal behind Italy's Sofia Goggia on the same mountain. Elsewhere, Germany's Thomas Dressen was a surprise winner of the iconic men's downhill race in Kitzbuhel, Austria.

Henrik halts Hirscher heroics

ALPINE SKIING: Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen finally ended Marcel Hirscher's five-race winning streak by taking victory in the men's World Cup slalom contest at Kitzbuhel.

Kristoffersen has finished in second place on seven occasions in a frustrating season to date - five of those have been behind reigning slalom world champion Hirscher.

However, the Norwegian was in dominant form in Austria and finished nearly a second clear of home favourite Hirscher in second place. Britain's Dave Ryding produced the fastest second run to finish ninth.

SKELETON: Britain's Lizzy Yarnold said she was "super happy" after finishing fourth in her last race before beginning the defence of her Olympic skeleton title in Pyeongchang.

Germany's Jacqueline Lolling won the race in Konigssee, Germany, to wrap up her second consecutive World Cup title. Yarnold's best result since the opening event of the season saw her end ninth in the overall standings, with compatriot Laura Deas, who didn't make the cut in Konigssee, finishing seventh.

South Korea's Yun Sung-bin won the men's World Cup title despite skipping the final race to prepare for the Pyeongchang Games.

Latvia's Martins Dukurs had looked set to win the title for the ninth season in a row, but a delayed points deduction for a sled materials violation in last week's race in St Moritz meant his South Korean rival finished top of the standings.

Meanwhile, Yarnold, Deas, Dom Parsons and Jerry Rice have all been selected for the Great Britain team for next month's Winter Olympics.

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING: Another confirmed Pyeongchang presence is Pita Taufatofua, who caught the world's attention as Tonga's bare-chested, oiled flagbearer at the 2016 Olympics.

Tonga's Pita Taufatofua
Tongan Pita Taufatofua competed in taekwondo at the 2016 Olympics

He changed sports after suffering a first-round defeat in the taekwondo in Rio, taking up cross-country skiing.

The Tongan Ski Federation say he has the necessary qualification points to compete at next month's Games - which would make him the first skier from his country to qualify for the Winter Olympics.

389 potential neutral athletes approved by IOC

GENERAL: A list of 389 Russians who could potentially compete as neutrals in Pyeongchang has been finalised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Russia was banned from the Games following allegations of state-sponsored doping - and Russian athletes who wish to take part must prove they are clean.

The IOC says it is "not possible to project" how many would be approved but Russia's Olympic Committee can "start proposing" athletes wanting to compete.

The Russians hope to send approximately 200 athletes to Pyeongchang - slightly fewer than at the Sochi Games in 2014, but more than travelled to Vancouver in 2010.

GENERAL: North Korea will send 22 athletes to compete in five sports at next month's Games.

North and South Korea athletes will also compete on the same team at the Olympics for the first time after the International Olympic Committee has approved proposals to field a unified women's hockey team.

North Korea have won two Winter Olympic medals in 1964 and 1992. At the Pyeongchang opening ceremony, one North Korean athlete and one South Korean will carry the flag together during the Parade of Nations.

Medvedeva's unbeaten run ends

FIGURE SKATING: Evgenia Medvedeva suffered her first defeat since 2015 when she was beaten by 15-year-old training partner Alina Zagitova at the European Championships in Moscow.

Russia's reigning Olympic champion Evgenia Medvedeva
Russia's reigning Olympic champion Evgenia Medvedeva had to settle for second place on her return from injury

Medvedeva, 18, was making her comeback after two months out with a foot injury, and could not prevent her fellow Russian adding the European title to last month's Grand Prix Final win in her first senior season.

Spain's Javier Fernandez won the men's title for the sixth time while Russia's Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov retained their pairs crown.

France's Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron set new world records with their free dance and total scores on the way to clinching the European ice dance title for the fourth year in a row.

BOBSLEIGH: Canada's Justin Kripps secured the overall two-man World Cup title thanks to a third-place finish at the season's final race in Germany.

Another Canadian pilot, Kaillie Humphries, clinched her fourth World Cup crown after ending as runner-up in Konigssee.

Germany's Johannes Lochner ended top of the four-man standings despite only finishing fourth on the day.

The four-man sleds piloted by Britons Lamin Deen and Brad Hall finished 19th and 22nd respectively in Sunday's four-man contest, while Mica McNeill ended 17th in the women's event.

CURLING: Britain's Olympic curlers enjoyed solid performances in their last competitive outings before next month's Winter Olympics.

Britain's men's team reached the final of the German Masters in Hamburg, with skip Kyle Smith saying that the result was "a good way to set things up before the Olympics".

Meanwhile, Eve Muirhead and her rink made the last four of the Glynhill Ladies International in Glasgow.

LUGE: Adam Rosen and Rupert Staudinger will become Britain's first Olympic lugers since 2010 after being named in the GB team for Pyeongchang.

It will be 33-year-old Rosen's third Games while 20-year-old Staudinger will making his Olympic debut.

Formidable Fourcade

BIATHLON: Martin Fourcade underlined his status as the world's top biathlete by winning his final race before the Olympics, the mass start in Antholz-Anterselva, Italy, on Sunday. It was the Frenchman's 15th consecutive podium finish on the World Cup circuit.

His biggest rival in Pyeongchang is likely to be Norway's Johannes Thingnes Bo, who won the other two races in Antholz, the sprint and pursuit.

SPEED SKATING: Ireen Wust, the Netherlands' most decorated Olympian, claimed her first World Cup win of the season when she grabbed gold in Saturday's 1500m in Erfurt. Another Dutchwoman, Jorien ter Mors, won the 1000m race.

SKI JUMPING: Norwegian Maren Lundby claimed a fifth consecutive World Cup win to increase her lead in the overall standings. The event in Zao, Japan, saw second and third place go to home favourites Yuki Ito and Sara Takanashi respectively.

BBC coverage this week

Tuesday 23 January

16:30-17:45 & 19:35-21:45, Ski Sunday Extra, BBC red button, connected TVs, website and app. The iconic night slalom from Schladming in Austria with Dave Ryding competing for GB.

Sunday 28 January

17:15-18:00, Ski Sunday, BBC Two (23:00-00:00 in Scotland) - Highlights of the European Open snowboarding competition from Laax in Switzerland and the Schladming night slalom.

The 2018 Winter Olympics take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea, from 9 to 25 February. You will be able to follow live BBC Sport coverage of the Winter Games on TV, radio and online.

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