AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Katelyn Ohashi reigns in Worcester; wins first senior event

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If any conclusions could be drawn from Saturday’s AT&T American Cup as we start the run up to Rio, it’s this: We’re in for a lot more hot pink leotards. And a lot more WOGA champions.

In her much anticipated senior debut, Katelyn Ohashi did as expected: She won. Ohashi now joins Carly Patterson, Nastia Liukin, and Rebecca Bross as the latest WOGA gymnasts to claim the American Cup Title. Patterson and Liukin went on the become Olympic all-around champions, so no pressure or anything, Katelyn. Her American teammate Simone Biles, also in her first senior competition, finished in second.

“It was amazing just to be here,” Ohashi said after a strong performance on the beam helped her to victory. “It was my first senior event, so that’s a big confidence-builder for me.”

Victoria Moors proved herself as one of Canada’s best gymnasts in decades by placing third behind the Americans after capping her day with a phenomenal performance on the floor. It might be too early to paint her as a favorite in that discipline when worlds comes around, but just barely.

On the men’s side, 2012 Olympian Jake Dalton put together one of the most consistent performances of his career to win in a deep field, while defending American Cup champ Danell Leyva struggled with consistency to finish in 6th. Leyva, who was also reportedly suffering from flu like symptoms, opted to continue in the competition after completely balking a tumbling pass on floor – an utterly bizarre error for senior competition. He picked up momentum going in to the final rotation, but fell off the high bar.

Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev – a favorite among gymnastics enthusiasts – finished second, and should be a name to watch in the coming three years leading to Rio. Marcel Nguyen of Germany, the fan favorite and reigning Olympic all-around silver medalist, finished third.

The American Cup marks the opening of the gymnastics season for many competitors, and errors can be common place for the athletes as they try out new routines and more difficult skills to adapt to the newly revised code of points. Saturday proved that many of the gymnasts are still working out the kinks in preparation for October’s 2013 world championships in Belgium.

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.

“I don’t know if the stars will ever align like that again,” Shiffrin said in a media conference after being told she won with the biggest margin of victory in the history of women’s slalom since 1968: 3.07 seconds. “I don’t think [my competitors] are going to let me get away with three seconds ever again.”

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.”

But, Shiffrin added that she already has her mind set on tomorrow, where she races slalom again, on NBC at 3 p.m. ET. The complete of the Olympic sports schedule is here.

“I just as quickly have to go back and settle in,” she said. “Tomorrow is a new race. I have to find a different motivation and try to take the same mentality and keep fighting.”

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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