Swiss star Gut wins first downhill race
• Quick in training all week, Swiss star Lara Gut carried it over to race day in Beaver Creek, Colo. She breezed to her second World Cup win of the season, taking the season-opening downhill in an event Lindsey Vonn skipped to rehab her right knee. Gut was nearly flawless along the challenging course, finishing in 1 minute, 41.26 seconds. She beat Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein by 0.47 seconds. Elena Fanchini of Italy finished third. Gut had the fastest time in two of three training sessions this week on the course built for the 2015 world championships.
• Kikkan Randall of the United States finished runner-up in a World Cup cross-country race in Kuusamo, Finland, won by Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland. Eirik Brandsdal of Norway was the men’s winner. Kowalczyk captured the 1.4-kilometer sprint in 3 minutes, 6.14 seconds. Randall was 1.69 seconds behind, with Denise Herrmann of Germany in third place, trailing the winner by 2.9 seconds.
• Noelle Pikus-Pace of the United States opened her season with a gold medal at the Calgary stop on the World Cup skeleton circuit. Pikus-Pace, a favorite for the Olympic win at the Sochi Games this winter, finished two runs in 1 minute, 54.88 seconds. Britain’s Elizabeth Yarnold was second, 0.16 seconds behind Pikus-Pace. Russia’s Elena Nikitina took third, another 0.24 seconds off the winning pace. Latvia’s Martins Dukurs picked up where he left off last season as the dominant slider on the men’s tour, winning easily in 1:51.39. He was 0.75 seconds ahead of Russia’s Alexander Tretiakov, and a whopping 1.35 seconds better than third-place Dominic Edward Parsons of Britain.
• Ann Kristin Flatland of Norway won the women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint race at a biathlon World Cup meet in Ostersund, Sweden, shooting cleanly to finish 15.9 seconds ahead of runner-up Olga Zaitseva of Russia. Last year’s overall World Cup winner, Tora Berger of Norway, was third after she missed one target, finishing 22.0 seconds behind Flatland.
Will Take Charge wins the Clark Handicap
• Will Take Charge bounced back from his loss in the Breeders Cup to win the Grade 1, $550,700 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Just 28 days ago, the horse trained by D. Wayne Lukas lost by a nose in the Classic to Mucho Macho Man on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita. This time, it was jockey Luis Saez and the 3-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song — the second betting choice — who scored the narrow victory, winning by a head over favorite Game on Dude and jockey Mike Smith.
— From wire reports