NHL has yet to discuss Olympics in lockout talks

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While we’re edging closer to a deal that would end the NHL lockout, Commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners have yet to address whether the pros will be allowed to compete in the Olympics.

An NHL executive told that it “hasn’t been discussed,” but according to NHL Hall-of-Famer Slava Fetisov, the league may attempt to block its players from the Sochi Games.

“I have a feeling [the NHL] will ban players’ travel in all international competition,” Fetisov told Sport-Express, a Russian paper. “Bettman is not interested in anything except their own Stanley Cup.”

A number of top NHL players, including Russian stars Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin, have expressed their desire to compete in Sochi next winter, with Ovechkin threatening to leave the league if he’s barred from playing in his home country’s Games.

The problem, of course, is that the league will either be forced to take roughly three weeks off to appease the players, or spend three weeks of the season without its stars, neither of which is attractive to the owners.

We don’t imagine this will be a make-or-break issue of the talks, but the fact that something so sensitive to the players has yet to be discussed means the talks may not be as close to over as we thought.

Mikaela Shiffrin wins Aspen World Cup slalom

Mikaela Shiffrin
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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.”

MORE: Hanyu, Miyahara win NHK; Wagner into Grand Prix Final