Germany Bobsled World Cup

Olympic women’s bobsled champs ready for title defense in Sochi

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There have been three Olympic women’s bobsled competitions since its debut in 2002 at Salt Lake City, and there have been three different champions. If Canada’s Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse have their way, they’ll be the first team to defend a title.

Humphries (driver) and Moyse (brakeman) led a 1-2 finish for Canada on home soil four years ago at Vancouver. Now, in Sochi, they’ve got the target on their back, a sort of pressure that can be every bit as daunting as performing well in front of your countrymen.

But Humphries feels that four years after her Olympic triumph, she’s come into her own as a pilot – and that could mean trouble for her competition, which includes Team USA counterpart and fellow gold medal contender Elana Meyers.

“It’s one thing to reach the top and get there,” Humphries said to reporters today in Russia. “And Heather and I had developed a kind of process in order to do that. But to stay there, we really had to come together stronger than ever. She’s grown individually, I’ve grown individually and its comfortable coming back together with the base that we have.”

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As for Moyse, who also doubles as a member of Canada’s national women’s rugby squad, she’s made her way back from hip surgery in late 2012 and subsequent rehabilitation. The process, according to her, made her realize that she gains motivation when facing adversity.

“…So knowing I had these goals to come back to rugby and [bobsled] in an Olympic season, they were huge,” she said. “It was really motivating for me and has just carried me through all the rehab.”

Now, both of them – physically and mentally stronger than ever – will be out to achieve an Olympic first.

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.

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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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