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American Skier Shiffrin Wins Record 83rd World Cup Race

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SAN VIGILIO DI MAREBBE, Italy — Tiredness. Relief. Satisfaction.

Mikaela Shiffrin, an American skier, felt all that and more after winning her 83rd World Cup race on Tuesday.

Shiffrin’s giant slalom victory broke a tie for first place on the all-time women’s list with former American teammate Lindsey Vonn, who retired four years ago due to injuries.

“I don’t think there are words to express everything,” Shiffrin said. “At the end, it’s almost as if there’s too much excitement to feel. I’m not sure if that makes sense. So it’s something you’re unable to explain. So I try to relax and enjoy it.”

Shiffrin now only needs three more victories to equal Ingemar Stenmark’s overall record of 86 victories (male and female). Stenmark raced in the 1970s and 1980s.

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Shiffrin Lead The Pack

Shiffrin led from start to finish at Kronplatz in the Italian Dolomites, finishing 0.45 seconds ahead of world champion Lara Gut-Behrami and 1.43 seconds ahead of home favorite and former overall champion Federica Brignone.

Shiffrin had the fastest first run and thus was the last skier to compete in the second run.

“I was a little nervous for the second run, but I hate waiting,” Shiffrin explained. “Finally, when it was time to go, then it was like everything went quiet, and I just pushed as hard as I could every turn. Coming through the finish line and seeing how fast I was amazing. Because I could hear the other competitors skiing well. ‘I could lose this, so I should try to ski a good run,’ I reasoned. That it was.”

Shiffrin appeared exhausted and relieved immediately after finishing, bending over and resting her head on her poles before kissing Gut-Behrami and Brignone.

“Congratulations,” Brignone said to Shiffrin, who replied, “Oh my god.”

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Celebrating Other Team Mates

Unlike when she burst into tears after matching Vonn’s record of 82 victories earlier this month in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, Shiffrin maintained her cool during the playing of her national anthem, singing along to the lyrics.

A gold-colored crown was then placed on top of her head.

Shiffrin’s ninth victory of the season.

Furthermore, Shiffrin is still only 27 years old and could have many more years of elite racing ahead of her. Vonn was 33 at the time of her last World Cup victory, while Stenmark was 32.

“I just feel so fortunate to be her teammate in this era and to watch her break history every day,” Nina O’Brien, the only other American finisher in 18th, said. “She’s also been very encouraging.”

Paula Moltzan, an American skier, was fifth after the first run but fell midway through her second run, losing her balance and twisting around before sliding down the mountain.

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Most Successful Skier In History

The achievement comes nearly a year after Shiffrin failed to win a medal in six events at the Beijing Olympics, despite high expectations. She didn’t take long to recover from her performance in Beijing, winning her fourth World Cup.

She is the most successful female skier in history.

“That’s a pretty good image for the sport, for women’s Alpine skiers,” said GS world champion Tessa Worley. “And she’s still doing incredible things. So it serves as motivation for us to keep going.”

Shiffrin had to learn how to deal with the nerves that come with taking the lead in the first run.

“It’s still difficult for me to believe that I have the mental focus to be strong again in the second run,” she said. “That’s not something I take for granted.”

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She Finished Quickly

Shiffrin began her second run immediately after Gut-Behrami had taken a commanding lead.

“I saw her from the start, and then I was thinking, ‘Why did I watch? That’s too fast for me.’ So I was a little wild in some spots, but it felt so clean,” Shiffrin explained. “I expected to be close but not faster. And then, somehow, I made it to the end, and it was quite good.”

Shiffrin can quickly add to her record total in another giant slalom on Wednesday at Kronplatz. Then she has two slaloms in Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic, next weekend — her best event, accounting for 51 of her 83 victories. Shiffrin made her World Cup debut there as a 15-year-old in March 2011.

If she wins her next three races, she could catch Stenmark by Sunday.

Shiffrin will be a medal contender again at the world championships in Courchevel and Meribel, France, which begin on February 6.

 

 

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SUPER BOWL: Chiefs, Eagles Land In Phoenix, Prepare For Super Bowl 57

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PHOENIX SUPER BOWL — A few minutes after the Kansas City Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes touched down in Phoenix, the pilot hung a “Chiefs Kingdom” flag out the window as players, coaches, and staff walked across the runway.

The Philadelphia Eagles arrived in Arizona about an hour later, with an “It’s a Philly Thing” flag fluttering on the runway as quarterback Jalen Hurts, coach Nick Sirianni, and others made their way to a fleet of buses.

One week until Super Bowl 57.

The Chiefs will play the Eagles in Glendale, Arizona, on February 12.

Both teams touched down at Goldwater Air National Guard Base in perfect Phoenix winter weather, with bright sunshine and temperatures in the low 70s. On the runway, team members would occasionally stop to take photos and videos.

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Players Prepare For Super Bowl Game Day

Former Kansas City Chiefs star Christian Okoye was on hand to hand out hats to the team’s players as they stepped off the plane. The former All-American running back lived in Southern California and traveled to Phoenix for a quick visit.

