US speedskating hopeful Theresa Cliff-Ryan injured in crash at practice

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KEARNS, Utah — Olympic hopeful Theresa Cliff-Ryan was injured Monday when she landed on her head after being struck on the sidelines by a crashing speedskater.

The 35-year-old Cliff-Ryan had her back to the ice during an off-day practice session at the Utah Olympic Oval, having completed her workout. Suddenly, Kevin Geminder lost his balance on the front straightaway while going full speed. He slid off the track and right into Cliff-Ryan, flipping her into the air. Trainers raced to the track within seconds and put her in a neck brace.

Cliff-Ryan was placed on a backboard and taken by ambulance to a hospital. There was no immediate word on her condition, but she was conscious and talking to paramedics.

SKIING: Off to a poor start during pre-Olympics races, U.S. ski racer Julia Mancuso says she’s “taking a short break at home.”

Mancuso has won three Olympic medals but has only one top-15 finish through 10 World Cup races this season leading up to the Sochi Games, which begin Feb. 7.

In a Facebook posting Monday, Mancuso says, “You learn the most when things don’t go as planned.”

She says she wants to have time off “to change my perspective, hit the recharge button, explore some equipment issues with my intuition, and most of all have fun with my friends and family.”

The 29-year-old Mancuso won a gold medal in giant slalom at the 2006 Olympics, and silvers in downhill and super-combined in 2010.

OBITUARY: Eero Mantyranta, a three-time Olympic cross-country skiing champion from Finland, died Monday. He was 76.

Mantyranta died in a hospital in the city Oulu in western Finland, Finnish Skiing Association spokeswoman Anna-Mari Vuollet said.

Mantyranta helped Finland win the men’s 10-kilometer relay at the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics and won the 15-kilomter and 30-kilometer individual races at the 1964 Innsbruck Games. He also earned two Olympic silver medals and two bronzes, as well as two world championship gold medals in Oslo in 1966 and Zakopane in 1962.


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