Shaun White

Lucky 13: Shaun White shooting for more X Games gold

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As we approach the one-year-out date from the Sochi Olympics, it’s time for the annual pilgrimage that snowboarders, extreme skiers and, more recently, snowmobile operators make to Aspen, Colo.

The X Games are here.

And what would the X Games be without its biggest star, Shaun White? He’s won the superpipe gold medal the last five years, and aside from a silver medal in 2007 White has another two superpipe titles. That, of course, is in addition to the five slopestyle gold medals he has and the Olympic halfpipe titles he earned in 2006 and 2010.

We’ll see white compete for superpipe gold medal No. 8 on Sunday and his sixth slopestyle win on Saturday. He was recently in Breckenridge, Colo. for a Dew Tour competition and, apparently, to work on some new tricks. As this video shows, White threw down a triple cork 1440 while practicing for slopestyle.

It’s a clear message to his competitors that White, who cut off his famous red hair last month, will be looking for slopestyle gold when the discipline makes its Olympic debut in Sochi.

White’s American teammate Kelly Clark has a decent streak going of her own; she’s won the last two superpipe X Games titles and also won in 2006. In 2004, 2009 and 2010, Clark took silver. In 2008 she earned bronze.

Assuming Clark advances to the final, she will go for gold medal No. 4 Saturday night.

The 29-year-old Clark, who burst onto the scene in 2002 to win the Olympic halfpipe title, recently told ESPN she wants to leave her mark on the sport when she decides to hang up her board. Clark’s foundation has given more than $42,000 in scholarships to young snowboarders since it was established in 2010. At the 2011 X Games, Clark was the first woman in history to land a 1080 – and she was rewarded at the bottom of the pipe by the other competitors, who piled on top of her in celebration for what she had done.

ESPN and ABC will broadcast the X Games starting Thursday, with White closing the Games Sunday night in the superpipe.

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.”

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