A new nickname for the ‘Fierce Five’

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We need to be honest with ourselves and admit that there is nothing remotely fierce about the ‘Fierce Five.’ They’re all five-foot nothing and could be held off with an extended arm. It’s a really terrible nickname and we need to stop using it. Unfortunately Gymnastics USA has adopted it on their website, so we’re probably already too late.

Still, hear me out. Nicknames used to come with more panache than some alliteration and the ability to count. Football had Pittsburgh’s “Steel Curtain” and Denver’s “Orange Crush,” basketball had Detroit’s “Bad Boys” and L.A.’s “Showtime,” and of course baseball has the “Bronx Bombers.” So let’s think a little harder before we put a final label on these girls, lest their incredible accomplishments enter into history with a sub-par nickname.

“Golden Girls” is dumb and too easy, “America’s Queens” is cliché, and we can think of four people (and their mothers) who wouldn’t like “Gabby and the Girls,” or “Aly and her Allies” – but seriously, those are two awesome names. We could be talked into “Bratz” or “the Freshmen” because they both make sense in context, but they probably wouldn’t be popular, much like the Bratz and most actual freshmen.

So now we’re left thinking outside the box and for our money the best answer is “the Gym Rats.” And sure, we’re almost certain most teen girls don’t like to be called rats in any context, but it’s a positive term for people who work hard and never rest until they achieve their goals and we think these girls fit that bill. Plus, gymnastics takes place in a gym, so it works on a number of levels. Tell us we’re wrong.

So that’s what we’re going with now. Please join us in demanding better nicknames for our proud athletes. And lastly, I’m sorry, but the “Magnificent Seven” is a group of gunslingers led by Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, no matter how amazing Kerri Strug’s vault was in ‘96. Let’s retroactively fix that one, too.

Mikaela Shiffrin wins Aspen World Cup slalom

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With a slalom win today in Aspen, Colo., Mikaela Shiffrin broke some of the barriers she had been chasing.

En route to her fourth consecutive slalom World Cup title – which would tie the record for the most with Switzerland’s Vreni Schneider from 1992-95 – she became the first female skier to win four World Cup slalom races in a row since Austria’s Marlies Schild did it in the 2011-12 season.

In addition, Shiffrin became the first female skier from the U.S. to win a slalom World Cup race in Aspen. And she’s now tied with France’s Perrine Pelen for sixth overall with total slalom World Cup victories.

“I was pissed after I made that ridiculous mistake yesterday,” Shiffrin said to media, referencing yesterday’s giant slalom crash. Both her and Lindsey Vonn crashed and did not finish in Aspen’s giant slalom. “I tried to use that anger today.”

Shiffrin called the mistake a “brainfart” and Vonn dismissed it because “giant slalom isn’t [her] strongest event.”

Slovakia’s Veronika Velez Zuzulova was second behind Shiffrin, followed by Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter.

By finishing behind Shiffrin in Aspen, Zuzulova extends her slalom World Cup podium finish streak to four.

Hansdotter has the second-most second place World Cup slalom finishes at 13 total, including today’s race. Only Pernilla Wiberg, of Sweden, has more with a total of 14.

MORE: Shiffrin, Vonn discuss friendship and rivalry

Fencing great Valentina Vezzali fails to qualify for Rio 2016

Mario Monti, Valentina Vezzali
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TURIN, Italy (AP) – Six-time Olympic champion fencer Valentina Vezzali has failed to qualify for next year’s Rio de Janeiro Games.

The 41-year-old Vezzali was eliminated in the second round of the foil event at the Trofeo Inalpi meet Saturday, while Italian teammate Arianna Errigo reached the semifinals and gained the necessary points to qualify.

Vezzali won at least one gold at the last five Olympics in either individual or team foil. She has a total of nine Olympic medals and 25 at world championships.

Her second son was born in 2013, the year in which she also became a member of Italy’s parliament.

Vezzali told the Gazzetta dello Sport this week that “I had another son and it was really difficult to come back. … I don’t think I have anything else to prove.”

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