“They called and asked me to come over and greet the team,” Okoye explained. “So I said, ‘Of course,’ because my team is over here preparing to win the Super Bowl.”

The oddsmakers predict a good game, but they disagree with Okoye and give the Eagles a slight advantage. According to FanDuel Sportsbook, Philadelphia opened as a 1 1/2-point favorite.

The Chiefs are going to their third Super Bowl in four years. Last weekend, they beat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 with a 45-yard field goal with 3 seconds left in the AFC championship game.

In the NFC championship game, the Eagles defeated the San Francisco 49ers 31-7. So far in the playoffs, they’ve looked dominant, including a 38-7 victory over the New York Giants in the divisional round.

Philadelphia is back in the Super Bowl after defeating the New England Patriots 41-33 five years ago.

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The Eagles Will Go Arizona To Defend Their Title

The Eagles will go to Arizona to defend their title. Hurts and Sirianni will lead a mostly new group of players.

On Monday, both teams will participate in the “Super Bowl LVII Opening Night” in downtown Phoenix, where all the players and coaches from both teams will be available for the annual media extravaganza.

Then it’s time to get down to business. The Chiefs will practice at Arizona State’s football facilities throughout the week, while the Eagles will prepare at the Arizona Cardinals practice facility.

There are plenty of storylines: Kansas City coach Andy Reid faces his former team — which he led to Super Bowl 39 — in a game that also features the first Super Bowl matchup of Black starting quarterbacks, with Mahomes and Hurts.

There will also be a brother-versus-brother matchup between Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce and Philadelphia center Jason Kelce.

SOURCE – (AP)

 

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OLYMPICS: Ukraine Pushes To Exclude Russia From 2024 Paris Olympics

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KYIV, Ukraine — With the Olympics in Paris next year looming and Russia’s invasion appearing to be a protracted conflict, Ukraine’s sports minister renewed a threat to boycott the games if Russia and Belarus are allowed to compete, said Kyiv would lobby other countries to join.

Such a move could cause the greatest schism in the Olympic movement since the Cold War.

No country has declared a boycott of the 2024 Summer Olympics. However, Ukraine received backing from Poland, the Baltic countries, and Denmark, who opposed an International Olympic Committee plan to allow delegations from Russia and its ally Belarus to compete in Paris as “neutral athletes” without flags or anthems.

“We cannot compromise on the admission of Russian and Belarusian athletes,” said Ukrainian Sports Minister Vadym Huttsait, who also chairs the country’s national Olympic committee, citing attacks on his country, athlete deaths, and the destruction of sports facilities.

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Ukraine Will Boycott The Olympics

His committee meeting didn’t decide to boycott, but they agreed to try to convince sports officials worldwide over the next two months, including talking about a possible boycott.

“As a last resort, but please keep in mind that this is my personal opinion,” Huttsait added, “if we do not succeed, we will have to boycott the Olympic Games.”

Paris will be the final Olympics under outgoing IOC President Thomas Bach, who is looking to leave a legacy after a tenure marked by disagreements over Russia’s status — first over widespread doping scandals and now over the Ukraine war.

Bach’s views were formed while he was an Olympic gold medallist in fencing, and his country, West Germany, boycotted the 1980 Olympics in Moscow in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He has since condemned that decision.

Russia has cautiously welcomed the IOC’s decision to grant it a path to the Olympics but has demanded that it drop a condition that would exclude athletes deemed to be “actively supporting the war in Ukraine.”

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Russia Says Teams Will Compete

The head of the Russian Olympic Committee, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, who was on Huttsait’s team at the 1992 Olympics, thought that was unfair. The IOC once said that Russia and Belarus shouldn’t be allowed to compete in world sports for safety reasons. It now says that it can’t treat them differently just because of where they live.

The leaders of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania urged the IOC to ban Russia and warned of a boycott.

“I believe our efforts should be focused on persuading our other friends and allies that the participation of Russian and Belarussian athletes is simply wrong,” Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said. “The next step is to boycott. “I believe people will understand why this is required.”

“This threat of a boycott only leads to further escalation of the situation, not only in sport but also in the broader context,” the IOC said in a statement. Regrettably, politicians use athletes and sports as tools to achieve their political goals.”

“Why punish athletes from your country for the Russian government starting the war?” it asked bluntly.

In a statement next week, Poland’s sports minister, Kamil Bortniczuk, said that up to 40 countries could condemn Russian and Belarussian participation in Paris but that a boycott threat could be avoided. He told the state news agency PAP that the IOC was “naive” and should reconsider its stance.

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Denmark Also Wants Athletes To Stay Home

Denmark wants Russian athletes barred from participating in “all international sports as long as their attacks on Ukraine continue,” according to Danish Culture Minister Jakob Engel-Schmidt.

“We must not waver in our approach to Russia. The government’s position is unequivocal. “Russia must be prohibited,” he stated. “This also applies to Russian athletes competing under neutral flags. It is incomprehensible that the IOC appears to have reservations about the line.”

When asked about the boycott threats and the IOC plan, Paris 2024 organizing committee head Tony Estanguet said he couldn’t comment “on political decisions.”

