Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin interviewed by Santa Claus (video)

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Mikaela Shiffrin not only won a reindeer in Levi, Finland, on Saturday, but also a backseat interview with Santa Claus.

Santa asked the 18-year-old from Vail, Colo., if she had been to Levi before (yes, last year) and what she thought of the Finland ski resort north of the Arctic Circle.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s the North Pole, basically. I mean, I got a reindeer today, and now I’m having an interview with Santa.”

Santa then asked Shiffrin what she thought about Christmas.

“I love Christmas,” she said. “It’s my favorite holiday. … It’s snowy and there’s lights everywhere. Yummy cookies.”

As for the Reindeer, which Shiffrin named Rudolph?

“I’m going to follow its growth,” Shiffrin said. “It’s staying here in Levi. Hopefully when I come back next year, I’ll be able to visit, maybe ride it. I want to look it face to face again.”

Santa closed by asking her what she wanted for Christmas. (Well, what she “hoped for”) Shiffrin’s answer was unlike what most teenagers would say.

“In some ways, you make your own gift,” she said. “I’m going to try and make my own gift this season and see how far it can take my skiing.”

Shiffrin’s taken it pretty far already. She’s the reigning world champion and World Cup champion in the slalom and posted a career-best sixth place in the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 26.

The World Cup tour goes to Beaver Creek, Colo., for three races Thanksgiving weekend — a downhill, super-G and giant slalom. If Shiffrin keeps with her Olympic season plans, she will race the giant slalom.

Oh yeah, Santa gave her a gift anyway, a winter hat.

(h/t @usskiteam)

Video: Hirscher win’s men’s slalom; Ligety fast on second run

U.S. senators speak up as women’s hockey worlds near with no resolution

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Sixteen U.S. senators wrote a letter to USA Hockey’s executive director Monday over their concerns about the treatment of the women’s national team.

Players have threatened to boycott the upcoming world championships over a wage dispute. The senators, all Democrats, urged David Ogrean to resolve the matter and ensure the team receives “equitable resources.” They cited the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act.

USA Hockey’s board of directors meets Monday, and players said Sunday night they hope there’s a deal.

The senators, all Democrats, joined a chorus of support that includes unions representing players from the NHL, NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball. Those organizations said over the weekend they stood with the women’s team and criticized USA Hockey for attempting to find replacement players.

Prominent NHL agent Allan Walsh tweeted Sunday, “Word circulating among NHL players that American players will refuse to play in men’s World Championships in solidarity with the women.”

Zach Bogosian, an American-born Buffalo Sabres defenseman, went to high school with U.S. captain Meghan Duggan. He tweeted his support and said he hopes the dispute is resolved.

The U.S. is the defending champion at the International Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship, which begins Friday in Plymouth, Michigan.

In negotiations over the past 15 months, players have asked for a four-year contract that pays them outside the six-month Olympic period. The senators’ letter notes the $6,000 that players earn around the Olympics and USA Hockey’s $3.5 million annual spending on the men’s national team development program and other discrepancies.

“These elite athletes indeed deserve fairness and respect, and we hope you will be a leader on this issue as women continue to push for equality in athletics,” the senators wrote.

In a statement Sunday night, players said they hoped USA Hockey would approve terms discussed during a meeting last week. They said the agreement has the “potential to be a game changer for everyone.”

The letter was signed by: Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Patty Murray of Washington, Dianne Feinstein of California, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Thomas Carper of Delaware, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Robert Menendez and Cory Booker of New Jersey, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

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Ugandan Olympian’s body shuts down at World Cross-Country Champs (video)

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Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei went from leading the race to finishing 30th in the final kilometer at the World Cross-Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda, on Sunday.

Cheptegei, a 20-year-old Olympian, saw his body shut down in the last four minutes of his race.

His stride shortened. His pace slowed. Cheptegei appeared on the verge of falling. At one point, a teammate deliberately pushed him from behind to keep going.

Cheptegei led by 12 seconds going into the final two-kilometer lap. He would finish 1 minute, 44 seconds behind Kenyan winner Geoffrey Kamworor, with 28 other runners separating them after the 10km race that took about a half-hour.

Cheptegei’s body movement looked similar to that of British triathlete Jonny Brownlee, who had to be helped to the finish line by brother Alistair Brownlee at the World Triathlon Series Grand Final in Cozumel, Mexico, in September.

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