Bode Miller

Healthier Bode Miller expects to be ready for start of World Cup season, could make history in Sochi

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Alpine skiing fans are likely to see a different Bode Miller this season.

Miller, 35, now weighs about 200 pounds, some 20 pounds lighter than in recent years, his troublesome left knee feels great and he won’t be so go-for-broke in his skiing, according to The Associated Press.

”I have a lot less strain on my knee,” he told the AP. ”It allows me to ski a different tactic, a different style. I’m really psyched to give it a try, to reset some things and win some races.”

Miller had microfracture surgery on his left knee in spring 2012 and missed all of last season. He is training in New Zealand and told the AP he expects to be ready for this season’s World Cup opener in Soelden, Austria, in October, though.

It’s all part of preparation for the Sochi Olympics in February, which would be Miller’s fifth Olympics. He’s the most decorated active U.S. Winter Olympian with five medals. He won silver in the giant slalom and combined in 2002 and, in 2010, won gold (super combined), silver (super-G) and bronze (downhill).

Miller could make a lot of history in Sochi. He can become the first U.S. Alpine skier to make five Olympic teams (A.J. Kitt made four). He would also be the oldest U.S. Olympic Alpine skier ever (currently held by Erik Schlopy, who was 34 in 2006 and rejoined the U.S. Ski Team as an assistant coach Friday).

If he wins an event, he’ll become the oldest Olympic champion in Alpine skiing, a record currently held by the most decorated Alpine skier in Olympic history, Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt.

Aamodt won eight medals between 1992 and 2006. So, if Miller repeats his three-medal performance from Vancouver, he would tie Aamodt’s all-time record. It would also match Miller with Apolo Anton Ohno as the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian across all sports. That’s unlikely, but it’s certainly possible.

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Mikaela Shiffrin plans to return next week

Mikaela Shiffrin
AP
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Mikaela Shiffrin plans to race the next World Cup slalom in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, next Monday, according to her social media.

Shiffrin, 20 and the reigning Olympic, World and World Cup slalom champion, has been out since suffering a right MCL tear and a bone fracture in a Dec. 12 warm-up crash.

Her timetable for a return this season has shifted in the last eight weeks.

The rescheduling of a canceled Jan. 31 slalom for next Monday changed her previous plans to return the final weekend of February.

“Our goal is to have her be really close to 100 percent, if not 100 percent [before competing],” said Shiffrin’s mother, Eileen, in an earlier Denver Post report. “We’ve heard all these horror stories about athletes who went back too soon and then sustained injuries that did end their careers.”

The World Cup season concludes March 20. There are four slaloms left on the calendar, and Shiffrin trails slalom standings leader Frida Hansdotter by 305 points.

A winner receives 100 points per victory, so Shiffrin could take her fourth straight World Cup season title, but it would all but require her to win all four remaining slaloms and for Hansdotter (and others) to struggle.

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Tony Parker plans to play in Olympic qualifying, Rio Games

Tony Parker
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Tony Parker said he plans to play in both Olympic qualifying in July and the Rio Games in August, according to L’Equipe.

Parker, 33, previously said he could miss the tournaments this summer, at least in part due to his wife’s pregnancy, according to French media.

Parker said his wife is due in late July, which would fall in between France’s Olympic qualifying tournament (July 4-10 in the Philippines) and the Rio Games (Aug. 6-21).

Parker led France at the 2012 Olympics with 15.7 points per game. The French lost two games in London, to the gold medalist U.S. in group play and silver medalist Spain in the quarterfinals.

Parker led all players with 19 points per game at 2013 EuroBasket, won by France.

In September, Parker and France fell in the EuroBasket semifinals to Spain in a winner-goes-to-Rio game.

The defeat forced France to a last-chance, winner-take-all, six-team Olympic qualifying tournament in the Philippines in July.

In the Philippines, France will face a field that includes Canada, which had nine NBA players on its roster (including Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins) at August’s FIBA Americas yet was stunned in a winner-goes-to-Rio game by Venezuela, which had zero NBA players.

France is likely to be without Chicago Bulls All-Star Joakim Noah this summer as he underwent season-ending left shoulder surgery in January and hasn’t played a major tournament for the national team since 2011 EuroBasket.

Other French NBA players include Charlotte Hornets swingman Nicolas Batum, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, San Antonio Spurs forward Boris Diaw and Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier.

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