Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova speeds down the course during a women’s World Cup parallel giant slalom in Lech/Zuers, Austria on Thursday. Giovanni Auletta/Associated Press


WOMEN’S WORLD CUP: Petra Vlhova won her third World Cup race in six days Thursday, beating unheralded Paula Moltzan of the United States in a floodlit parallel event in Lech-Zuers, Austria.

Coming off two straight slalom wins in Finland last weekend, Vlhova won the first run of the final against Moltzan by 0.21 seconds. The American seemed to have made up the deficit in the deciding run on the faster blue course but she crashed four gates short of the finish. It was the American’s first career podium on the World Cup, less than six weeks after she earned her first top 10 at the season-opening giant slalom in Austria.

Vlhova extended her lead in the overall standings. The World Cup slalom champion from Slovakia was on the podium in all four races so far, having finished third in the season-opening giant slalom in October.

Former overall champion Lara Gut-Behrami, who was the fastest in qualification earlier Thursday, finished third after beating Sara Hector in the small final.

Mikaela Shiffrin, who returned from her 10-month break from racing with second and fifth-place finishes in Finland last weekend, skipped the event. The three-time overall champion preferred to train for upcoming super-G races and giant slaloms. Limited in her options by the pandemic and a back injury, Shiffrin had only trained slalom recently.


In the absence of her teammate with 66 World Cup wins, Moltzan came close to her first.

MEN’S WORLD CUP: Two men’s World Cup races scheduled in France next week were switched to Italy on Thursday because of a lack of snow.

The International Ski Federation said Val d’Isere could not stage giant slaloms on Dec. 5-6 which now go to Santa Caterina Valfurva. The canceled races were due to open three straight weekends of World Cup races at Val d’Isere in a redrafted program that skips North America during travel restrictions in the coronavirus pandemic.

Until the global health crisis, the men’s circuit was to spend the first weekend in December racing at Beaver Creek, Colorado, before returning to Europe. Val d’Isere is scheduled to host men’s downhill and super-G races on Dec. 12-13. Three women’s speed races are scheduled at the French Alps resort on Dec. 18-20.


UEFA LEVIES LIFETIME BAN: A club official from Azerbaijan was banned from soccer for life by UEFA on Thursday for “racist behavior” after posting comments on social media. Nurlan Ibrahimov wrote the comments, which were allegedly about Armenians and not linked to soccer, during conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia which flared again in September over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.


UEFA, which did not give details about the comments, said it would ask FIFA to extend the ban worldwide against Ibrahimov, who worked as a press officer for Europa League club Qarabag.

Qarabag was also fined $119,000 by UEFA’s disciplinary panel, which found charges of “racist behavior” and an incident “of a non-sporting nature” proven against the club and its employee.


COLEMAN APPEALS: Men’s 100-meter world champion Christian Coleman has formally appealed against his two-year ban for missing multiple doping tests, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said Thursday.

The court also received an appeal by the World Athletics governing body against a decision to clear women’s 400-meter world champion Salwa Eid Naser on a technicality despite facing similar charges as Coleman.

The verdicts in the separate cases will have a big impact on two of the most anticipated sprint events at the Tokyo Olympics next year.


Coleman is challenging a two-year ban imposed last month by an independent tribunal at track and field’s Athletics Integrity Unit. The American sprinter had three so-called “whereabouts failures” – missed tests or not updating details where sample collection officials could find him – in a one-year period to trigger a doping violation.

Coleman asked for his ban, which currently rules him out of the Olympics, to “be eliminated, or in the alternative, reduced,” the court said in a statement.


EUROPEAN TOUR: Robin Roussel reeled off five straight birdies at the start of his back nine to shoot a 7-under 65 and take a share of the first-round lead at the European Tour’s Alfred Dunhill Championship on Thursday in Malelane, South Africa.

Roussel also finished with a birdie, his ninth of the day at Leopard Creek. He made two bogeys. The Frenchman was tied with Adrian Meronk of Poland, who had two eagles in his opening round. Scott Jamieson is one shot back in third and Richard Bland was fourth after a 67.

Roussel has fond memories of Leopard Creek, having achieved his best finish on the tour here last year when he was tied for 14th. He also benefited on Thursday by having local caddie Army Nathi Mdluli on his bag.

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