Maze takes lead in slalom standings; looks to sweep season titles

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Alpine skier Tina Maze of Slovenia won yet another race this weekend to take the lead in the slalom World Cup standings. She aims to be the first woman ever to sweep all five disciplines as the season comes to a close this week.

Maze earned her record tying 22nd podium finish of the year Sunday in Ofterschwang, Germany, clocking a combined time of 1:52.85 for her two runs to hold off Wendy Holdener of Switzerland and American teen Mikaela Shiffrin.

“There was a bit of nervousness there, because it’s a discipline in which you have to attack and risk a little bit,” Maze told the Associated Press. “So for me today, it was important just to stay calm and ski – not to think too much.”

But Shiffrin, who won her first slalom world title last month in Schladming, Switzerland, can take the discipline title away from Maze with a victory in the season finale this Saturday.

“It isn’t over until the fat lady sings. It’s good that it’s exciting to the end,” Shiffrin said. “I’ll just go as hard as I can and see if I can get [the lead] back. If not, I’ve still had an amazing season so I can’t be disappointed. I can definitely be proud of myself but you always want more.”

Maze is still (somehow) behind Lindsey Vonn for the downhill title, despite the fact that Vonn missed a month with an intestinal illness back in November and blew out her knee last month at worlds.

Maze needs to finish 15th or better to take the downhill title, but Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany and Stacey Cook of the U.S. can also win the season championship if either wins this week in Switzerland.

WADA investigates report that 10,000 Chinese athletes doped

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BERLIN (AP) — The World Anti-Doping Agency is looking into allegations made by a German broadcaster that Chinese athletes benefited from systematic doping in the 1980s and 90s.

“The allegations were brought forward by former Chinese physician, Xue Yinxian, who is said to have looked after several national teams in China during the decades in question,” WADA said Monday.

Xue, who recently arrived in Germany and is seeking political asylum with her son, told broadcaster ARD that more than 10,000 athletes were affected, some as young as 11, and that anyone who was against doping was considered “a danger to the country. And anyone who endangered the country is now in prison.”

The 79-year-old Xue said she lost her job with the national gymnastics team after refusing to treat an athlete with doping substances before the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

She said she had not felt safe in her home city of Beijing since 2012, when she first made her allegations of doping. She first started working with China’s national teams in the 1970s.

“In the 1980s and ’90s, Chinese athletes on the national teams made extensive use of doping substances,” she told ARD. “Medals were showered in doping. Gold, silver and bronze. All international medals should be withdrawn.”

WADA said it will examine “whether such a system may have prevailed beyond these decades.”

The first step, WADA said, was for its “independent intelligence and investigations team to initiate an investigative process in order to collect and analyze available information in coordination with external partners.”

Xue, who continued to work at lower levels after being dismissed from the national team in 1988, said she was only approached afterward when athletes developed problems because of the substances they were given.

“One trainer came to me and said, ‘Doctor Xue, the boys’ breasts keep getting bigger,’” Xue said. “These boys were about 13 to 14 years old.”

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PyeongChang Olympic organizers downplay North Korea concern

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ANCIENT OLYMPIA, Greece (AP) — PyeongChang Olympic organizers played down concern over ongoing tensions with North Korea and also say work has been completed on all venues for the Winter Games.

Lee Hee-beom, president of the PyeongChang organizing committee, said the International Olympic Committee has made it very clear that the Feb. 9-25 Winter Games will go ahead as scheduled.

Speaking at the birthplace of the ancient Olympics shortly after the last rehearsal for Tuesday’s official flame-lighting ceremony, Lee said “there is no Plan B.”

Lee said South Korean officials are working closely with all relevant parties to ensure the Winter Games are safe and secure.

He said his main concern for the Olympics is the weather.

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