Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin more than ready for Olympic debut

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An athlete’s first Olympics should be a nerve-racking event. Compete against the best in front of a world-wide audience? How does one prepare for that?

If you’re U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, you’ve been prepping for years.

The 18-year-old will race for the first time in Sochi on Tuesday as one of the favorites in the women’s giant slalom (Watch it here starting at 2 am ET). She’s no novice — she’s the second-youngest American to win a World Cup alpine event and won the 2013 season title in slalom — and says she’s already prepped herself to think that way.

“I am really psyched to race, and I’ve been here before, in my head, for sure,” Shiffrin said, via the AP. “So to everybody, it’s my first Olympics, but to me it’s my thousandth.”

That entails picturing scenarios along the way (how will she feel at the starting gate? And on the podium? Or a crash?) so she can be prepared for whatever the course throws her way. Perhaps it’ll work. Some of her peers seem to think it will.

“She will handle the pressure really good,” Sweden’s Maria Pietilae-Holmner (second in the World Cup giant slalom standings), told the AP. “She’s still young, she’s not thinking too much, and I think she will for sure take one medal, at least.”

WADA investigates report that 10,000 Chinese athletes doped

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BERLIN (AP) — The World Anti-Doping Agency is looking into allegations made by a German broadcaster that Chinese athletes benefited from systematic doping in the 1980s and 90s.

“The allegations were brought forward by former Chinese physician, Xue Yinxian, who is said to have looked after several national teams in China during the decades in question,” WADA said Monday.

Xue, who recently arrived in Germany and is seeking political asylum with her son, told broadcaster ARD that more than 10,000 athletes were affected, some as young as 11, and that anyone who was against doping was considered “a danger to the country. And anyone who endangered the country is now in prison.”

The 79-year-old Xue said she lost her job with the national gymnastics team after refusing to treat an athlete with doping substances before the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

She said she had not felt safe in her home city of Beijing since 2012, when she first made her allegations of doping. She first started working with China’s national teams in the 1970s.

“In the 1980s and ’90s, Chinese athletes on the national teams made extensive use of doping substances,” she told ARD. “Medals were showered in doping. Gold, silver and bronze. All international medals should be withdrawn.”

WADA said it will examine “whether such a system may have prevailed beyond these decades.”

The first step, WADA said, was for its “independent intelligence and investigations team to initiate an investigative process in order to collect and analyze available information in coordination with external partners.”

Xue, who continued to work at lower levels after being dismissed from the national team in 1988, said she was only approached afterward when athletes developed problems because of the substances they were given.

“One trainer came to me and said, ‘Doctor Xue, the boys’ breasts keep getting bigger,’” Xue said. “These boys were about 13 to 14 years old.”

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PyeongChang Olympic organizers downplay North Korea concern

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ANCIENT OLYMPIA, Greece (AP) — PyeongChang Olympic organizers played down concern over ongoing tensions with North Korea and also say work has been completed on all venues for the Winter Games.

Lee Hee-beom, president of the PyeongChang organizing committee, said the International Olympic Committee has made it very clear that the Feb. 9-25 Winter Games will go ahead as scheduled.

Speaking at the birthplace of the ancient Olympics shortly after the last rehearsal for Tuesday’s official flame-lighting ceremony, Lee said “there is no Plan B.”

Lee said South Korean officials are working closely with all relevant parties to ensure the Winter Games are safe and secure.

He said his main concern for the Olympics is the weather.

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