Emily Scott

Emily Scott overcomes humble beginnings to realize Olympic dream

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Emily Scott will be one of more than 200 athletes competing for the U.S. in Sochi and one of eight short track speed skaters.

But the story of how she got there is as unique as any on the Olympic Team.

Scott, 24, qualified for her first Olympics at the U.S. Short Track Trials on Jan. 4.

That came about six months after she filed for food stamps and about 15 years after her mother, Carol, went to jail for the first time.

NBC Sports’ Joe Posnanski details Scott’s journey in this profile.

“A girl that age doesn’t understand everything. But Emily understood enough. Her mother was a methamphetamine addict and trafficker. She was unstable, out of control, unable to deal with life. Emily’s time with her had been bewildering and sometimes frightening and always unsteady. “Everyone chooses a path,” Emily says gently. “Unfortunately that was her path.”

In light of the recent Jamaican Bobsled Team headlines, it’s important to remember many Olympians face financial struggles.

A year ago, Emily Scott lost almost all of her funding. There were numerous problems at U.S. Speedkating — speedskater Simon Cho admitted to tampering with a competitor’s skate, speedkating coach Jae Su Chun was forced to resign after alleged physical and verbal abuse, financially the group was a shambles — and Scott’s funding was cut from almost $2,000 a month to $600. Her apartment in Salt Lake City costs $500 a month. Even with her job at a surgical supply factory, she could not make ends meet.

“Scared?” she asks. “Yes. Of course I was scared. I was in panic mode. I felt like everything I had worked so hard for so many years was crashing down.”

Mexican skier to go for ‘Mariachi Olympic Prince’ look in Sochi

Mikaela Shiffrin wins Aspen World Cup slalom

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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
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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.”

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