USA Hockey Press Conference

U.S. hockey coach Dan Bylsma: I cried watching ‘Miracle’

Leave a comment

Yes, there is crying in Olympic hockey. New U.S. Olympic coach Dan Bylsma told reporters at his introductory press conference on Saturday that he cried watching the movie “Miracle” after he found out he would be leading the American team in Sochi.

“A few days ago, I was back in Michigan at the cottage, and my son (Bryan) and his cousin were watching ‘Miracle,’ and they did not know yet that I was going to be named the head coach of the team,” Bylsma told reporters in New York on Saturday. “The scene where (1980 U.S. Olympic coach) Herb (Brooks) is in the kitchen, and he’s having a conversation with his wife, I’m like, ‘That’s me. That’s my wife, Mary Beth.’ I watched half of that movie with just really freshly knowing that I was going to be the head coach of the team. That’s kind of a surreal little moment there.”

Pittsburgh Penguins coach Bylsma, 42, won the Stanley Cup in 2009 and the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s top coach in 2011. He led the Penguins to the Eastern Conference finals this season and hopes to bring USA Hockey its first men’s Olympic gold since that 1980 “Miracle on Ice” team. The U.S. won silver medals in two of the last three Olympics, falling to Canada in the gold-medal game both times.

The U.S. and Russia are guaranteed to face off in Sochi. They’re both in Group A, along with Slovakia and Slovenia, the only of the three groups that includes three quarterfinalists from the Vancouver Olympics.

ProHockeyTalk: Bylsma named U.S. Olympic coach

Mikaela Shiffrin wins Aspen World Cup slalom

Mikaela Shiffrin
Leave a comment

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
Leave a comment

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