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Odermatt bets on downhill breakthrough for Kitzbuehel glory

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Odermatt bets on downhill breakthrough for Kitzbuehel glory

Swiss tyro Marco Odermatt has yet to win a World Cup downhill race, but the runaway leader in the overall standings believes he has “two good chances” to win in Kitzbuehel.

Olympic giant slalom gold medallist Odermatt s confidence is nothing short of brazen given the Streif piste in the Austrian resort is widely regarded as the most testing on the circuit.

“To win here is a dream, and to win a downhill in general is also a dream,” the 25-year-old acknowledged.

Odermatt touched down in Kitzbuehel after two impressive podiums on home snow in Wengen: a third place in the super-G and second in downhill.

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Seeking back-to-back World Cup overall crowns, Odermatt has won 11 times in the giant slalom and six in super-G, but a downhill title remains elusive despite eight podium finishes including second place in Kitzbuehel last season.

“I was very close to winning last year, then again at the start of this season (when he was edged into second in Beaver Creek). In Wengen last week I was further behind Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, but here I ll have two good chances.”

Odermatt added: “Wengen was tough for the head and legs. I was tired right through Monday but feel better now. I went home for just a day, barely enough time to pack some clean clothes in my suitcase.”

Norway s Kilde stands second in the overall standings, but has previous form in Kitzbuehel, winning a downhill last season, a fact he said made him optimistic.

“It s different having won here one time,” said the Norwegian, whose partner is American star Mikaela Shiffrin. “I can come knowing that I m capable of winning and that gives me confidence.

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“My form has never been as good. I m enjoying myself and that s the most important thing to keep up motivation every weekend.

“I feel different this year, less stressed at the startgate. I know I m skiing well at the moment. I m excited!”

Kilde came in second in Tuesday s first training run albeit missing a gate, while Wednesday s second training was cancelled amid heavy snow. A third training session is scheduled for Thursday.

The covering of white at least hid the brown and green terrain that was showing through on the Hahnenkamm mountain.

“Unfortunately we re starting to get used to it this winter,” he said of a lack of snow.

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“But the piste is exceptional, they ve done an amazing job, it s excellent to ski on.”

Odermatt agreed, saying: “The slope is steep in Kitzbuehel, faster than in Wengen.

“I like this downhill. This year it ll be easier to ski, it ll be less icy than usual!”

One skier who will be making his final appearance at Kitzbuehel will be Odermatt s teammate Beat Feuz, a three-time winner on the Streif and current Olympic downhill champion.

Feuz will hang up his skis at the end of the season after a storied career.

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“It s emotional,” Kilde said of Feuz s final outing down the Streif.

“He s brought so much to this sport, producing some of the best runs in history, like Matthias Mayer,” the now-retired Austrian who claimed wins in the super-G and downhill in Kitzbuehel.

“It ll really be different without Beat. We had a great battle for the globe last year.

“He s so smooth, his way of gliding over the snow, like some kind of cat, beautiful to watch.

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Sinisterra signs long-term deal with Bournemouth

Sinisterra signs long-term deal with Bournemouth

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Sinisterra signs long-term deal with Bournemouth

Luis Sinisterra has made his move to AFC Bournemouth from Leeds United permanent, signing a long-term deal with the Premier League team on Friday.

Bournemouth reportedly agreed to a £20 million fee with Championship (second-tier) side Leeds.

The 24-year-old Colombian had been impressive since joining Bournemouth in September on a loan spell from Leeds United, with three goals and three assists in his 17 appearances.

“I’m really happy to make this move. I’m excited to play for Bournemouth for the long term,” Sinisterra said. “I feel really comfortable here and the fans are really nice. When I meet them in the streets, they show the love.”

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Andoni Iraola’s team are 12th in the table on 27 points, but are winless in their last four games. They play Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday. 

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Son and Bissouma ready for Spurs game with Brighton

Son and Bissouma ready for Spurs game with Brighton

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Son and Bissouma ready for Spurs game with Brighton

 Son Heung-min and Yves Bissouma returned to Tottenham Hotspur this week from international duty, and both are ready for Spurs’ game with Brighton & Hove Albion, manager Ange Postecoglou said on Friday.

Son was involved with South Korea at the Asian Cup where they lost to Jordan in the semi-final on Tuesday while Bissouma’s Mali exited the Africa Cup of Nations last weekend at the quarter-final stage.

Spurs, fifth in the standings on 44 points, host Brighton on Saturday, with Roberto De Zerbi’s side in eighth place on 35 points.

“Sonny and Biss they trained well. Sonny did recovery on Thursday and trained today,” Postecoglou told a press conference.

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“He is very disappointed for Korea’s exit, at the semi-final stage you feel so close. But he gave everything for his nation, no-one could question his commitment.

“I spoke to him after and he was keen to be back, so no surprise he was back training straight away.”

The manager also played down concerns over Bissouma, after media reports that he had played through the illness with malaria at the tournament.

“No, that’s not right. He had a slight form of malaria before the tournament, but it cleared up by the start of tournament. He’s 100 percent now.”

Manor Solomon hasn’t played since September and Postecoglou confirmed that the winger had another procedure on his knee earlier this week and is still another two or three weeks away from a return.

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Another injury concern was Giovani Lo Celso who missed the last three league games for Spurs.

“Lo Celso trained all week but he’s missed a fair bit of football so we’ll see whether he needs another week or not,” the manager said.

“It’s probably, for want of a better word, the healthiest squad we’ve had for quite a while anyway.”

Spurs conceded an added-time equaliser at Everton last weekend and lost to a late Nathan Ake goal against Manchester City in the FA Cup, but conceding late is not something that overly concerns their manager.

“It’s disappointing to concede goals at any point. People will want to analyse it,” Postecoglou said.

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“I’m sorry but we’re going to be a team that will score or concede goals late. The way we want to close out games is by trying to score goals late on.

“One thing we’re not going to do is jump at shadows and try to fix the latest thing being analysed.” 

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Fils ends ‘great champion’ Gasquet’s 956 weeks in top 100

Fils ends ‘great champion’ Gasquet’s 956 weeks in top 100

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Fils ends 'great champion' Gasquet's 956 weeks in top 100

 Rising star Arthur Fils beat fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet at the Auckland Classic on Tuesday to end the veteran’s run of more than 18 years in the world’s top 100.

The 19-year-old Fils cruised to a 6-3, 6-4 victory against the 37-year-old Gasquet, who had enjoyed a remarkable 956 consecutive weeks in the top 100, peaking at number seven in July 2007.

Gasquet was defending the Auckland title and points he won 12 months ago, so the first-round defeat will see him slide down from 76th in the world when new rankings are released next week.

Fils, with a booming serve that produced nine aces, broke at 2-2 in the first set and at 1-1 in the second and applauded Gasquet as he left the court.

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“He’s a great champion. He did an unbelievable career so I’m really happy to play on the court with him,” said Fils, who reached the quarter-finals of the Hong Kong Open last week.

“But it was a nice match for my part and I’m really happy.”

In other action, Canada’s Denis Shapovalov looked rusty in his first match since Wimbledon last year, losing Austria’s Sebastian Ofner 6-4, 6-2.

Roberto Bautista Agut was beaten by fellow Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4, 6-4 and eighth seed Max Purcell of Australia overcame New Zealand’s 716th-ranked wildcard Kiranpal Pannu 6-4, 6-4.

The top four seeds, Ben Shelton, Cameron Norrie, Francisco Cerundolo and Felix Auger-Aliassime, all had first-round byes. 

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