Marcel Hirscher

Marcel Hirscher compares pressure to crazy dogs who want to eat him

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What’s it like to be the best Alpine skier from the sport’s richest nation?

Ask the two-time reigning World Cup overall champion Marcel Hirscher, the top Austrian gold-medal hope going into the Sochi Olympics.

“If you’re standing in front of a big, big, huge wall, and you have no opportunity to climb up there, and then behind you, there are a hundred crazy dogs who want to eat you up, then you have to go for your life,” Hirscher, 24, told The Associated Press.

Austria has won 105 Olympic Alpine skiing medals, nearly twice as many as second-place Switzerland (56). The U.S. is fourth with 39.

But the land of Franz Klammer and Hermann Maier produced zero men’s Alpine medals at the 2010 Olympics.

The pressure is on Hirscher to deliver gold in Sochi. He’s the reigning world champion and World Cup champion in the slalom and a rival to Ted Ligety in the giant slalom.

No other Austrian man or woman led a World Cup discipline or won an individual world championships last season.

Hirscher will be looking to top the podium again Sunday, when the Alpine skiing World Cup visits Levi, Finland, for a slalom. Hirscher was third in the season-opening giant slalom (behind winner Ligety) in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 27.

He took second to Swede Andre Myhrer in Levi last season.

Ligety, too, is slated to start in Levi. The American has obviously been working on his slalom.

Levi winners will get unusual prizes

Canada names Olympic Opening Ceremony flag bearers

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Figure skaters Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are Canada’s flag bearers for the PyeongChang Olympic Opening Ceremony on Feb. 9.

It’s the first time Canada will have multiple flag bearers at an Opening Ceremony.

Virtue and Moir won ice dance gold at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games and silver in Sochi in 2014.

After a two-year break, they went undefeated last season and won their third world championship.

They lost for the first time in their comeback at last month’s Grand Prix Final to French Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.

Canada finished in the top three in the total medal standings at the last three Winter Olympics, including topping the gold-medal standings at the 2010 Vancouver Games with a record 14.

Recent Canadian Winter Olympic flag bearers
2014 Opening: Hayley Wickenheiser, Hockey
2014 Closing: Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse, Bobsled
2010 Opening: Clara Hughes, Speed Skating
2010 Closing: Joannie Rochette, Figure Skating
2006 Opening: Danielle Goyette, Hockey
2006 Closing: Cindy Klassen, Speed Skating
2002 Opening: Catriona Le May Doan, Speed Skating
2002 Closing: Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, Figure Skating

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MORE: Canada’s Olympic figure skating team roster

Dale Earnhardt Jr. to cover Super Bowl LII, Olympics for NBC

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. will cover Super Bowl LII and the PyeongChang Olympics as a contributor for NBC.

Earnhardt will spend the first weekend in February covering the outdoor activities in Minneapolis for the Super Bowl Pre-Game Show (NBC, Feb. 4).

Then he will travel to South Korea for the Winter Games.

From NBC Sports PR:

“Earnhardt will travel to PyeongChang, where he will explore the culture, people, and traditions in South Korea, and experience Olympic competitions first hand. Earnhardt will visit the speed skating venue at Gangneung Ice Arena, and through the lens of a racer will view the speed, close contact, and tight turns on the short track speed skating oval, which so closely mirror Earnhardt’s racing days and nights at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Following a recent invite on social media from his new friends on the U.S. bobsled team, including U.S. bobsled team pilot Nick Cunningham, Earnhardt will also travel to Alpensia Sliding Center, where he will test the true speed of the bobsled track and live out his post-retirement dream of riding in an Olympic bobsled.”

Earnhardt, 43, retired last year after 19 NASCAR seasons, which included Daytona 500 wins in 2004 and 2014.

He is now a NASCAR on NBC analyst.

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