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Between going fast on slopes, U.S. Alpine skier Ross uses music to slow down

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Music can be a very good way of relieving stress. We all know this because we tend to feel good when we’re warbling the lyrics to a song that we like while we’re taking a shower or driving down a highway.

So it’s no surprise that at least one U.S. Olympian – alpine skier Laurenne Ross – takes to playing music in order to disconnect from the grind that comes with being an Olympic athlete. According to her official U.S. Ski Team bio, the Canadian-born and Oregon-raised Ross plays the violin, guitar and piano in addition to singing.

“In skiing, I feel like I have a lot of pressure on me,” she says in a video for NBCOlympics.com. “When I play my music – I kind of feel like that’s a good way to let go of all that pressure.

“I find a bit of meditation in both things, but they are very different…They are both passions, they’re very different, but they are both things that I’m really connected to.”

Ross, the 2013 U.S. Nationals champion in the super-G, is one of four first-time Olympians on this year’s U.S. women’s Alpine skiing team along with Mikaela Shiffrin, Julia Ford and Jacqueline Wiles.

The Games run in her family, as her grandfather, Allan Purvis, helped the Canadian men’s hockey team win the gold medal at Oslo in 1952.

For Sochi, she’s qualified in three Alpine disciplines – the super combined (Feb. 10), downhill (Feb. 12), and super-G (Feb. 15). To learn about how Ross got started in skiing, NBCOlympics.com’s Joe Battaglia has more.

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No Zika cases from Olympics, WHO says

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 12:  An aerial view of the Christ The Redeemer statue (F) and the Maracana Stadium (B) on November 12, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
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There have been zero Zika virus cases stemming from the Rio Olympics, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

“From the reports WHO received from national health authorities, there have so far been no laboratory confirmed cases of Zika virus in anyone associated with the Olympics,” the organization said in an online update Thursday.

Earlier this summer, several athletes cited Zika concerns in skipping the Olympics.

The World Health Organization said before the Rio Games that the Olympics posed “a very low risk” of accelerating the Zika virus spread around the world.

Thousands of athletes will come to Rio for the Paralympics that run from Sept. 7-18, which is still during Brazil’s winter, lessening the Zika risk.

MORE: Hope Solo banned 6 months after Olympic comments

Devon Allen weighs turning pro in track and field

Devon Allen
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University of Oregon hurdler and wide receiver Devon Allen said he “thinks” he’s turning pro in track, but also said he hasn’t really decided if his NCAA track career is finished Thursday.

“There’s not really much more I can do in college track other than break the collegiate record,” Allen said.

Allen, a University of Oregon junior, finished fifth in the Rio Olympic 110m hurdles on Aug. 16 after winning the Olympic Trials on July 9.

Allen can turn pro in track and field and still play football for the Ducks, so long as he keeps his track and field profits to prize money and not endorsement deals.

He’s definitely planning on playing for Oregon’s football team this season, perhaps even in the season opener Sept. 3.

As for track season next winter and spring, that’s looking unlikely. Allen noted that he has won NCAA individual and team titles.

The only missing piece is the NCAA record of 13.00 set by former world-record holder Renaldo Nehemiah. Allen’s personal best is 13.03.

It’s clear that Allen would like to be a professional in both track and football.

“The NFL is something I’ve been dreaming about doing, just like I dreamed about running in the Olympics,” said Allen, who caught nine passes for 94 yards last season, coming back from tearing knee ligaments in the Rose Bowl. “I kind of accomplished that Olympic dream, obviously, in four years, I want to win a gold medal, so that’s one more step to that dream. Now my next dream is to play in the NFL.”

VIDEO: Top track and field moments from Rio Olympics