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Wambach wins FIFA Player of the Year

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The U.S. women’s soccer team capped off an incredible year by taking home the top honors for both FIFA player and coach of the year at the Ballon d’Or gala in Zurich Monday night.

Striker Abby Wambach, who finished in the top-five for the award five times, became the first American in a decade to earn the sport’s top individual award after she scored five goals in the Olympics and led the U.S. to its third consecutive gold.

“Thank you for challenging me every day,” Wambach said of her competitors. “Alex [Morgan] especially.”

Wambach beat out Morgan, her teammate, whose header capped a dramatic semi-final extra time win over Canada during the Olympics, as well as Marta, the Brazilian star who already has five Player of the Year trophies of her own.

Former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage, who heads the Swedish national team, took home Coach of the Year.

Watch NBC Sports’ Alpine skiing World Cup preview video

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NBC Sports will air coverage of 87 Alpine skiing races at 22 resorts across the globe this fall and winter, from October through March, in the final full season before the 2018 Olympics.

Highlights include fall and winter stops in the U.S. with races in Killington, Vt.; Beaver Creek, Colo.; Squaw Valley, Calif.; and the World Cup Finals in Aspen, Colo., in March.

Lindsey Vonn‘s highlighted World Cup stop will be downhill and super-G races in Lake Louise, Canada, the first weekend of December.

The world championships in February will be in St. Moritz, Switzerland, where Ted Ligety and Mikaela Shiffrin will look to defend titles.


Skier goes airborne in World Cup opener (video)

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Canadian skier Phil Brown was fortunate to walk away from an airborne crash at the World Cup season opener in Soelden, Austria, on Sunday.

Brown failed to finish his first run, losing contact with the snow early on and falling hard onto his side.

He tweeted a video of the crash, with slow-motion replays, with a soundtrack of Irish singer Enya‘s “Only Time.”

The World Cup season continues with men’s and women’s slaloms in Levi, Finland, in three weeks.

MORE: Ted Ligety recovers to finish fifth in first race in 9 months