John Orozco

American Cup gymnastics preview; TV schedule

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The summer Olympic sports season begins in earnest in March, starting Saturday with the biggest annual international gymnastics competition held in the U.S.

The American Cup in Greensboro, N.C., includes 2012 Olympians John Orozco and Sam Mikulak and Elizabeth Price and Brenna Dowell, who are in the (very) early running for 2016 Olympic spots.

The American Cup runs from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. ET on Saturday. The first 90 minutes will be streamed here. NBC will carry live coverage from 1-3 p.m.

How important is the American Cup? Take a look at past results.

In 2013, Katelyn Ohashi and Simone Biles went one-two in their senior international debuts. Ohashi, a product of the same gym as Olympic champions Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin, would miss the 2013 U.S. Championships and World Championships after an injury.

Biles stayed healthy, though, and won the U.S. Championship and was the most decorated gymnast at the World Championships — winning two gold medals, one silver and one bronze.

Biles, who is 16 and nursing a shoulder injury, will miss this year’s event and will move to a new gym, leaving the site she’s trained at since age 6.

2012 Olympian Jacob Dalton won the men’s competition in 2013 and went on to take floor exercise silver at the World Championships.

A better perspective for Olympic prospects might be the 2010 American Cup, two years before the London Olympics.

Rebecca Bross and Aly Raisman went one-two on the women’s side. Bross, a two-time world all-around medalist, was set up for a run at the 2012 Olympic Team before injuries struck.

Raisman went to be a leader of the gold-medal-winning 2012 Olympic Team and added two individual medals in London.

The men’s competition in 2010 went to Russian Maksim Devyatovskiy, who did not make the 2012 Olympic Team.

The 2014 U.S. Championships are Aug. 21-24 in Pittsburgh. The 2014 World Championships are in October in Nanning, China.

Here are the full American Cup fields:

Sam Mikulak (USA)
John Orozco (USA)
Fabian Gonzalez (ESP)
Fabien Hambuechen (GER)
Andrey Likhovitskiy (BLR)
Shogo Nonomura (JPN)
Sam Oldham (GBR)
Daniel Purvis (GBR)
Sergio Sasaki Junior (BRA)

Brenna Dowell (USA)
Elizabeth Price (USA)
Carlotta Ferlito (ITA)
Vanessa Ferrari (ITA)
Victoria Moors (CAN)
Roxana Popa Nedelcu (ESP)
Sophie Scheder (GER)
Giulia Steingruber (SUI)

Winter Olympic champions make Wheaties boxes

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.

“I don’t know if the stars will ever align like that again,” Shiffrin said in a media conference after being told she won with the biggest margin of victory in the history of women’s slalom since 1968: 3.07 seconds. “I don’t think [my competitors] are going to let me get away with three seconds ever again.”

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.”

But, Shiffrin added that she already has her mind set on tomorrow, where she races slalom again, on NBC at 3 p.m. ET. The complete of the Olympic sports schedule is here.

“I just as quickly have to go back and settle in,” she said. “Tomorrow is a new race. I have to find a different motivation and try to take the same mentality and keep fighting.”

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.”

MORE: Hanyu, Miyahara win NHK; Wagner into Grand Prix Final