“My job is to ensure that all athletes who want to participate are provided with the best security conditions and that they have the opportunity to live their dream,” he said in Marseille.

Last year, Ukraine boycotted some sporting events rather than compete against Russians.

Huttsait said a boycott would be very tough, saying it was “very important for us that our flag is at the Olympic Games; it is very important for us that our athletes are on the podium. So that we can demonstrate that our Ukraine was, is, and will be.”

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Athletes Prepared For A Boycott

Marta Fedina, a 21-year-old Olympic bronze medallist in artistic swimming, declared in Kyiv that she was “prepared for a boycott.”

“How will I explain to our defenders that I am even on the same sports field as these people?” she asked, referring to Russian athletes. She noted that the war had destroyed her swimming pool in Kharkiv, where she lived when Moscow invaded.

Speakers at the Ukrainian Olympic Committee’s assembly meeting expressed concern about Moscow’s use of Paris for propaganda, and some athletes have close ties to the Russian military.

If athletes from the two countries compete, “it should be absolutely clear that they are not representing the Russian or Belarusian states,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday. The Olympics will be held in Los Angeles in 2028.

If the IOC’s proposal is implemented, it will be the fourth consecutive Olympics in which Russian athletes compete without the national flag or anthem. After a series of doping scandals, the Russian teams at the Winter Olympics in 2018 and 2022 and the Summer Olympics in 2021 were all in trouble.

The last time many countries boycotted an Olympics was in 1988, when North Korea and others refused to attend the Summer Games in South Korea. Fears about the coronavirus pandemic kept the North Korean team from going to the Tokyo Games in 2021. As a result, the IOC barred it from the following Winter Games in Beijing, claiming that teams had a duty to attend every Olympics.

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Belurussian Athletes Under The Same Scrutiny

Although the IOC set the tone of the debate by publishing advice on how to help Russia and Belarus compete, decisions for the governing bodies of individual sports that organize events on the 32-sport Paris program must be made.

These organizations, many of which are based in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the IOC is based, run their qualifying and Olympic competitions and decide who can compete and who can’t.

Before the IOC’s Olympic qualifying events, the International Cycling Union agreed to allow Russian and Belarussian athletes to compete as “neutrals.”

Most sports, including track and field World Athletics and soccer FIFA, excluded Russian athletes and teams within days of the war’s start. Tennis and cycling have allowed many Russians and Belarusians to compete as neutrals. Other governing bodies are more closely aligned with the IOC or have historically had close commercial and political ties with Russia.

The umbrella group of Summer Games sports, ASOIF, may hold a key meeting on March 3 in Lausanne. It is chaired by Francesco Ricci Bitti, a member of the IOC when he led the International Tennis Federation, and includes World Athletics president Sebastian Coe.

The ASOIF declined to comment on Friday but stated this week that “it is critical to respect the specificity of each federation and their particular qualification process” for Paris.

SOURCE – (AP)

 

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Tennis Pro Varvara Lepchenko’s Doping Ban Cut To 21 months

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As part of a deal with the International Tennis Federation, Varvara Lepchenko, a former top-20 tennis player and US Olympian, had her doping ban cut from four years to 21 months.

After Lepchenko appealed her suspension to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the two sides came to a deal.

The agreement was signed in October, approved by CAS on Tuesday, and made public on Friday by the ITF. The World Anti-Doping Agency also approved it.

The stimulant was found in Lepchenko’s urine sample following a first-round loss at the Hungarian Grand Prix in July 2021. Then she competed in three more events and won a title in Charleston, South Carolina. She was then temporarily banned from competing for four years, starting in August 2021.

Her appeal to CAS was based on her later discovery, in a travel bag, of a bottle of capsules containing the substance for which she tested positive — an ingredient not listed on the bottle label.

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Tennis Pro Gets Changed With 12 Months

According to a news release from the ITF on Friday, Lepchenko and the ITF agreed that she broke the rules and will not be able to compete for 21 months. Her ban will start in August 2021, which is when her last match was, and end this May.

“Varvara is relieved that, after a lengthy investigation, she was able to establish that her positive test was caused by a contaminated supplement that did not disclose the presence of the banned substance on its label,” Lepchenko’s lawyer, Howard Jacobs, wrote in an email to The Associated Press. Tennis “She is excited to return to the WTA Tour in May.”

This was Lepchenko’s second doping case, but the ITF treated it as if it were her first because she was found not to be at fault in her previous case, in which she tested positive for meldonium, the heart medication that led to Maria Sharapova’s doping ban.

She Won Over 5 Million In Prize Money

Lepchenko, 36, has competed for the US in the Olympics and the Billie Jean King Cup.

She has won over $5 million in prize money and peaked at No. 19 in the WTA in 2012. That year, at the French Open, she reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time, defeating 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone. In 2015, Lepchenko advanced to the fourth round of the US Open.

Lepchenko was born in the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan. She and her father and sister later moved to Florida. She was granted political asylum, moved to Pennsylvania in 2003, and became a citizen of the United States in 2011.

SOURCE – (AP)

 

 

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