Olympics champ left off Cuban world championship team

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Beijing 110m hurdles champ Dayron Robles of Cuba has been left off his country’s world championship team Friday due to unresolved issues with the Cuban Athletics Federation, according to the Trabajadores newspaper.

“Cuba has not authorized Dayron to compete due to problems with discipline and his sporting ethics,” CAF President Alberto Juantorena said.

To explain: Robles left the Cuban squad back in January, and now won’t be able to run in Moscow because he’s not affiliated with a team. He can actually change nationalities if he wants, so long as he’s willing to wait the two years before he can compete in major events again. But the CAF doesn’t really like that idea, either:

“We will maintain the initial position to the IAAF Council,” Juantorena concluded, “because we are against theft [of] athletes [from] underdeveloped countries by the great powers.”

Robles ran 12.87 seconds to break the world record in Ostrava a month ahead of the 2008 Games, but the gold medalist has had a difficult career since Beijing: He was disqualified after winning worlds in 2011 because he impeded rival Liu Xiang of China, failed to make the event finals in London last summer, and lost his world record to Aries Merrit in September. And the hits just keep on coming.

No NHL players means more mistakes and goals at Olympics

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GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — Hockey is a game of mistakes and it’s on display in fine form at the Olympics.

It doesn’t look beautiful, of course, with players all outside the NHL turning the puck over for point-blank scoring chances or leaving opponents wide open in front. The talent level is lower, so the risk factors and the entertainment level are up. Goaltenders have to be on their toes for unexpected, game-saving stops even more than usual.

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“It’s a short tournament: A few mistakes can decide your fate,” Finland goaltender Karri Ramo said Saturday. “You try to create more than carry it out of the zone, so obviously teams are trying to keep the puck and create scoring chances, so those mistakes happen. You’re not going to win if you play safe.”

There’s not a whole lot of safe, low-risk play so far, and scoring has increased as a result. After each team played twice, games were averaging 5.1 goals, up from 4.7 in Sochi with NHL players on the rosters.

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Ligety exits quietly, Hirscher brilliant again

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Marcel Hirscher, the Austrian ski god, is finally having his moment. King of the World Cup tour for the past seven seasons, on Sunday Hirscher won his second Olympic gold, in the giant slalom.

Hirscher had won a grand total of no Olympic medals, nada, zip, zero in two prior Games. Now he might — could, should — win three here at PyeongChang. The slalom, another Hirscher specialty, is due to be run Thursday.

To watch Hirscher ski is to watch one of the great athletes of our — or any — time. Like being courtside in Chicago to see Michael Jordan back in the day. At Wimbledon for a Roger Federer volley. At the Water Cube in Beijing in 2008 when Michael Phelps was swimming the butterfly.

In Sunday’s race, Kristoffersen finished second, 1.27 seconds back of Hirscher. Pinturault finished third, 1.31 behind.

American racer Ted Ligety used to own this event: the Sochi 2014 giant slalom gold medalist, he was world champion in 2011, 2013 and 2015. Pinturault took Sochi 2014 bronze.

Considering his relatively low slalom ranking and the pounding that slalom demands, Sunday’s GS was — just like that, that quickly, that quietly — likely the final race of Ligety’s outstanding Olympic career.

“This is probably it for me at these Games,” he said after run two, adding that he is planning to head back to Europe, to race the remainder of the World Cup season.

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