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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.

Blake Griffin will miss Olympics, report says

Blake Griffin
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For the second straight Olympics, Blake Griffin will not be able to join Team USA due to injury, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Los Angeles Clippers power forward will be out several months due to his left quad injury, according to the newspaper.

Griffin was originally chosen for the 2012 U.S. Olympic team but withdrew due to a torn meniscus, opening a spot for Anthony Davis.

Davis is also expected to miss the Rio Games due to injury.

Other power forwards on the U.S. finalist list released in January include LaMarcus Aldridge, Kenneth Faried, Draymond Green and Kevin Love.

Rio Olympic cauldron likely to be located near Plaza Maua

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Mayor Eduardo Paes says he wants the Olympic cauldron to burn in Rio de Janeiro’s revitalized port area.

The cauldron will be lit at Maracana Stadium during the Opening Ceremony on Aug. 5, and will spend the night there before traveling to a permanent home.

Mario Andrada, spokesman for the Rio organizing committee, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the cauldron will be placed in the port area, but not in the heart of the renovated port area known as Plaza Maua.

“It will be close to Plaza Maua, but not exactly in Plaza Maua,” Andrada said. He said it was likely to be located near the Candelaria Church, which is near the plaza.

“Don’t get me into a fight with the mayor,” Andrada added.

Paes said he hoped the new plaza would be a center for outdoor entertainment during the Games, including performance stages, musical attractions, and large-screen televisions.

“It seems that the Maracana Stadium has limitations,” Paes said, adding that moving out of the Maracana “is good because it democratizes the access to the cauldron.”

The new plaza and downtown Rio are far from the heart of the Games in suburban Barra da Tijuca. It is also an area not usually visited by tourists.

The Olympic flame arrives from Greece and Switzerland on Tuesday in the capital Brasilia, to be carried off the plane by IOC member Carlos Nuzman, the head of the Rio organizing committee.

The flame then goes to the Planalto presidential palace where it is expected to be greeted by President Dilma Rousseff.

Andrada said IOC President Thomas Bach and other top IOC officials would not be at the ceremony.

Rousseff is facing impeachment charges and could be suspended from office as early as May 11, turning over authority to Vice President Michel Temer.

Temer, himself, could also face impeachment proceedings and has a scandal-tainted career.

PHOTOS: Olympic flame visits Acropolis, 1896 Olympic Stadium